I read something today that shook me. Deep. Way down deep, in a big WTF sort of way... it had to do with the local school wanting to arm security guards. And then I hopscotched to an article about the psychological effect of gun violence, drills, and paranoia on young children.
I don't think I have to describe the feeling inside. I think we all feel that horror; it's a mess. The uncertainty. The rage, the confusion, the sadness.
But, here's what I noticed, as I read through the inter-webs: my father's generation grew up this way, during the Cold War. They grew up (our Baby Booming parents) hiding under their desks, wondering whether bombs would fall from the sky. It was "war time." There was the big button. And then we were into the Cold War.
I had a chat with my Dad about his childhood. And it was so different... this was a war machine, not unpredictable civilians shooting each other and kids in schools and movie theaters. So much is different, but still, there were parallels. Duck and Cover, they called it. They hid under their desks when the sirens went off. They never knew when an air raid might materialize. This generation had its share of anxiety growing up, for sure.
I read here about the fear and anxiety over current politics and threats to our safety, and how they echo the fears of the Cold War era. We are re-living those fearful childhoods, through our baby boomers. It's palpable. The tension, the air thick with the memory of it, of hiding. Are we safe, are we safe?
And on the other hand, we have the current kids. The group my son will be joining in the fall. These kids are in the beginning stages of learning "active shooter drills." The Boomers had fall-out shelters, and now we are talking about "safe rooms." The threat is very different. But the fear is real, for both. I shudder to imagine my son growing up in such fear-based, dark world. And anxiety begins to tug at me, too. But then, I stop. I breathe. I ground myself. And I remember...
My generation is a special one. And I'm definitely talking about my own privileged youth: my friends, my school experience. Of course, not everyone had a positive experience, for personal reasons. But I'm talking about the vibe of the nation. The Reagan Years. We grew up in the age of bliss, in many ways
I watched the first choreographed music video, ever, on MTV (back when they just played music videos) along with many of my Gen X counterparts who were lucky enough to have cable. (You just heard Video Killed the Radio Star in your head just now, didn't you?) Oh - ah- oh...
I grew up with Dolly Pops and He-Man cartoons and Voltron and Smurfs. US in the 80s... in the middle class neighborhoods... there were TVs everywhere. Abundance. Too much, I think. We had it good. New Wave vibes and Boy George and John Hughes films. Lisa Lisa. Janet. Blondie. Bon Jovi. The Rubick's Cube. Watchu talkin' 'bout Willis? Different Strokes. Beepers and pagers. Madonna. Atari... Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger. The arcade. Neon shirts. Webster. Asymmetrical skirts. Princess Di. Skorts. Tina Turner. Scrunchies. Keds. Miami Vice. Knight Rider. Human League. Wham! Bowie. <3 The Go-Gos. Mr. T. FAME! Flashdance. Shoulder pads. PRINCE. Garbage Pail Kids. Whitney Houston. Mr. Wizard's World. Mall bangs. Mr. Rogers. Peak Michael Jackson. We Are the World. Hands Across America. Farm Aid. U2, The Police, Sting. Debbie Gibson. Selena. BRUUUUCE. Weird Al. COMING TO AMERICA. Roller rinks. New Kids and Tiffany... we crossed into the nineties and the Seattle grunge exploded! Kurt Cobain and the Nevermind album, oh my God! Chris Cornell. <3 We met John Mayer. Dial-up internet entered the home.
I could reminisce for hours. There was pretention, to be sure, but I remember the freedom, the bliss, the culture, the abstract art, the vibe... like it were yesterday. I think a lot of us do. TURBO AND OZONE! Sorry, that just slipped out. So, we sort of packed it up inside, and carried it along with us. Many of my counterparts still quote their favorite childhood shows and nostalgia. it was so much a part of us, and it was the beginning of an addiction to technology and instant satisfaction, as well.
For a lot of us, our parents worked outside the home. Latch-key kids. Oh, yes... who else had keys around their necks and walked home from school to empty houses? And usually, that was perfectly safe. Not a care. Our biggest threat was the potential weirdo in a van with candy. We had more TV time and we were a spoiled bunch... What we didn't grow up with...was a looming fear of danger and imminent death. We thought we'd live forever, we were invincible. Our battlefield was Love. <3
And for so many of us, it still is. We are Hippie 2.0, streamlined for greater efficiency. Hyper-Connected. Love x Love X Infinity. Nothing is impossible. Stubborn as all get-out. We will survive. Win. Achieve our dreams. Because better days are possible. We've seen them. Great things happen and dreams come true. And good guys win.
i mean, we wanted to solve our problems with dance-offs...
My point here... is that our kids have an amazing gift, to help them navigate through their childhoods.
They have us. The 80s kids. The Gen Xers. The hope-and-dreamers. The big Lovers. The idealists. We were in a magical sort of bubble, as far as violence went. Sure, skirmishes existed, but not in our backyards. Not at home, not in America. We didn't know about any of that, we were safe. We were eating Fun Dip and Razzles and learning about Aids and safe sex. We were saying no to drugs (well, some of us said yes. No, not me. I was a drama queen, but straight as an arrow.) We learned about global warming for the first time. We were learning joy and empathy, indulgence and moderation, not fear and paranoia.
Granted we still had socio-economic division and racial conflict and all the rest. We had the good ol' haves and have-nots. But we weren't living in a constant fear of destruction. As our parents did, and as our kids are. We're in that blessed middle. It's a sacred space, because we've known innocence. We know hope. We know Light and goodness and abundance and harmony. Believers.
We saw the end of the Cold War. We saw the Berlin Wall opened and then destroyed, joining the east and west. We saw resolution. Handshakes. We saw eruptions of joy, celebration, and community. Acceptance. Understanding between diverse groups. We've seen moments of peace and wonder. We've also seen riots and disruptions and worked to resolve them. And with so many social injustices, there is always more work to do. But we're doing it. Tables are turning, grounds are shaking, and ways are changing. Step by step. We've been taking down walls since the eighties.
Why are we unique? Because we are in the middle. And not in a holier-than-thou-super-special-snowflake way.... but, meaning that we are the balance. We can raise children with tools to dream and believe and hope, and to do the work. To imagine. To create. To manage anxiety and emotional eruptions. We can tell them that human beings can love each other, work together, trust each other, and succeed, together. We can instill them with beliefs that are empowering, because we've been there. We've seen bright times, and we know, they'll come again. We can infuse them with Love, in a time of fear. With our feet on steady ground, filled up with hope and that glimmer of Light and peace-time goodness... we can hold space for our parents and keep them grounded. We can comfort our children and guide them through. And we can continue to dream, hope, and imagine a better and safer world. We've seen glimpses of it. We're the ones. We're those people. We're that generation that guides the ship. That lifts and inspires and motivates and makes.
Change happens. Reform happens. Tragedies happen, but we rise from the ashes and demand change. We rip down walls that separate us, we celebrate each other, we Love.
We Love. And we'll keep on...
Hi. That's me. Baby me. Toddler me. Right about the age my son is now. The seventies, man. My brother had given me a haircut, *just before* school pictures. Mom was pleased. :sarcasm font: I think it worked for me.
1970s... Avocado greens and chocolatey browns and burnt oranges and that putrid vomit-colored maize-yellow. Bell-bottoms. My Mom's disco albums. Yeah, vinyl. I learned to dance the Hot Chocolate from one of them. I learned about (and fell in love with) Donna Summer from another.
I saw my grandparents a lot. I had one grandmother who delivered Avon, knew everyone in town (and they still mention her, to this day) and she lived in house dresses (look it up, they're like mu mus..) I had another grandmother who was a NOW (National Organization for Women) cardholder, worked in the city, commuted in sneakers and changed to pumps at the office, knew all the subways, and took us to see Broadway shows once a year. One was Grandma...one was Mimi. Can you guess who was who?
I loved them both, dearly. But I associated with Mimi the most. Honest. Eye-rolling. Sharp-tongued. A riotous and often inappropriate sense of humor, behind closed doors. She was the one who'd laugh so hard that tears would stream down. I get my fire, my sass, my passion, the marinara in my veins, my joie de vivre...from that side. The Italian side.
My other Grandmother, on my father's side (British/Dutch/Canadian)... had lessons to teach, just in her presence. In her stories. I wouldn't appreciate them until much later. They lived hard through the depression, my father's parents, and they both worked at Grumman. They had four boys, and they both worked, and rarely saw each other. They were scrappy, they had to be. They were thrifty, because they learned to be. My grandmother, boy, she could... make a dollar holler. She hit up garage sales, tag sales, thrift stores, and always gave to others the little that she could. We often got new school clothes from the rag bag (donated clothes that we got from the church in Glen Cove, cheap). So she'd often give us things to help out, even though they weren't Rockefellers, either. She wasn't a barrel of laughs or charm or high-fashion. She was a tough old broad. She got hit by a Mack truck crossing the street and broke a hip, in her... sixties? She was up an delivering Avon again, pretty soon after. That's how she was. Tough as nails. Vocal. Opinionated. In your face if you didn't submit. I get my grit and low-bullshit-meter from her.
My childhood was informed by some powerful women, although I didn't see it at the time. I won't tell you about MY mother, because, well, she's alive and well and reads this and it's just none of your business.
But my grandmothers: one was fighting the patriarchy, working, earning her worth as best as she could, trying to lift that glass ceiling up... just a bit. Caring for herself, putting herself first. She came from an Italian family that let the boys go to college and the girls... learned to cook and keep a husband happy. From the get-go, she said... "this stinks." She just knew how wrong it was, how it didn't align with who she was. My mother's side is where I get a lot of my... resistance to conform into a role. Like Becky Sharp, Scarlet O'Hara, Jo March, and so many other controversial figures of women in literature. I will hardly just go and be a wife... Because this fire burns inside... for more. For passion, for exploration, for challenge, for vibrance, for intellect, and color and travel and excitement. For a LIFE, not a sentence.
And I think, through most of her life, (I have a recording of an oral history I did with her, that I cherish), she silently stewed and let a fire grow inside, that would emerge later. And it did.
They're both gone, now, all of my grandparents are, and I feel it's okay to discuss them here.
So entwined with my current writing, Wild Horses and Mistakes, I set out on an intentional journey... call it shamanic, call it psychology, call it catharsis, call it healing the inner child, call it whatever you want... it's all the same to me, with different labels. We are but a story, and we can revisit our stories and pull meaning out, to inform the present. It's all a big spiral dance, around and around and around.
We go through childhood and collect all these stories, these ideas, that other people make up about us, and if we already feel small... we believe them. And it takes years and years of crawling out of those stories, and becoming our own people.
I can see it now, the whole pattern, as it's taught to us (of course, not everyone follows this):
birth: we're given a name, an identity, and put into the "system"
school years: our teachers teach us to memorize things, and often scold us for our originality or finding our own answers. We're often dumbed down for being resourceful or creative. It must be done their way, or we get "bad marks." So, we must get good marks, and so we conform. And often, if we're lucky, we find those one or two special teachers or counselors, that connect... and keep us going.
college: optional, but many take this route. To... fit the right mold to get the right job, to "be what they want," so they get hired to work for someone else's dream.
then...marriage, kids, two cars, vacations: and so we get out of school, we find careers, we find a partner to play this game alongside us. And for a while it's good, life is good. We played a good game, we got there! We did it! We ticked off everything on the card, look!
And then... those lost embers of glowing imagination, of magic, of dreams, of non-conformity start to bubble up through the cracks and demand change. This isn't what I thought. I did everything right, how come I'm not happy? I have a good life? Enter the mid-life crisis. Sometimes, if they're lucky and already have a healthy relationship, couples ride through it together and they both change. Often, they split because one will not change for whatever reason. Or worse, they stay together, yet grow apart, living a show within a show, for the kids, for the neighbors, and everyone is miserable.
Or... maybe you're still single, and none of that affects you at all, and you just feel like you're in a hamster wheel. Waiting for real life to start. For that ship to come in. For something to finally make sense and give you the unmistakable direction that you've been seeking. We've a got a wacky sort of society that breaks us apart and we scramble to put ourselves together again, later in life. And some of us don't make it that far, we become that system and lose our identities, altogether. (But not really, I truly believe that there is always a spark that stays lit.)
I'm not sure what I'm rambling about today, it feels a bit messy. And maybe that's the point, but it has to do with childhood, dreams, and how our fears and self-esteem are managed. I look at this little bright-faced girl and I wonder how she did it. How did she make it to now? And she can't tell me, because she had no idea. She was a child. Innocent. She just woke up and showed up. it was later that she started hiding and living in made-up worlds that made much more sense.
I've been doing this work, this self-study, this inner-journey for a few years now. And at the outset, it was about the present and the immediate stresses of life. And then it was about adulthood, in general, and then adolescence. And so on. It's like time-traveling, revisiting my life, all the way back to here... to early childhood. I think deep within each of us are these innocent children who want to play, dream, fly, sing, dance, and maybe see outer space. And it doesn't always work out that way, because we start believing in the limitations that others give us, throughout our growing up.
And this... is the mess. The bags, the burdens, the stifled dreams in our backpack, that we walk through life with. Unrealized dreams. Attention not given. Perceptions of love withheld. Mistakes, abuses, pain, trauma, fear. Carried forward, in our bones, in our minds, in our memories. Our...mess.
I first got into this intentional self-development, living with my eyes and heart wide open, fully aware, life-out-loud, hoping to heal. To get there. To that place, where I healed it all. And life would be a walk in the sunshine where nothing caused me trouble anymore, because I did all my work. Yay, I'm fixed, let's go heal the world! :throws glitter in the air:
:insert ironic laugh here:
No, unfortunately. And for me, freedom, epiphany, boundless creativity, inner change and transformation comes not in my ultimate and grand healing... but in deep acceptance that I will always have this pack on my back; my mess. My stuff. That stuff can change, things go in, things come back out. New experiences and joy go in, fear and pain go out. But then with adventure comes risk, and more sometimes more pain, so in that goes. And this, I think, is Life. That pack will always be there, it's my story, it's who I am and where I've been. And stories change... I'm constantly emptying and refilling the pack. But I'm owning it. Seeing it, knowing it, being with it. And traveling along anyway, open and trusting, knowing that pack will always be there. And that's okay. Because we've all got one. And I start thinking more about... searching through each other's backpacks rather than... feigning perfection. Because it's a lie. One I won't buy anymore.
And that little girl? That young, sweet, innocent little Stacie? She's still in there and when she's scared or nervous or overly exuberant or excitable, I just carry her too, with everything else. I pick her up, hold her close, and carry her with me (symbolically, of course). Because I can keep her safe and I can do my best to bring her what she wants. I think that's what all of our anxieties are about, really. That little young boy or young girl that has fears and anxieties and doubts and worries... but also, also... big dreams and hope and resilience and magic and wildness and that wonderful, playful, beautiful optimism.
Hello, heart. I see you. I'm listening.
Trouble sleeping... midnight-write.
So. Here it is... My son. My love-bug.
It's been a while since I've shared some precious, divine insight from this little dude.
Every once in a while, he just comes out with something, that's so out there. Way out in left field, and at 3.5 years old, I just don't know where he gets it. But I do believe there is a thin veil that separates us from other realities, what some call the spirit world. Different planes, if you will. Dimensions, sure. Whichever. And I believe that children are closer to this magic.
So, this morning, he started talking about babies. Out of the blue. And he told me this:
"Before you were a real baby, you were a pretend baby. You weren't really here yet."
"A pretend baby?" I asked.
"Yes. You were still pretend, you were in the circle, still." My arm hair stands up.
"Uh huh. Actually it's more like a swirly hook, Mom. But before you're a real baby, you're in that big circle, see? Then... you become real again."
"Wow, buddy. I love hearing you talk, do you know that? What a beautiful way you have to see things..." He smiled, laughed, and ran off to zoom his cars around before school, after that. And just as quickly as it started, the conversation was over.
But, wow. Now, the analytical mind can take this apart and turn it into a lot of nothing. As such minds do. But I find it intriguing.
I'm just gonna riff for a minute, bear with me. It's one of those days where things happen like dominoes and say the same thing, over and over, from many sources. And it just itches inside, like you have to mention it, too. Just because. You know? Anyway. It brought all this stuff back up, from when I first started to really delve into energy work, healing, intention, manifesting, etc...
Let's just chat, here:
So, circles. I've always had this vision of the collective consciousness, right? Since I was a teenager. More on that in my next book... but for me, it's like... a galaxy. A... universe, maybe. A giant, swirling spiral of energy imprints. Memories of being, of art, of inspiration, of hope, of fear. Echoes of intangible essence of the endless multitudes, swirling in the cosmic goo, in some plane that we can't access directly, while in these bodies. Yet, when we meditate, when we create art, when we reach those peak and blessed flow states, when the analytical mind shuts off and we lose ourselves in creation... I think we tap into this spiral. This... circle. We channel, we direct energy into art, we understand deeper and deeper truths, we communicate with memories of loved ones. We step into the in-between: a foot in each world. In the middle. Perhaps, that's why they call it... medium. A conduit for energy, in the middle of two worlds.
So, cool. A recap of my view of spirituality and energy.
But to hear my son talk about pre-birth, and being part of the circle? It blew my mind. Back when he first started talking, I asked him for kicks: "what's the meaning of Life?" To which he answered, "circle."
Or...he is just closer to magic, and us? As we age, we grow cynical and creep further away from it.
Who knows. But I thought you'd enjoy the story. The whole thing filled me with some sort of connection and hope and Love. So, I thought I'd share... as I do. I think I'll doze off, now.
xoxo Goodnight, dreamers xoxo
I didn't want to write this story.
I've been carrying it around since Thursday night, but when I do that, when I don't write through these things, the world gets uglier, darker, and more twisted...fast. No, I'm not that powerful, I'm talking about perspective. Which is at the root of everything.
I was out to the movies with my brother (the new Ryan Reynolds/Sam Jackson. So good! Yeah, that's a truth. I love my blockbuster-blow-shit-up-eye-candy. Deal.)
So, yeah, we're super weird. My family is still close, we hang and stuff. We like each other. <----- effing psychos.
Anyway. On-line for some contraband: popcorn and I'm NOT TELLING YOU what else. Nunya business. So, there's a man with his little boy, around my son's age, ahead of us. This adorable boy looks over to his Mama and Aunties, who are walking toward the theater. He wants to go with them.
"Mama," he yells over to her, teary-eyed. She smiles and says nothing. He cries a little bit. Big tough Daddy-man looks down at his toddler with a stern face and points at him. "Ah....ah...nope. Not even."
He tries to suck up his tears. He looks back at his Mama and this time tries a different call, "Auntie!" Still, they walked. They disappeared around the corner. Full-on tears. Big Daddy-man gives the boy his Batman mask. And here's where it gets fun:
"Here, go ahead, put it on. That way we don't have to hear you cryin' or, worse, SEE you cryin'. Put that on, maybe Batman will make you feel tough. Pathetic. Huh, feel better? Feel tough? Will ya stop now?" If someone spoke to my son in this way he'd still be recovering from backlash.
Both my brother and I recoiled in silent disgust. Uploading pain and psychosis into innocent child...now. I don't interfere in another's parenting: I don't know the whole story, it could be a different culture and tradition perhaps...so many possibilites. But... he was a baby. A sweet, innocent boy, younger than 5, that wanted some love and attention from his mother. But he was forced to stay behind and learn his "tough act." This is where we learn to start wearing our masks. Literally! Wow!
Can you remember when you were first told to wear a mask? And why? And do you know that all of that isn't yours to carry?
Wow. This is where it starts. All of this that we're seeing. Denied self-expression, acceptance, love, and nurturing at a young age. Leaving young, impressionable children in the dark, to sort out their own powerful emotions as they grow and learn about their world. It's a kind of neglect and abuse, growing up in a cold home. And it turns human beings into monsters, sometimes, as they grow.
The Paradox of it All:
A child can learn self-defense and confidence and still believe in the goodness and tenderness of people.
A child can be strong and raised with moral values and honored family traditions, and still be able to express sadness, loneliness, vulnerability, and fear, in a healthy way.
A child taught not to cry, becomes an adult who never feels safe enough to cry, which creates instability. I myself have only recently learned how to truly cry, and thereby, heal myself. <---big one
A child can be taught self-sufficiency and also be able and willing to offer and accept help.
A child raised to be blindly obedient, without a sense of self, becomes a weakened and confused adult who then, if they're wise, must take a lot of time and effort to understand their past, and to heal. As so many of us do. But not all adults want to heal. Many want to perpetuate a damaging cycle.
Add years and years of stifled pain and emotion, and here we are. Watch the news. Raised in fear, to see the world in fear, to act and react in fear.
When does it stop?
I'm not saying raise your children to be spoiled, self-indulgent, and disconnected. Silver spoon syndrome helps no one. I'm not saying to raise them to be dramatic martyrs, either. Extremes make headlines and get attention but aren't the only page-turners and makers of change. There is a healthy middle, there is a balanced place where the best of strength and compassion and cool heads meet... and that is my goal. To teach from that place. To parent from that place. To live from that place. it's quite a place to strive for. And I'm definitely not there, yet.
I screw it up a lot. I still catch myself reacting in heated and emotional moments, wanting to cast out blame. It't that! it's them! It's her, it's him! Oh, but those moments when I can see it, step back, recalibrate? That's where the lessons fly in. Here's the thing though, if we're not screwing up and making mistakes, we're not learning anything. We're staying still. Safe. Bubble-wrapped. Our world will never change, if we don't.
I am far from perfect, I put my foot in my mouth daily among other incessant mistakes. (Sorry...everyone, ever. Full-on human. Still working on it.)
But I'd be wasting precious time if I stayed there, in the mistake. I learn, I adjust my behavior and thinking about that sort of issue, and I roll on. As does anyone. We hope.
Dear Little Teary-Eyed Boy:
I hope that you grow into a wonderful and happy young man. I hope that your peers and your schooling and the books you read and the places you travel to and the people you meet will broaden your perspective. I hope that you learn how to let your cries out in a healthy way. I hope that you get in touch with what makes you come alive and what grounds you and brings you inner peace. I hope that you know...it's okay to cry, when you feel the need to release powerful emotions.
Grown men who are well-adjusted, successful, and happy...do cry sometimes. When they are vulnerable, when they are moved, when they are saddened, when they grieve, when they are terribly frightened. They just don't stay in it, they don't prolong it and hold onto it. It's a natural and cleansing gift to us, it's a reset, it's a clearing out of stagnant emotion. And when dealt with, head-on, it cycles through quickly. But when ignored, stuffed down, condescended to, forgotten, or worse, punished...those cries get stuck inside. They linger and fester and rot and get absorbed into our flesh and bones and memory.
And this is an aberration. It's a fear that we carry our whole lives, that was never really ours to begin with. And yet, when it becomes us, we inflict it upon others, when it wasn't theirs, either. This is a cycle that must end. This suppressing of human emotion.
Just find the middle. It's where all the best things happen. In harmony, with balance.
what if there is no Meaning?
what if we are here, simply to Love?
To relish in what was once an abundant paradise?
what if...we had it all:
rivers, streams, wildlife, waterfalls?
conscious thought to appreciate it all
and to see and connect with each other?
and maybe somewhere,
in the realm of conscious thought,
we began to question and seek.
the seek for meaning, we had to assign meaning
great, grand, unquestionable meaning,
to such simple beauty and abundance.
we had to explain it to ourselves,
a prime reason for existence,
for what was once Heaven on earth.
to be sure, such paradise came with perils:
natural disasters and unexpected events;
the very wrath and ferocity of nature, Herself.
let us always remember that to be natural
is to be both beautiful and serene,
while also being savage and unapologetic.
utmost beauty and Light in contrast
with destruction and darkness.
this is Life. at its most simple, without pretense
and the delicious sugarcoating that we love so much.
the glaze that makes our lives so palatable and sweet,
the desire to magnify the beautiful
and look past the broken and raw and ferocious.
but we had to find meaning,
we had to, and we do still.
and so we created belief.
and then there were divergent beliefs.
this caused conflict.
and hell on Earth,
as humans battled with their beliefs
in their attempts to understand and explain what was given
in such simplicity and ease in Being.
we are here to work and to Love,
to care for ourselves and others,
to nourish and replenish,
to celebrate, to dance, to smile.
in our search to create meaning,
we've lost our true purpose.
what Life ought to mean:
Love, effort, abundance, celebration, creation, consolation, connection
what we've created in our time here:
conflict, judgments, illness, imbalance, cruelty, distortion, stagnancy, hatred, greed
we've also created:
progress, growth, art, masterpieces,
bold and unabashed testaments to our collective existence.
we bear witness to our searching hearts,
we provide proof of our existence,
we leave imprints, we plan and calculate memories
in a desperate attempt to scream out that
WE WERE HERE.
but what if there is nothing to fix?
what if this is who we are?
what if... Life... is simply this?
but not just to live
but to dive in deep
and live loudly.
to communicate, freely.
to express, to feel,
to move beyond,
to not conceal,
but to show, to share,
to glow, to be aware
of each other, so gratefully.
and how precious is this?
these strings, these precious things,
these tethers, these threads,
a simple tug, a lonely moment,
travels and connects us
to each other, but really,
back to ourselves.
because to see each other's eyes
and to breathe each other's sighs
above and between the
clenched fists and the cries
is to be Love
to be in connection
to be awakened
to know that we are all in it together
it's not how long Life is,
but it's what we do with it.
perhaps this is the question to ask:
not the why, and wherefore, and how-come
of it all, but the what.
deep into Life.
what are we doing with it?
I don't post these bits of writing as often as I used to, although I'm still writing, offline. These days, it often seems as though, if it's not posted on social media, it didn't happen. We post and share these snippets, these moments, these mere fractals of who we are and get to paint pictures of each other based on these snippets. They are just that, though. Snippets. Tiny little pieces, glimpses; some real, some not. Although more and more, I think collectively, we can tell what's authentic and what isn't. And that's okay, we learn to be discerning. All of it is for a reason, for our growth and expansion. I say as long as you get something positive as a takeaway, be it a church, a "tribe," a Facebook group, new connections and friends, whatever it is...as long as you can grow and learn things about yourself and improve, then it's worth it. It's all worth it. In this world, I think it's absolutely worth the cost of some subscription fee to find a community of people that think like you and love you the way that you are. Caring for our minds, for our mental health, is abysmal, in this country. So, in this new path of awareness, we somehow end up caring for each other. In our communities, our friendships, our relationships of so many forms. In the knowing how interconnected we are, self-mastery is really evolving all of humanity. So, it's not selfish to explore, know, love, and care for yourself, it's vital. For the whole.
This is our world now. Global. Interconnected. Electric and pulsating with webs of energy, holding us together, and it's not just the internet. We feel each other now, all over the spectrum. Hot and cold, happy and sad, nourished and starving. It's permeating into everything, our media, our TV shows, it's all over popular culture. (I've just been introduced to Sense8 and felt myself nodding fervently... YES, JUST LIKE THAT!) And why? Why are these new and unique ways of feeling and sensing the world and each other becoming entertainment? Because people feel something that stirs and moves them, and write or create something to capture it. Thoughts spread, they plant seeds, and create clusters of new thoughts. And so it goes.
I've read accounts that say it's all Mind. Consciousness. Everything. And I believe this. I believe that soul and consciousness are one and the same, I've said as much before. And as such, the mind/soul runs on programs, or ... stories. (Enter Joseph Campbell.)
Our existence, at the core, is thought-based. How often does science-fiction become science? And how? Because some creative somewhere glimpsed a different view and brought it out of the ether and into our mind-space. And it then became something tangible, something imaginable, something...real. Much like a chef visualizes a dish in the mind: how it looks, its textures, how it feels in the mouth, how it tastes on the tongue ... and then gets to create it in the physical. It all starts with thought. So, let's be careful what we wish for, lest we bring it into being with us. Yes, the human mind is that powerful, it's all connected. Everything. Always, through energy. Imagine and create, imagine and create. It's what we do. It's who we are.
I do love to wax philosophical. But moving on...
As far as my own writing goes, I've been struggling with focus a lot. Too many projects working, not enough focus on one particular piece of writing. I think I get ahead and figure something out, dive in, strong, and then I lose focus and go chase a butterfly into another state, past a waterfall, stumble into a new patch of green, a new path, a new trail, a new shining face, a new story. Or a new city. I adore novelty, anything new. Always exploring, seeking, searching, learning. Not looking for more, or chasing something, but because deep inside I have this inextinguishable desire to experience my life. Up close. I want to feel the sculpture and allow my mind to time-travel back to its creator and absorb those sensations and perspectives (see: psychometry). I want to see original works of art, up close, with my own eyes, not reproduced. I want to inhale the sweet scents of tropical citrus in the evening breeze, lingering with the ocean spray and twilight air. I want to savor the exquisite flavors of new food prepared in another country with ingredients local to that place, with a passion steeped in culture and tradition.
I can use my extra-senses so easily now, and I love that, but I am a grounded, physical being, and I want to dive in and FEEL my life up close. With my body, my fingers, my toes, my face. Which is all great for inspiration, but when do I actually use that...and WRITE? Well, I have in fact, been quite distracted. It's true. All the while, I've had this other project on the front burner...
"You can't ride two horses with one ass, sugar bean." - Sweet Home Alabama
So. I've been working on the book of ME. The most challenging, yet most rewarding project that I've ever had the courage to work on...has been myself. What do I want, what do I not like? Who am I, really? Am I a novelist, or something else? What do I believe, what do I fight for, what do I value and hold closer than anything else? What kind of world do I want to live in, what kind of world do I want my son to grow up in? What do I eat, what makes me feel good, what keeps me the most healthy? Do I like the gym or do I like yoga? Or both? What collections of preferences make up...me?
Big questions, and I'll be honest, I still don't know how to answer some of them. As I've stated many times, I am a spiritual seeker. A quest person, a path person, a lesson junkie, a soul who seeks to evolve and grow at all turns. Sometimes, I make mistakes and pull back into myself and realize that I let my ego drive. Sometimes, for months at a time. And that's okay. All of it is. We are spiritual beings, with very grounded earth-based bodies that need attention and care as well. We often pretend that we get off path, off course. That we lose our way, that we fall. What if it's all the same course? What if every trip and fall and stumble and mistake is all right where it's supposed to be?
I don't know. I know 3% of what I used to claim to know. That's not to say that I am offering the idea that I am unintelligent. But merely to say that...there is more that we don't know, as a species, than that which we do know. Which is what makes it all so fun and exciting. Facts or opinions don't become more powerful or more true the louder they are ranted. They just morph with the rest of the noise. And that's all we have is noise, everywhere. Phones, gadgets, watches, tablets, computers, TVs, magazines, books, and on and on and on.
Life is to be felt, experienced, chosen, and learned from, I feel. Individually, toward a collective contribution, as a species on a diverse planet. I only know that I can listen. And transform, toward the call of my own soul, my own path. We might cross from time to time, but your path is yours...it is not mine.
Finish Wild Horses & Mistakes
Embark on a quest of further spiritual study while pursuing next creative endeavor... which is hard to summarize, but to say... that my real story lies in my humanity. In co-parenting, in managing anxieties, in choosing happiness and seeing beauty in life despite what seems to crumble around us. And the tools, techniques, and lovely explorations of self that help us along the way.
Here's what I do know, an unabashed who-am-I:
the light side:
a loving and learning Mom
a giver, a sharer
a creative, free spirit
an empath and a healer
a kid at heart
a cheerleader and well-wisher
an optimist, overall
a kitchen/car dancer, with dreams of live salsa or samba lessons
a family-centered person
an awakened woman, who has an arsenal of tools and techniques for living a joyful and connected life and feels it's a mission to share with these with others
the dark side:
often plagued with anxiety, mine or someone else's, although the healing is the same
independent and quite stubborn, yet often feels lonely
scattered and unfocused
often puts way too much on my plate so that something always falls off
has trouble with setting healthy boundaries, at times
has binders of healthy recipes and doesn't make time to prep or cook
too self-critical and quick to self-sabotage
given to eating sugar-laden comfort foods when overloaded with sensory information
sends mixed signals, due to anxieties and trust issues
sometimes internalizes and shuts down and seeks solitude when overwhelmed
lives in a world of energy that most don't/won't understand and thereby has many walls up
I'll catch up soon... xoxo
I took myself on a date, tonight.
All my friends, grown adults all, have been raving about Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast. I had to go. I was always a big fan of the Disney films, through childhood and beyond. And I think women are depicted in better and stronger ways, as the years go by.
The music, I knew by heart, mostly. The songs from the animated film are here, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, with Tim Rice's lyrics. Songs from the Broadway musical are included as well. A lot of the original came through well in live action.
I won't post a whole review here, but what I wanted to press on, what struck me most, was the... Life. The magic.
Without giving away too much, we should all know from this classic tale, that there is a castle with inanimate objects... that speak, and walk, and interact. And perform musical numbers at dinner time.
What I found profoundly beautiful, was was the moment when the last petal fell and the manor was suspended in darkness. The once "alive," however preposterous, objects that lived in the castle... had become inanimate once again. A chair is a chair, and that's it, right? But once it exudes essence, energy, charisma, empathy, growth... a chair is not just a chair. It is a being. A live being. And when something alive goes dark, it's powerful. Energy changes. When living energy leaves matter, it's felt. We feel it when loved ones pass on, some of us know just when the energy leaves the body. Why not when the last gorgeous wild animal of its kind goes extinct? Why not when another majestic rainforest is plowed down for industry? Why not when sacred tribal land is raped for transporting oil?
It was a perfect depiction of our Earth, its elements... nature... and how alive She is. If people can connect with and relate to a talking tea cup on a movie screen, and feel heartbroken at its silence... why can't we feel the same toward a sacred natural site? Toward our coral reefs? Are they not...alive? Or other human beings, who aren't quite the same as we are, on the outside. Or animals. Or anything at all in this existence, because it's all made of energy, which is Life.
Life force, this magical, connective tissue, runs through and tethers us all to one another. From me to you to the forest to the sea to the pulsing Sun and the stars beyond, that feed and heal us all. How powerful that is. To be aware and present to witness such a sacred, divine, force of nature that brings Life, movement, growth.
In the case of Beauty and the Beast, the people are cursed and turned into these objects, which is what animates them. But let's consider something, in real-life, for a moment.
Consider, that humans and say... oak trees... share some DNA. Which, scientifically, makes us relatives. Yes, we all come from the same stuff, originally. And it's all energy. All the time, new discoveries are made that tell us plants can communicate. That our heart's radiate energy and vibration. That energy responds to different tones and sounds and emotions, in different ways.
The film was just a lovely reminder, that all of it... our home, our planet, its objects, its creatures big and small, its waters and air and starlight and dirt.. all of it is brimming with Life. Energy. The exciting discovery, although a long-held and muted belief for some, is how energy can change its behavior based upon the attention it receives.
Is it a coincidence that in all the fairytales... Love wins? True love's kiss, or healing one's heart, or overcoming obstacles, to save... Love. Love is said to be the most powerful form of energy that there is. Love heals. Love revives. Love fights for justice. Love lifts the weak. Love shelters the poor. Love explores and seeks discovery for the greater good. Goodness, charity, altruism, giving, inspiring, supporting... these are all forms of Love. And the Light the poets write about about, perhaps, is Love. Love unconditional. Love is the balm of the living and when we know and act on this idea, the energies that are affected by Love, change in its embrace. Its attention. Just as the opposite is true.
If energy is this sensitive, and alters its behavior in response to the attention it receives, then perhaps one of the greatest gifts that we give one another, is our loving attention. Because if it's all energy, and we are all connected, through the same force, then we already are this Love.
I've rambled a bit, as I do. But I guess what I'm saying is that maybe John was right, in more ways than I understood as a teenager:
"All you need...is Love."
"Read your book. You're flirting with dangerous stuff..."
Me: "Awesome. I love making people think, it's my favorite." Big smiles, Namaste, Be Well...etc... I go back to thinking about the paleo vs vegan argument. And that perhaps, I could do it...IF I could keep bacon and didn't have to eat seitan. How could I go vegan and not eat grain? It doesn't compute...what would I eat, lettuce and fruit? I'd waste away from malnutrition...nah, stick to Slow, sustainable...
"I mean, you're pretty delusional, though...." It continues. Awesome. Let it go, let it go... <-----Elsa sings in my head. "I mean..." I realize that I am in no way, shape, or form...letting it go. I was getting riled up, I couldn't help myself. DEFEND YOUR ART! The ego screams... Okay..let's do this.
"Enlighten me," I say. :Rolls shoulders back:
"It makes no sense, how can you be spiritual...and not religious. It COMES from religion. The Light you talk about...IS JESUS. You're contradicting yourself, here." Okay, a Christian. I was raised Christian, no problem.
But...Oh boy. I won't rehash the whole debate here, but I'm sure you can all imagine where it might have went. And it did, and then back again.
I will let you all explore and educate on your own, the information is out there, if you care to look and form your own conclusions. What I can do is offer a window into my own experiences, thoughts, and notions on the subject. The driving force behind the more philosophical bits in the Ana story. We all form our own ideas about things, I don't expect anyone to read anything and take it at face value. Even stuff I write. I'm just another human. Come up with your own understandings and ideas. It's okay to think, really. It is.
For me...from a young age, I had a problem with dogma. The staunch rules, the contridictions, the absolutes...and the ugliness that radical belief has caused, historically. For me, it hasn't worked, so I thought... what would? Could I keep the beautiful, mystical, inspiring messages...the wonder and awe and gratitude for Life...and let go of the oppression, the judgment, the hellfire, the cruelty, the domination...etc...
So that's what I did. Spiritual. Yes, I believe we have a soul, a spirit. I believe our soul IS our consciousness. I believe they are one and the same. I believe the mind is more than the brain. I believe there are greater forces at work FOR US and not against us. I believe that it is up to us to see, feel, and appreciate this force and to allow it into our lives and consciousness. I believe that by doing so, we evolve, we grow, we heal inside, and we influence our outer world. I believe that we are very powerful beings and that we can utilize this force, this divine energy, in positive or negative ways. I believe that it is our choice. I believe that Heaven and Hell are ideas, that exist within each of us. For some, they see religion as their savior. For me, I see religion as a human-made construct that divides and destroys us.
Throughout history, the most atrocious and destructive wars have been fought in the name of religion. The most vile and disgusting behaviors have been allowed and not spoken of.
Any school of thought, however widely accepted, that fosters hatred, judgment, annhiliation, murder, and cruelty...is not of God. God...is pure Love. Pure Love does not destroy, it heals. Pure Love does not have a gender, God is not male nor female, but amorphous and omnipresent. Love does not condemn, it accepts. Love does not wage war, it seeks peace.
Since I was a teenager, this has been my view. And I have seen, felt, and known enough, to believe that for me? In my world view? This is the path. Every fiber in my being says so.
I have friends of all different faiths. And we all accept each other. We accept and respect differences, we discuss similarities and learn from where ideas diverge. Sit back and observe social media for a bit. Especially the self-help pages. They're filled with uplifting statements, little tokens to keep you "vibing high?" I get it, that's great. I appreciate it. But if you are aware of where these messages come from...you'll see the most beautiful statements from a myriad of different faiths and idealogies. Buddhism. Christiantity. Muslim. Hinduism. Kabbalah. Taoism. Even some Paganism and Wicca. All mixed up together, nicely, toward the purpose of inspiring us. Without the dogma. All of these idealogies, existing together, without arguing, on one feed. And what we can learn from this, the LESSON here, is...wait for it, wait for it...
What if the way forward is not to create one mass faith? To simply convert or destroy? What if moving forward means to accept and respect individual ideas, toward a common purpose, sharing simple moral virtues of our shared humanity? Kindness. Acceptance. Do no harm. Love. And by Love I don't mean "romance," I mean unconditional Love, support, caring, and holding ourselves in a positive space, energetically.
What if...as I wrote in Ana's journey... what if it really is all energy? What if we are responsible for what we put out? What if religion was simply a way of assigning value and form to an indescribable phenomenon? And what if we all healed ourselves and put out positive energy, toward a common evolution, regardless of religion? What if...we actually did have that much power? If you're Christian, what if Christ flowed through you...and you had the opportunity to use that force for good? You, alone? What if Christ has returned...in the form of consciousness? What if it was up to you to connect to it? What if we are all the same, connected at the Source? And if we stopped fighting, well...wow. What could we do? How might we grow, change for the better, collectively?
These are just thoughts, and by all means... only absorb what you resonate with. Read, learn, and make your own decisions, for sure. But in case you find yourself wondering in the middle of the night...feeling, just knowing that there is more? That something...something is different, but you can't put your finger on it? It's us. We're changing. Collectively, we are evolving. We are growing more conscious, more aware, more empathic, more connected. More and more every day. Embrace it. Shift. It's happening, in a real way. We can see it, as we look around, as we observe. We can see waves of empathy, acts of Love, rethinking and evaluating old ideas that don't work. Ages-old information coming to light, information that changes perspectives.
Even the Dalai Lama has spoken on the need for humanity to embrace...humanity. Love, kindness, compassion. And to let go of the old ideas of religion, ideas that no longer serve us. We can heal each other, we can move forward together. We can create Heaven on earth or Hell on earth. It's us, it's up to us.
This shift...is what Ana J. Awakens is all about. And I won't apologize for writing it, for feeling it, for being the lucky one who got to let it flow through her. The story changed me and my world, no...my Universal view. It brought me in contact with souls that I had never known existed, which I am still so grateful for, as these people have taught me, and connected with me in ways that I still can't explain. But I'm grateful. And as much as I've rambled here, I've barely skimmed the surface. The mind, the consciousness, will only perceive what it's prepared to perceive. We only experience and "see" what we believe. This is why beliefs need to be challenged and outdated ideas need to be let go. Make room for the new. For the unimaginable. For the inexplicable. For awe, for wonder. And have fun with it! The spiritual journey can and should be one of wonder, joy, growth, laughter, perspective, meaning...and oftentimes, absurdity. But we must always remember the child inside. Love, grow, learn (unlearn), dance, laugh, smile, and delight in the simple things. The world is what we make of it...each of us. Why not imagine something beautiful, why not interpret the world in a way that empowers and delights you? There is a lot to love and to appreciate, if you look around...and let it in.
Somewhere, there is a place where spirituality and current science meet...and this is where we are, collectively. Maybe. I am never sure of anything, I am constantly in flux these days, and I love that. As it is in nature. Such is the spiritual path. Such is Life. A constant ebb and flow. Let Love be our constant. <3
Hello friends. It's been a doozy of a week or two. Let's just say that some recent revelations, crumbling of illusions...still... have led me to explore some old things. The past.
Everywhere we turn we read something that tells us that the past is in the past. "Let it go...let it go..." But I really do think that in order to have a clear picture of where we're going, that we must look at and know where we've been. And not to forget...but to remember.
I finally went through an old box that's been lurking around. Songs. Lyrics, chords, notes, poems...from the nineties. A lifetime ago, and yet...reading through these things, these snippets, these snapshots in time reminding me who I was, what I was feeling, what I wanted...was like reuniting with an old friend. I laughed, I cried a little, I sighed, I smiled. Music. I lived and breathed words and music. I came across notebooks that should've been filled with notes that pertained to the courses I was taking...but instead? Songs. Words, words, feelings, more words.
This in particular stuck out:
"June 10, 2000:
Too often our surroundings can suffocate us. We can become overwhelmed and feel backed into a corner. Our senses get muddled and at times it seems we're screaming with urgent intensity and yet no one is listening. Sometimes all we need is to wake up, in every way a person can awaken, and look at the world with a different perspective. Every day can be a new beginning. I know that now.
Looking back, browsing through the experiences I've had living in the microcosm I call 'my world,' it took a while to get here. Just like any other, my life was filled with ups and downs, high hopes and disappointments, triumphs and failures. What I've realized, is that every experience, every person we meet and every situation we encounter, help us to grow.
Bad things happen, but we can learn from them. The good things we can keep with us in our memories, in our hearts; they can remain there to keep us warm. In order to appreciate the positive, we must endure the negative."
I'm not sure what prompted these words...the perspective...although I'm sure if I ask around I'll find out something. Reading them took my breath away. I thought such a perspective, those words, were new and shiny for me. But they weren't. I always say that we are writing...our whole lives. And literally, right here, in my own handwriting...I see the impetus for the writing that became the novel I wrote and the quotes and inspirational words that I share. The vision, the seed, was planted so many years ago. Hidden, growing, in silence. With me...completely unaware of them. And maybe it's more than that.
Big picture...I feel as though I've just rekindled a relationship with my soul. With the child inside. And it's...awe inspiring. Inexplicable. It's...connection, in the best possible way.
What happens to us?
So many of us, as children, and into adolescence...have such vivid dreams. I was knee deep in these old songs I wrote, and they were just dripping with passion. Longing. Ideas of love. Mystery and magic. Heartbreak, emptiness, loneliness, feeling lost. And at the same time, envisioning a bright future, healing the world, breaking down stereotypes. So idealistic, so full of hope. All I wanted to do was write music, sing, and inspire people. Connect with people, connect people to each other. Let them know that if only for 3 and a half minutes...that I felt it too...that they weren't alone.
So, once again, looking back...I see that somewhere, some time...I decided that my dreams weren't enough. They wouldn't cut it. I got "real." A passion became a hobby which became a once in a while thing...which eventually faded into obscurity. Somewhere along the line, I let the external control my wishes. I stopped believing, in all of it. Until the desire to write finally rose back up. And I am still beyond grateful for that day...March 28, 2015. Renaissance began. The ME inside, woke up.
A lot of this awakening that we read about...this waking up, evolving, remembering "who we are..." doesn't always have to mean something profound and epic. Sometimes, I think that a spiritual awakening is an obstacle course, bursting with opportunities for insight and life lessons...learning compassion and imperfection... showing us a whole new perspective and vision of our lives and what they could be... to lead us right back to where we started...ourselves. Indeed, it starts within. Just think of all the systems that exist...within us. Each of us. From neutrinos to bacteria to organs to our bodies and minds and souls...there are indeed universes within each of us. And yes, we are in relationship with ourselves. From our cells to our speech. And then, to make it more fun and exciting, we are also in constant relationship with everything and everyone else. Perhaps that's why we see "Self-love" everywhere. There's so much to balance and work on within each one of us, and each thought and word and action...has impact.
Wow...so what does that mean? I don't know. I think it means that we owe it to the greater good of our species and planet, at least, to understand and know ourselves enough to be responsible participants in the journey of life.
We're all the same, at the core of things...and yet there is only one ME. There is only one YOU. Remembering who I am has more to do with the little girl who lost her way, years ago, then with ascending to mysterious dimensions of spirituality and bending space-time. And that's another topic, entirely.
It's fascinating to see how I've come full circle. Let's find ourselves, the ones who've been hidden, waiting, with so much to say, having been silenced for so long, before the influence and hardships of life got inside...and changed us. Let's find our Selves...from this life. Right here, right now. And let's get our hands dirty with learning and experiencing, with "ups and downs, high hopes and disappointments, triumphs and failures." Let's live...while we're here. Right? Isn't that the point? And to somehow find the balance in all of it, and find joy knowing that we are awake, alive, and participating in the writing of our own stories.
Whatever this Life is...it's happening. And to make the most of it, is to know...who we are. What we want. What fills us with passion. And maybe some things ought to stay in the past. Some things need another look, and they're let go. And maybe some things need to be reintegrated and given the attention that they deserve. And something else that fascinates me...one glance at these old words, from...1997, most seem to be...and the melody instantly came back. I sang them in my head as I read. How powerful is that? Not a thought in nearly 20 years, and then...wow. Instant recognition and recall. So, what does all this mean? I'm not quite sure...but I will say that I've started writing music again.
Hello, heart. I see you. Let's talk. I'm listening. <3