Tomorrow, I am embarking on a weekend of adventure that will have me riding back and forth through a time continuum…present, past and future. I am meeting up with a new friend named Neil (who I have not yet met in person) who contacted me via someone who teaches a workshop that I also facilitate. This lovely soul is offering me a thai massage session and who am I to turn THAT down? Following what I know will be an exquisite experience, I will be heading to Maryland to visit with Nancy, a friend I have known for the past 5 or 6 years. She has graciously agreed to host me overnight so that I can arise bright and early (and in the same town) and speak at the On Purpose Woman Conference in Columbia, MD. I am focusing on the subject of Abundant Self Love. Since we teach what we need to learn, I chose that topic, as it is my own growing edge. Can anyone else relate to that? I am guessing so. If you feel you have it mastered, please enlighten me! Eager to connect with many new friends, since we so enrich each other’s lives when we meet heart to heart and face to face. Within a heart beat after the event, I am sprouting wings and zipping northward to my 35th High School Reunion in New Jersey. WHEW!
That is where this story really begins. I grew up in a middle class, suburban South Jersey neighborhood called Pennypacker Park in Willingboro, New Jersey. It was one of the three origninal Levittowns, (PA and NY being the other two) that were created following WWII as affordable housing for returning vets. I think that the Malvina Reynolds’ song called Little Boxes was written for them. There were three different models that alternated and repeated all the way down the streets. I graduated from one of the two high schools. Mine was called Willingboro High School, that was built after John F. Kennedy High School couldn’t accomodate the growing population. One of its claims to fame was that Olypmic athlete Carl Lewis also graduated from our school (in my sister’s class of 1979).
For the most part, I enjoyed school. Busy with classes, extracurricular activities like Homecoming Committee, Jr. and Sr. Prom Committees, Drama Club, Student Government, The Z Club, Ecology Club, Swim Team, I had a full immersion experience AND YET, (she writes wistfully) I still felt like that ‘alien baby left on my parents’ doorstep’ as I have described here before. I had friends all across the spectrum, but still felt like the odd woman out. For most of my life, I have lived this paradigm of not quite feeling like ‘one of the cool kids’; whatever the heck that actually means. I also wondered what it would be like to breeze through life, accepted without having to second guess what people expected and adjusting my sails according to which way the wind was blowing. Part of the budding co-dependent tendencies, I suppose. I viewed many of my classmates as having that coveted role, although, quite likely they too were harboring their own insecurities. So, as the reunion loomed (I had never attended any previously), I was faced with a mix of excitement and a mild bit of anxiety. What if everyone else STILL seems more together or confident? What if, when I step through the door, I still feel like I need to batten down the hatches against my own tidal wave emotions? Hand me a ‘drama-mine’ (dramamine) for my e-motion sickness, please. Last night, I was perusing my year book and smiled, laughed and teared up a bit as I gazed at those faces and wondered these things:
“I have such mixed emotions and a sense of compassion for the part of me that never felt like ‘one of the cool kids’, not quite fitting in to one particular clique, even though I had friends in all the different social strata. As I look at all of these faces, I laugh at the fashion and hairstyles, (uber ’70’s) and wonder what my classmates were thinking at that time. Were they excited, confident, nervous, scared shitless to be launching out into the world? I know I was a little of all of those things. At the back of the yearbook were tidbits about us. I was dubbed “Head Kidnapper” by some of my friends, since I orchestrated a birthday kidnapping of our friend Carolyn West that we blindfolded and took to an ice cream parlor. I had aspirations of becoming a Psychologist….never did…Social Worker/Author/Journalist/Speaker/Minister/Clown instead. Wonder what we will discover about ourselves by the end of the night. ?”
I invite you to share your experiences of high school and/or your reunions.
http://youtu.be/nQuRtbx1qOQ Through The Years-Kenny Rogers
http://youtu.be/2_2lGkEU4Xs Little Boxes-Malvina Reynolds
Today as I was speaking with a client, he mentioned that he tends to “dwell on” all of the things that could go wrong in his life. I asked him about this ‘dwelling’ and the alternate meaning of the word. He smiled and said that it meant a place to live. I reminded him that when we are ‘dwelling’ on the ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’s ‘ of the past or the ‘what if’s and if onlies’ of the future that hasn’t yet arrived, then even though our bodies may be in this present here and now moment, we really aren’t dwelling here. We are just existing because our attention is elsewhere. I rolled back to a thought I had a few days ago. What if this life, as it is now, my current circumstances would be all there is? What if the dreams and desires that I have for a certain kind of life, would not happen? Could I be ok with it? Could I accept it or would it always be a point of frustration? I recognized the mind games I play with myself and was able to just sigh and surrender, knowing that all is in Divine timing and unfolds as is for the Highest Good and then, quite naturally, more way cool things happened.
Tonight I was speaking with my friend Ondreah and out of the blue, she used the word ‘dwelling’ too and that’s when I knew I needed to write about this concept. She referenced part of her spiritual practice of Siddha Yoga, that has at its core, these three concepts.
“The heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.” –Bhagawan Nityananda
“See God in each other.” –Swami Muktananda
“God dwells within you as you.” –Swami Muktananda
How would it be for you to sit in awareness of those ideas? We don’t often think of our hearts as places in which we can roam around. What if it was spacious enough to do that? Can you expand your spiritual/emotional heart (not necessarily the cardiac muscle) so that it can allow in the people and experiences that come your way without tossing them out simply because they don’t quite fit?
Can you view everyone whose path you cross as if they were emanations of the Divine; even (and especially) those who don’t fit your image of The Everlasting? I face that every time I hold judgement against those whose values are counter to my own. Since we are created in the ‘image and likeness’, who am I to detemine who is ‘like unto God’ and who in my ‘all knowing wise guy’ opinion, just isn’t):?
AND perhaps even the most challenging treatise…seeing ourselves as I have heard it said in New Thought circles as “God in a body.” Blasphemy, according to some, the highest truth they know, to others. As a God spark, how infinite could we possibly be in our thoughts and actions? The ideas that float through our minds now, seem limiting when they could be limitless. How expansive are you willing to be?
Where do you prefer to dwell?
Love After Love
The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door,
in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, w
hom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror.
Feast on your life.
http://youtu.be/RidwWEmM4NE Love After Love- by Derek Wolcott
Just finished watching a movie that my son has been encouraging me to view for the past few months. “It’s your kind of movie, Mom,” insisted my 25 year old cynic, who pretends not to be spiritual, but secretly, I think he is. So, we sprawled in the living room, and traveled The Camino with Martin Sheen and a motley crew of pilgrims who were on the path for various reasons. A brilliant directing job by Emilio Estevez, The Way was inspired by the family’s Spanish heritage. It tells the story of widowed California opthomologist Tom Avery whose 39 year old son Daniel (played by Estevez) dies in the Pyrenees Mountains while making the trek himself; embarking on the pilgrimage as a way of being in the world. A conversation between the father and son takes place in the car prior to his departure. Looking like mirror images of each other, the elder says “This is the life I’ve chosen.” (indicating that somehow his son thought his life was boring), to which Daniel sagely replies “You don’t choose your life, you live it.” This becomes a theme that weaves its way through the film. Inititally, the character of Tom hurries through the 800 km trail, intending to place his son’s ashes at the foot of the statue of St. James in the Cathedral de Santiago and return to his ‘normal life’. Along the way, he encounters others. Some are just occasional passersby, others he sees from time to time. Three remain with him; each with their own quirks that push his buttons mightily. He keeps his feelings repressed; chances are, his M.O. in his life back home, until one day in an uncharacteristic drunken state, he tells them what he thinks of them…the pot smoking, drug dealing Dutch bon vivant, who says he there to lose weight, but indulges in an eating fest at every stop, the verbose Irish travel writer who wants to be an author who collects stories of other pilgrims, and the chain smoking Canadian woman whose anger sticks out all over her, like a prickly pear cactus until we find out what’s behind it. Once the ice is broken, they form a bond that carries them through their weeks together. One thought I had was that these characters were like Dorothy’s companions in The Wizard of Oz and that Cathedral de Santiago was indeed The Emerald City. It also became apparent that although each carried his or her own literal backpack with ‘necessary’ items for safety and comfort, having others with them, in a sense, ‘lightened the load’ so it didn’t feel quite so heavy and burdensome. It was a certainty that the longer they were on the trail, the stronger they became, and yet, had less emotional baggage to tote around.
Not your typical road trip film, to be sure. The character of Tom begins to peel off the layers of pain and shares it with his fellow travelers, allowing them behind the protective walls. Throughout the journey, Daniel shows up in various places, as if accompanying Tom in ways beyond the cremains he carries in a silver box (scattering them at various stops along the way) bound to his son’s backback that he claimed after identifying the body in the morgue. Tom learns to slow down, laugh and truly live his life. It is a land-voyage of discovering who he is as a man, a father, and a spiritual being. The Way is one on which we all must walk, whether or not we carry a backpack and trek from France to Spain. It is an experience of this lifetime, with no shortcuts, but one complete with twists and turns, testing of our faith and endurance. Ultimately it takes us Home. “Buon Camino.”
http://youtu.be/HtAovpHDZqc Walking The Camino De Santiago, Spain With Original Song “Pilgrim Road” by Bobby Roche
This weekend, I trekked down to Maryland and spent time with a group of stretchers and seekers; those who were willing to dive in deep, go wide, dance with their demons and the Divine. The workshop called Come As You Are invited us to peel off the layers that we thought had protected us and kept us safe but (in my case at least), held me back from being authentic and truly allowing people in.
A little background on the facilitators will put it into perspective.
Eugene Hedlund is a certified 5 Rhythms teacher and the founder of the SheddingSkins path of personal transformation. He is based in San Diego, California and teaches both 5 Rhythms and SheddingSkins workshops throughout the US and in Europe. The SheddingSkins path is a seamless blend of Movement Meditation, Sound Alchemy, Shamanic Ritual and Tantric Ceremony into one cohesive practice where each of these medicines are used to create a comprehensive system of personal transformation.
Monique Darling has studied with phenomenal teachers since the 1990s and offers private sessions, workshops & cuddle parties around the country spreading her love and healing.She has been featured on TLC, The Dr’s, and interviewed in magazine’s for the work she is doing. She is the founder of Divine Interludes where she specializes in transmuting fear and repression into courage, love & freedom. Helping people reclaim their voices and expressing themselves at full volume.
Together they wove a safe chrysalis in which we budding butterflies could grow until we were ready to break free. They coached but did not crack us open. We were to do that ourselves should we choose, and on one level or another, we did. I did something uncharacteristic as I immersed fully as a participant with only a slight departure as I viewed the exercises and dynamics from the perspective of a therapist/facilitator myself. I cut myself some slack there, acknowledging that it is an occupational hazard. In other words, I took off my professional hat and just allowed for whatever arose for me.
As the day progressed, I found myself increasingly willing to shed my own figurative skin that I had grown over the years that I thought defined me. One exercise that was blow me out of the water amazing, elegant and thorough is called Circle of Mirrors created by Eugene. The group sat on the floor in a circle and one by one (and totally by choice) we were invited to step into the center and walk around the space sharing about an issue we had brought with us to the workshop. What followed me there was a persistant drive to DO all the time, scrambling to accomplish, Type A, what I jokingly call being ‘functionally manic’ with an inability it seemed, to put the brakes on for very long. As I started the process, I brought to mind two images that had arisen in a previous exercises. The first was one that has been with me since childhood that I referred to as ‘Little Shirley Temple: Everybody’s Sweetheart’ who would tap dance to please, entertain and ‘be loved best of all’. As she was dancing, she also was diagnosed with asthma and foot issues that required treatment for the first and clunky red orthopedic shoes (hard to tap dance in them and not very graceful). On top of that, she was a really smart and inquisitive child who would read incessantly and ask copious questions. She felt different from most of her peers as a result. With that in mind, she became hyper competitive with herself and filled her life (even back then) with tons of activities….swim team, Hebrew School, Girl Scouts, volunteering, friends… sounds like prep for the life I live now. Add to that another persona that I call “Zen Goddess” who is here to heal the world, beam love and light and be totally calm in the face of chaos, serene at all times. This exercise resembles psychodrama as people were invited to step in as these various roles. One of the men became Shirley….dancing and singing On The Good Ship Lollipop. A woman took on the role of the one who felt bogged down with the physical challenges, someone else was my busy-buzzy on the go role and still another sat in the center, in half lotus, hands in mudra position, eyes closed, chanting oo0o0o0o0o0ommmm. Watching all of this going on at once, my various components doing their thang; singing, dancing, slogging, holding her brainiac head, zooming around, being all spiritual and whatnot, my tears turned into laughter as I recognized what I had done to myself all in supposed service to the entrenched belief that it was necessary to hold on to the love that I experienced as a child. At the end of the experience I thanked the first person/persona for teaching me how to be center stage with confidence, the second for helping to ground me and challenge me, the third to invite me to learn alot and drink in the world, never bored, the zoomer to help me juggle an active schedule, multi task and achieve and the final for assisting me in my spiritual journey. I referred to this merging of the various aspects of myself as “Divine Guidance”. At the moment, I am in re-entry and integrative mode, allowing for new revelations to arise. Although I have shed skin, I don’t feel raw as I had inticipated as if I was sunburned. Instead, I am glowing pleasantly. Grateful beyond words to Monique and Eugene, as well as my fellow travelers; my beautiful mirrors who held me in love and respect that came un-earned, like grace itself.