Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kinesiology exam

Mind numb from a second day of kinesiology cramming. 11 hours in all today. Boring, meaningless learning of random names of body that only need names if you're a surgeon...and motions, bullshit names of motions. Dude, can we not just have a simple language, and clarify if necessary? That's clearly not the idea from the western medical paradigm. The more complicated, the better. The more power-over paradigm there is, the more money that can be made from the clueless little peons.

God, I just want to bring rest and peace and healing to people! Is it really necessary to learn all this utter bullshit in order to do that? Just to prove I don't want to give happy ending massages in a dimly lit room? Jeez...

At least I'm done with 2 of 3 exams for this stupid kinesiology class. Now, on to sleeping, and Day of the Dead Brunch, tomorrow!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Meaningless studying

Tonight, instead of diving into writing here about something inspiring or heartfelt, I am sitting in my bed, studying meaningless drivel for my kinesiology class. And tomorrow, instead of finding someplace to romp about with festivity, I will likely be doing the same. Now, it is totally my own choosing to have waited so long to do this reading, and to take this online exam. But the amount of sheer garbage that this book is filled with really does blow my mind. It is redundant. It is wordy beyond anything I have ever encountered...even beyond myself! Haha! And it is meaningless learning. The kind of mandatory bullshit that makes my blood boil. And to think, all this information gathering and regurgitation is necessary only so that massage can be considered a legitimate field within the medical community. So that it won't be viewed as a step above prostitution. So that it will be taken seriously. Good god...what we do in this culture in order to make things "important." At least a hooker has some passion boiling in there!! With this approach to learning massage, I am spending more time learning bullshit words than learning how to read a body with my hands. That makes no sense.

Okay, rant simmering down...

I must go back to my studying now. Only another hundred pages or so of this garbage to go before I can take the online multiple choice test! Ooh, my belly is all full of butterflies with joyful anticipation...ha! Wow, it's been a long time since sarcasm came so naturally to me. ; )

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Tonight when I arrived home, I decided to follow the suggestion of a yoga teacher friend of mine, and spend twenty minutes in a supported chest opener pose, and wow! I feel really calm and centered right now. I reclined on the floor, with my back arching over a rolled blanket, and my head fell back onto a pillow, and my arms open at 2/10 o'clock. I brought my feet together, and let my knees fall open, also resting each one on a pillow. There I remained for twenty minutes, listening to this beautiful music, "Devi Prayer" by Craig Pruess and Ananda. My body struggled to really let go, but moments washed over me when I was not merely lying there on the floor, but deliberately surrendering myself to the ground beneath me.

My nervous system slowly began to release, and I could feel the way that my body and mind are still in a state of emergency. While most of this state of being extends from the trauma of being with Familiar kitty as he passed, I believe that it goes beyond that immediate situation. The speed with which we live our lives in this part of the world is its own trauma state, and the anxiety about this, then the next thing...our nervous systems are all spun up into a state of madness. Fear of keeping our lifestyles, fear of making enough money, fear of maintaining our jobs, fear of not being successful, fear of the economy crashing, fear of the swine just goes on and on. And while most of these things don't come up in my life on a regular basis, I am certainly at the energetic mercy of a culture that I swim within...until I consciously work with that to shift things within myself.

As I reclined on my yoga mat, being held by soft pillows and covered by a warm blanket, I heard my mind grasping, reaching, essence, protecting me, trying to make sure things are safe. And there is a voice in my head that believes that even here, in my home of nearly eight years, in this sweet neighborhood, and on this quiet night, I might be in some danger. Okay, it is not likely! Another voice in my head knows that and tries to dismiss this one. But there the other one remains, in constant duty as a sentinel. A plane could crash into the house! Or someone could break in! Or a fire! Or or or or or orororororor...on and on and on. And once my rational mind has dismissed all of those possibilities, worse ones arise... Ones that sound insane. Energetic violations and dangers. What if the ghost of Familiar kitty comes to do yoga with me, as he always used to do? Or what if there are other energies there, just waiting for me to relax and surrender, to then feast upon my unguarded being? And then, worst of all...the danger isn't external, it isn't even external is my own body! My own body is the threat to my safety! It's not a robber or a ghost that will bring me is my own cells, my own body will destroy itself! Sigh...I can't live like this.

It's a good thing I already know that I am not my mind. =)

In ceremony a long time ago I became aware that I didn't know how to relax. Gradually, I have been coming into a place inside of myself that can soften into life, whether things are easy or difficult, fast or slow, peaceful or tumultuous. But this loss of my kitty has thrown all of that off. What a gift this is, showing me how I have not yet really mastered this process of relaxing. Heehee. It is a gift, for sure. The truth of groundlessness has been revealed to me in the most undeniable way. I spend time every day in a place of knowing that death is sitting right beside of me. That everything that I create will be destroyed. That everyone and everything that I know and love will die, and life will go on living itself alive. I am powerless to do anything about that. And sitting with that as my companion each day has not been is a hell of a teacher, that is for sure!

What I am coming to understand is hard to articulate right now. It is connected to the esoteric teachings of so many wise beings. About life and death and spiritual practice. About surrendering everything into the fire of love. About dropping the ego. About...hmm...well, the point behind everything. I can't give it words yet, because I know I am still lost in the fog. But what I can see is that every idea that I ever had about life and death and spirituality were much more intellectual just a few weeks ago. Even Madre Ayahuasca couldn't give me this teaching. I am beginning to understand why they have always said that wisdom comes through life experience. No esoteric teaching, no book, no philosophy could have ever really brought me into facing life and death like this. Not even close.

As I was there on the floor, working to relax and surrender, the thought crossed my mind, why would I be afraid if the ghost of Familiar kitty did come to do yoga with me? Why would I automatically fear any energetic presence that might come into my space? Just like Javier would have guided me to do, I turned the automatic fear response around. I relaxed into the idea of both, accepting their possibilities, but also looking into them directly. Turn around and face the monster that is chasing you...right? As I put my attention upon this, a lightness filled my body, and I felt like I was floating. I let my breathing settle and felt the energy move within me in the most gentle, yet radiant way. The music, totally sublime, carried me through this inner space, drifting in the lightness. And I began to relax.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gratitude for my Tribe

What a blessing of an evening tonight was. My dear friend and soul sister Liz came over, and we shared a wonderful dinner of split pea soup and bread, followed by berry pie and white jasmine tea, and again followed by porch sitting with the night and some sacred tobacco. My whole evening became this beautiful gift of sisterhood, and of juicy conversation that has left me feeling nourished and loved. I am grateful to the whole universe for Liz, and her soulful place in my life.

I am forever more and more grateful for the people who have come into my life in the last couple of years. I have always had good friends and people to spend my time with. And I have always been blessed in some way by those friendships. But the kind of people in my life now are people who I can be fully myself with. People who also choose to show up and be fully who they are, too. I love the way a pot of split pea soup is all that is needed for bringing us together. No night of drinking and feeling like shit the next day. No expensive dinners at fancy restaurants. No shopping extravaganzas for shoes and electronics. And the quality of what emerges, too, is different. I don't spend my time in conversation complaining, judging, belittling, and talking about nonsense. In the past, all of these things were the fodder of my regular conversations. And it's no wonder I never felt fulfilled by them in a deeper way. But now, these sweet and meaningful connections really do nourish me. I am so grateful to be able to show up and be exactly as I am in the moment. No judgement. No one convincing me to get over it, or drop it, or just drink a little and relax. Nope, the sweet people in my life hold space for me to be real in each moment. And I am hoping that I offer them the same.

It was just three years ago right about now when my life crashed pretty hard. After ending an important love relationship, I had gone to Paris for a few weeks. Upon returning, my best girlfriend decided that she needed a break from our friendship. I felt abandoned in a time of great sorrow, and confused by the way that my life had seemingly fallen into a heap in front of me. The next group of people who I became friends with were all wonderful people, but they were heavy drinkers. The only thing we ever did together was drink. I was the hippie, the artist chick, the lightweight. And I met my next boyfriend through them. It turned out that he was an alcoholic with some serious issues. When I walked away from that relationship, I walked away from that whole group of people, too.

Through my entire time here in Oella, though - nearly eight years now - the people who have always come back into my life were those who felt like my soul family. Ali and Forrest, Lynn and Ros. Leslie became a part of that, too. And now, the whole Oella tribe has grown tremendously to include a sweet group of people who have joined in our Wisdom Circle. In these last six years, my soul family has become the heart of this community, and I love them more every day. Too, when I came to Oella, I had a lot of conflict with my family of origin. Now, not only do I have a soul family, but I have been lucky to heal my relationship with my birth family, too. The circle grows ever wider.

So, tonight as I move toward sleep, I offer a prayer of gratitude. For all the blessed beings who have graced my life and gone, who have taught me about loving and connecting in all the ways that I have come to know. And to those blessed beings who have taught me what it is like to experience interdependence, acceptance, and gracious support as life delivers each next thing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Layers of Mind and Feeling

I just made the difficult decision to extract my laptop from underneath Friday kitty's adorable position...he was so adorable as he sat there, covering most of the machine, as if saying " did want your laptop, right? Well here I am!" Haha! And now, he is positioned partially on my other leg, under the comforter, purring wildly, but still begging with his eyes for my hands to abandon their foolishness and come to him. What a wonderful companion he is!

I am feeling an interesting combination of things right now. Not all are in agreement, either, but they are merely existing side by side within me, and I am making some effort to notice each one. The most noticeable feeling is one of joy and elation. I am feeling empowered, centered in my truth, and clear about my vision for the future, and how I can contribute to that. I am no longer lingering in a place of despair and powerlessness about my country and my culture...I feel that I do have some power to make choices and connect with people to create change, even if it is in small ways. I am grateful for my community and the sense of belonging I feel within it.

I am also feeling a sense of hopelessness, connected to the lingering presence of death's touch in my life. This part of me wonders what the point is anyway, why I should bother to try to make any change at all when in the end each of us will die to this world, pass on, and life will continue as before. And this gives me a sense of deep dread, of low grade fear. It makes it hard to enjoy any of life's gifts when haunted by this darkness. I am also grateful that in this moment, this isn't the most present part of my experience.

Another part of what I have been feeling is anger and outrage. There is a part of me that is not feeling enlightened and tolerant at all. That wants to lash out and judge harshly instead of choosing love and understanding. This part feels very much embodied in its responses, but very much mind-based overall. It is a part that is powerful, but in a power-over sense, not power-with. I let it run rampant for a while yesterday while writing in my journal, and wow, it had some serious harshness to fling about. But in the desire to honor and listen beyond the anger and harshness, I gave it space to offer its words.

One more feeling that I want to acknowledge is a lack of trust. Paranoia. The conspiracy-theory type of that only dances through the back of my mind now and then. This has been triggered several times as I have seen articles about the swine flu right now. In fact, two of my students are out sick this week with the swine flu. Apparently it targets teenagers...which makes no sense to me at all. So, my mind is off and running. I have read so much about vaccines for this illness, and how harmful and dangerous they are. I have so little faith in the western medical system - which seems to be mostly about business and making money - and it seems totally possible that this whole thing could be a manufactured illness...just another ploy to make money for the pharmaceutical companies, and to deliver even more fear to hundreds of thousands of people, making them more dependent than ever upon pharmaceuticals and vaccines and the like, to give them safety and security. Gah!!!

It is sad to me that it crosses my mind that our government would manufacture an illness and then spread it in hope of feeding much more money into the drug companies. Or even website suggested that the governments of the world have manufactured this illness together in order to control the population. While I don't tend to give my mind too much freedom to drown in poisonous ideas like these, it has crossed my mind several times. Especially regarding the plans in line for potential mandatory vaccination if the virus becomes a pandemic of a certain level. It seems to me to be absolutely unacceptable that the government would be given control over people's bodies in such a is no different than rape, to me! And not only that, with so many reports of this vaccine for the swine flu being "pushed through" without adequate testing, and filled with chemicals that are potentially very hazardous...every red flag I have is raised. I have never felt clearer that I want NO part of this vaccine...

Phew...okay now...calming down...

What I am noticing behind the specificity of each of these feelings is a pattern. I experience joy when I am focused on the possibilities and creating life as I want to experience it. And I experience fear and anger and hopelessness when I focus on the problems and the ways that life controls me, and leaves me powerless to participate. And I believe in my heart of hearts that the former is the way that I want to live my life. I may not be able to change the world, or the country, or the government, or the culture, or any other human being. But I can change myself. I can do the work I need to do within myself. And I can plant my garden all around, seeing what things emerge as I continue to water them, creating the life I want to live. Power with. Yes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Change

Things are changing at the speed of light. I am feeling that in spite of my choices in the last months of moving into living more simply and slowly, the world is changing more and more around me. And right now, all I have is surrender. Surrender to the flow that knows its path, even when I don't.

Lynn sold her house today. I can't believe it. Not having her living across the street from me is the worst idea in the world. I love her beyond words, and I want nothing more than to have her living across the street from me for the rest of my life. And the truth is that she sold her house today, and will probably be moving within a month. Unbelievable. And in spite of the devastation of that news, there is something in me that is in the flow, that can accept it and move with it.

Alan, my friend and catsitter, moved in with her a year ago, renting the lower level of her house. And as soon as he told me that Lynn sold the house, a flash ran through my body. I knew that I needed to offer him the possibility of being my roommate. I didn't say so right away, I waited until he was coming by for dinner tonight. I sat with the idea briefly, and said, "do I really want to do that? Can I give up my meditation room? Am I really ready to share my space, which has been mine alone for nearly eight years?" And the flash that had moved through made no uncertainty in its wake. I knew that the answer was yes. Not only would it help me financially, it would help Alan to stay in this community. And he is so connected to Friday kitty, it seems like a perfect match.

I have been remotely contemplating a roommate for a while now. My apartment isn't ideal for a roommate, and I knew that it would have to be the right person. The space is small, and my needs regarding peace and cleanliness and green living are clear. I knew that I couldn't just live with some random roommate, but someone who was in the same mind as me regarding lifestyle. And surely, if Alan decides to accept, it will take some getting used to. Some negotiating our individual needs for harmonious cohabitation. But the clarity I feel about it is astounding. This is the thing that I needed to offer now. If I want to live in community, I may as well start at home, right?

I feel like I am standing in the calm center of a hurricane right now. Familiar passed, Lynn sold her house, change is swirling all around. But I know in my heart that all will be just as it should. It is my responsibility to show up with full presence as the waves swell, and now that I am feeling more like myself - more centered, less fearful - that is much more possible. Once more, the prayer of St. Francis comes to mind - "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace." Yes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oella Fall Potluck

I'm feeling very sleepy, and glad to be tucked under the comforter right now. Today has been a wonderful day of sunshine and connecting to beautiful people. It has also been a day of surprises, and confusions. I feel like I have fewer answers than ever about some things. But in the same breath, I feel like I have greater clarity about some of those very same things. And I am grateful that I enjoy the juxtaposition.

It is a challenge to type much right now, after a somewhat nasty fall today. I woke up this morning feeling very clear that I needed to walk to Main Street and spend some time writing on paper about things that I wasn't feeling inclined to bring to this blog, and as I made my way down the street, my dear neighbor Lynn and her boyfriend Skip drove up. We stopped our ways to chat, and then moved to a driveway to continue the chatting as another car came by to pass. As we parted ways, and they drove uphill, I turned to walk downhill, and BOOM! Out of nowhere, I was falling to the ground. I landed on my left wrist first, and the scrape is deep and painful. My knees were both scraped, too, through my pants. I rolled over to check out the damage and was grateful that my favorite linen pants hadn't been torn in the fall. But my left hand was looking pretty nasty. As the day continued, the wrist began to feel bruised and swollen, and has become hard to move. I am sure that with rest it will be fine in a few days. But for now, it does limit some things that I need to do - tomorrow's teaching artist work won't happen, and massaging on Tuesday, too, will need to be rearranged.

I had a most incredible night at the Oella Community potluck last night. These community gatherings always bring together amazing folks, both new and seasoned, and my soul is filled to the brim with joy and goodness. It's funny, last weekend I spent time dancing, and found that I had confronted some major fears about dancing. And last night, in addition to playing drums and rattles and flute, I found myself deeply called to spite of my fear about singing. It seems to me that these fears that I have held are disintegrating right in front of me. I didn't do anything to get over my fears of dancing - I just decided to dance. I didn't do anything to get over my fear of singing - I just followed the spark in my heart to sing. And I wonder, is it really that easy all the time? Is it my own thinking and tightness that get in the way of letting go of every fear that I have?

There have been so many things shifting within me in the last month. From having had the realization that I am no longer the isolated, introverted loner that I used to be, to letting go of these recent fears about dancing and seems that many of the fears that I have had about the ways that other people think of me/judge me/receive me have been largely washed away. And what I am feeling now is that there is this great freedom to just be who I am, to follow whatever passions I have, to love myself and others for who they are, and to know that the only true limitations within my life are of my own creation. It's funny...back in Peru this summer, I felt too shy to freely sing out in ceremony...and last night, I sang out joyfully without fear, by choice!

But there was a shadow of darkness in the atmosphere for me last night. An old fear came to visit as a messenger. The fear of being fully alive and expressing myself authentically and joyfully...the fear believes that if I am like this, then I will be "too much" for other to take, and that I need to temper my own expression, my own joy, my own full personality in order to be accepted. And now, I don't buy it for a minute - there was no part of me that was going to go back into suppression, into hiding, into restraining the fullness of who I am. NO WAY!! But there was a shadow of doubt that maybe I was right in some ways in that old story - that maybe there are some people who just can't handle my intensity...or perhaps some people are still in hiding too, keeping the fullness of themselves deeply buried within, barely allowing the jewel of their beings to shine brightly. And while I can empathize with that, and have been there, I see the truth of my own growth - I am not there anymore. I am so lucky to have felt genuine acceptance from my community, to know that I am loved and embraced for who I am, without reservation. And I am also deeply lucky to have found this within myself too, no longer beating myself up and wishing I was different in this way or that way. Nope, I feel like I am finally able to start understanding what it means to accept what is. And it's not like I imagined at all. It's way better, in fact. =)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October Rain

The afternoon is unseasonably warm, and the humidity is thick. What began the day as scattered light showers has now turned into a steady rain, becoming heavy at times. This is the end of summer lingering into the mid-Fall, and it is glorious. The sound of rain on the leaves is one of the most soothing sounds I have ever known. Oh, this is a spectacular late afternoon!

The cones on the Magnolia are still fuzzy and soft, and glowing a deep crimson in the wetness. The other day as I went to visit Familiar kitty's grave, I was captivated by Magnolia, her stunning changeless leaves, dark brown and shiny. And her sweet, soft cones have begun to change. It seems as if they are developing eyes that are just beginning to open, and those eyes are the gateway to her seeds, bright red and shiny. As I explored her with curiosity, I pulled one, then another, then another of these red seeds out of their casing. Amazing! They pulled away, releasing a string of white, much like a sticky spider web. I offered these three seeds to the still-festive gravesite beneath her graceful watch. I also offered her my gratitude for her stunning presence, and for her ever-present sentinel over my sweet kitty.

The rain has become heavier in the few moments I have been sitting here on the porch, and there are so many sweet scents in the air. Earlier in the afternoon, I could smell the sweet Pine tree in my neighbor Lynn's yard - Thomas, we call him - his fragrance was extending more than thirty feet in the thick afternoon humidity! What a delight! Now, I smell the distinctive fragrances of human cooking - my own, "morning glory" bread for tonight's potluck - and something savory being cooked by a neighbor. Mmm... Also, the smell of the damp earth permeates beyond these powerful smells of food...and a faint, curious scent of some kind of flower... I wonder if it is an essential oil calling out to me from upstairs. I love it when they do that.

Now, the rain is really falling heavily! This is the most wonderful thing in the world, spending time sitting present with the splendor of the Earth, her weather like my own feelings that are in a state of eternal shifting and changing. It's funny, I had several things in mind to write about this afternoon, but in this moment, the rain falling all around is the only thing that I can remember.

What I have been noticing in the last couple of days is that my heartache and stuckness are shifting, as the rain. I sure do miss my little kitty, and in many ways I still can't believe that I will never be able to touch his sweet body again, or hear his plaintive cries, or be annoyed by him trying every possible way of getting in whatever food was around. I miss rubbing his little chin...that was his favorite. And I miss the way that he would come and settle on my pillow, sometimes almost like a tight little hat around the top of my head. I miss the little narrow hourglass white spot that ran down the bridge of his nose. I miss his faint purr that was so soft it was almost a secret between us. I miss the little pink pads on his feet, and the little black spots on some of them. I miss the way he would boldly walk across my body, on my keyboard, between my book and my face, the way he would step on me in the most awkward and uncomfortable ways, as if demanding my attention. And every time I find little holes or threads in the left leg of my pants, I know that he will always be with me...right there, climbing my leg, begging for Indian food. And I am grateful that in this moment I can write about him, and am not filled with desperate sadness. In fact, my heart is swelling with these memories, and of the love that I have for that little fuzzy being. God, I love him. And I will love him forever. That's the beauty about love, it just keeps on flowing beyond living and dying, beyond coming together and falling away, beyond joy and pain...when the pathway of the heart is open, love just keeps on giving birth to itself in every moment.

Once more, I am connecting to the epiphany I had about love the other day...that I can take that energetic tendril of love connection that used to connect me to Familiar kitty, and I can bring it into my own body. I can allow that love to flow through me now, and somehow, that makes the pain of loss a little less acute.

The rain has given way to a light drizzle once more, and as the afternoon light fades, the green-yellow glow of the trees seems to be carrying the light of the sun, who is far from sight today. Their glow is intensified as the light of day fades into darkness, and I am grateful to have spent this time here once more, connecting inward through connecting to the Earth.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Listening beneath the Maple

I awoke this morning at 6am because I had accepted a sub teaching job today...cold and dark, the sun hadn't even given a hint of light yet. I only slept for about six hours last night, and that's definitely not enough for me. But I spent some time lying there in bed, loving my little Friday companion, who was purring and looking at me askance, as if wondering "why are you awake before the sun?" Just as I arrived at the school, the sun was beginning to illuminate the sky, and tendrils of deep rose were glowing in the distance. Another beautiful morning, and another blessing of witnessing the sun shedding light upon the day.

Italian. I don't know much, and can't be of much help here. As usual, the kids are thrilled that there's a sub, and on a Friday. And I totally understand their joy, that the last day of the week might be a little more chill than usual. Fortunately, I'm the kind of sub who knows that, and I don't have anything to prove here. Especially after last weekend's workshop on using NVC in the classroom, I am keeping a mantra - my purpose here is to connect. I am only here a brief time, and am not able to actually manage much in the teaching realm. But I can offer a smile, some kindness, compassion and connection as I cross their paths today. And I have been feeling really good with that. I'm not here to lay down the law, to have my ego fed with power, or to make demands upon anyone. Who knows, maybe these moments of authentic connection, when they occur, will actually touch someone today. As a friend said recently, my employer is God.

It has been a pretty easy schedule today. I had the first period off, and again for fourth period. Fourth period is a long block of two hours, and while I have lots of books with me, I decided that a walk would feel good. To get away from this artificial environment and fluorescent lighting. To breathe the cool fall air, and connect to myself and the day through the rhythm of footsteps. And it was wonderful. I thought it would be good to walk for half an hour in each direction, and set out. Then, I found a beautiful maple leaf on the sidewalk. I bent and picked it was just barely blushing from yellow to rose. I walked on, with it in my hand. Then, in front of me, I walked into maple tree heaven! There were small maple trees on both sides of the street, blushing to their full glory! My mind considered pushing onward with my walk, following the plan, but I just couldn't! I mean, how could I pass those trees without stopping?

I stood beneath one of them. The reddest leaves were on the outside of her canopy, and more inward, the leaves were a creamy lemon yellow. Standing beneath her, I was pulled into a different world. As I faced in, I was covered in yellow softness. As I faced out, I was embraced in the warm orange and red glow. I sat down, facing the trunk of the maple tree, and sat quietly. I began to breathe and meditate, bringing my mind back to the present. Listening: the faint rustle of leaves was usually overshadowed by the cars coming and going along the two lane road just behind me. But even listening to the cars, coming from each direction, was soothing and simple. Then, I shifted my attention to feeling: the wind on my arms, my face, in my hair. The coolness of the damp earth beneath me. And I began to tune into my body.

I began to feel the wholeness of my heartache. The embodied experience of heartache that doesn't require me to have any thoughts about the passing of Familiar kitty, or of living and dying. I tuned into this bodily experience, and explored it with the same curiosity and openness that I experienced externally just moments before. I turned my attention to listening within that feeling. And what I felt arise was the desire to just sit with these sensations as they arise. "What you resist persists" was a central idea that came to me time and time again in Peru. And this morning, as I sat beneath the blushing maple, I heard my body asking for this teaching to be taken in more deeply. To not resist what is coming up within me, but to sit with each sensation, to hold space for each one to arise and pass. And I practiced this for some time.

My body asked me to move, to stretch. I began to stretch my neck and head, then my shoulders. Then, I realized that I was deeply craving some of the simple warmups from Kundalini yoga. There was a small voice inside of me that said, "but you're sitting along the road, next to a shopping center, and down the street from McDonalds...really, yoga here?" And I said to myself, "absolutely!" So, I began to rotate my body from the waist, slowly moving into the space that I inhabit. I began to rotate from my chest, next, and then moved through some spinal flexes. I finished with some slow, simple stretches to the side and forward, and some twists. My body felt so wonderful! What a blessing it was to take this walk to this beautiful tree, and then to spend some time listening within and honoring my body's needs. I walked back to the school, feeling serene and content.

Here I sit, now, waiting for the next class to begin. Reading "Peaceable Revolution Through Education" and observing all the ways that this school, like most others, does not meet many of the basic needs of human beings. I'm trying not to feel frustrated by the lack of windows in any of the classrooms, or the teacher workroom, where I've spent much time today. I wonder, how did we get here, to creating education space that is so sterile and dehumanizing...but that is a conversation for another day and another time. r

Thursday, October 22, 2009


It is late, and I had considered not writing at all tonight, but I simply must take a small amount of time right now to honor and reveal an epiphany I had today. It was an epiphany about love.

I went down to Familiar kitty's grave. I took two stones, and a little message from my herbal said something about allowing my inner light to become one with the universal light, and that felt right for my little one. Also, I have been offering a kintu each time I visit...using three bay leaves in lieu of coca. But also, today I decided to offer flowers in a new way. A friend and neighbor brought me some tulip bulbs a week or so ago, and I hadn't been sure where to plant them for spring. Now, they will come up in a semicircle around Familiar kitty's grave. Beautiful! My little kitty usually did have his nose in flowers whenever I had some in a vase, without fail. What a joy that will be in early spring.

And maybe my epiphany stems from that. What is now a sad place that is a memorial to my little beloved one who is no longer walking the Earth with me will become transformed into a splash of color, yellow and red, in six months' time. And hopefully those flowers will come back year after year, long after I am gone from this house perhaps. And then, people may have no idea that my little love was offered back to Mother Earth on that spot. What they will know, though, is the beauty and joy of bright flowers after a long winter.

My epiphany was this simple shift that came while I was at his grave. The words came through me, and I heard them and thought them for the first time as I spoke them. Instead of feeling the loss...this tendril of love energy that is used to connecting with that little being has no place to connect now...what a beautiful thing it would be to allow that love to live through me. No longer directed at my kitty, I can choose to redirect that love energy through me, and the power of that love will extend beyond that one profound relationship. I can allow all the love I ever had for my Familiar kitty, and all the love that I ever received from him, to flow through me, to fuel me in all the love that I still carry with me as I walk upon this Earth. It was as if I took that severed tendril of love that has been aching so deeply, and swallowed it, taking its light into my body. And with this epiphany today, I felt something profound shift within me. An openness, a space, a freedom, a deep inner radiance that feels so familiar to me.

In those moments as I offered these gifts and words to my kitty's grave, I knew that the worst of this is past. My sorrow will continue to flow for as long as it flows. I welcome it freely. As I have said before, whoever is worth loving is worth mourning. But I now feel like I can begin to move back into the flow of my life again, carrying a brighter love than before.

Tonight, too, one of my neighbors brought me a children's book to read, called something like "Desser the Best Cat Ever." A sweet and moving story of a little girl and her little kitty love, a black and white kitty much like my own. I read it when I saw it on the arm of my sofa tonight when I returned home. I cried and cried, such a beautiful book that expresses the profound love of sharing life with a beloved animal companion. Thank you Bill and Acadia for thinking of me and sharing this book. I think I might need to find my own copy in honor of "Familiar, the Best Cat Ever."

And for now, it is time to sleep. Friday, the Best Cat Ever is purring and snuggling close to me. His sweet head is resting on my wrist even now as I type, and he is truly irresistible. His head begs me to leave behind this keyboard and love him through touch. Sounds pretty good to me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two weeks

How long has it been since I sat on this porch to write? Two weeks, I believe. Today marks two weeks since Familiar kitty passed. And even this afternoon, as I returned from DC, I found myself opening the front door with some expectation of a little black kitty meeting me anxiously. And today, being a beautiful warm day, I imagine that he would have met me at the window, actually. He loved to squeeze himself onto the tiny four inch ledge that is available as a perch when the window is open, and he would hear me coming home, and cry out as I walked up the sidewalk to the front door. I also imagined the way that he would lightly rub his body against my legs as I would come in, begging for food, for attention. And so many days, especially the days this year since I returned from Peru, he would meet me eagerly, sitting someplace funny. On the arm of the sofa - the closest point to the front door other than the floor. On the coffee table - he loved the new purple woven tapestry that I brought home from Peru. On the kitchen table, or on the stove, or on the kitchen counters - probably waiting there after scrounging about in the sink for something good. Oh, my little sweet buddy, I miss you so much.

But I am adjusting. I am no longer feeling like my house is empty. It is still and quieter than ever, for sure. But I am letting go. Some things come to mind that are easier now. I don't have to clean up the pee in the shower anymore...Familiar kitty sure did love to pee in there. And all this time I thought Friday was the one peeing on the bathroom rugs...I was wrong. It was Familiar all the time...but he surely didn't want me to catch him. I remember a couple weeks before he got ill, I noticed that the rug behind the sofa was wet with urine, and once again, figured that it was Friday. Then, a few days later, I found Familiar kitty peeing there, and I reprimanded him, wondering what the deal was. Now, I have some sense of it. Something was going wrong in his body, and whatever it was, peeing on the floor was part of it. Oh, it makes me so sad to think that he is gone. From where I sit on my porch, I can see the decorations on his grave, colorful and varied.

Porch sitting without him is strange, too. I have a plate that once held a slice of toast and some broccoli...and there is no kitty to lick it clean. Friday doesn't have any interest at all. Now, he does have some strange interest in eating the dried spearmint leaves that are out here on the porch...that seems odd, but hey, if it makes him happy, spearmint is almost like catnip, right!

Today is really warm, and the sun is bright in the blue cloudless sky. There are tiny insects floating around, flying in patterns that seem utterly random, and the golden light illuminates them, turning the sky into a wonderland of twirling sparkles. The trees in my yard are holding tightly to their leaves, which are just barely turning yellow right is a stunning Fall day. Friday kitty was reluctant to make his way downstairs with me, but once I carried him down, he got the idea: porch sitting time on a sunny afternoon! And now, he is resting in a sunny spot, loving it. Oh, my little Friday love...I don't know what I would do without him right now!

The golden illuminated insects have multiplied, and are even more plentiful than just a moment ago! They are dancing in the air, more random than snow, but light as milkweed blowing in the gentle breeze. A yellow jacket keeps invading my space, trying to enjoy the last bit of apple cider in my glass. Drunk on its sweetness, he keeps swooping a little too close for comfort. There won't be too many more glorious warm days like this before the weather turns cold. I am grateful to have the time today to sit here on the porch and be present. The cones on the Magnolia are reddening more now, such a contrast against her shiny, dark green leaves. Beneath her is the grave of my little Familiar kitty. Sweet tree, watching over the final resting place of my little kitty love.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dream of Betrayal

Cloudy morning. Still. A few birds are singing, but not full-on singing of bright spring days, this is a singing of economy. Past the birds, I hear sounds of traffic in the distance...which I don't normally hear from home. Now, a second kind of bird is joining the conversation, and the singing is more lively, if not ecstatic. A third enters, and the symphony of morning is beginning to blossom. As I sit here writing, a loud purr penetrates, and my sweet kitty companion has begun to lick my hand while I type. He is such a being of love, and his affection and sweetness have been a balm to my heart in these last couple of weeks. I truly don't know what I would do without him right now.

Last night, I was awakened sharply by a dream. What I remember is somewhat disjointed, but a few images are clear, and the feelings are penetrating even now. I dreamed that I had observed behavior between these two people that concerned me greatly. These two people were a part of our larger community, and seeing this, I wanted to help. I can't remember now exactly what it was that the man was doing to the woman, but it seemed to be causing her harm. Not feeling safe to confront them alone, I went to some of the others in the group to talk about what I had seen. Instead of receiving the concern and support that I had imagined would come from sharing this, and instead of enlisting help to confront the two people, my words were received in silence. This didn't concern me right away, but I began to feel the silence as a space between me and my concern, and something else that was going on around me. I made the decision not to take it personally, but I began to feel an impending sense of danger. Soon, those I had spoken to about this issue had shared my observation with the rest of the community, and they began to come after me, with no explanation. It became clear that I had seen something that I was not supposed to see, and everyone else knew about it, and now they must destroy me. I fled the building, and went outside. On one side of the building was a river that I could not easily cross, on the other side was a road, and the two people I had observed. The rest of the community began to come at me, almost like zombies, and they came from all sides of the building, even the roof. Just before I awoke, I began screaming and trying to find a route for escape, but felt none was possible.

This dream was intense. I felt deep betrayal by the community in which I was living. I felt like they had been hiding something from me, and maybe the same thing had happened to the other woman who had been harmed by the man - the very thing I had observed. When I probe deeper into the dream, I have a lot of questions. I'm having a hard time diving into the depth of them right now, but the feeling of betrayal, followed by the feeling of deep fear linger in me still.

I have felt plenty of fear in my life recently. Fear about living and dying, about the truth that eventually my body will fail. Fear about going through this intense process of love and loss over and over again in my life. Fear of not knowing when either of these things will grace my life. Is the fear in the dream the same as these? sure was a fear related to living and dying. But the betrayal...was that related to this? Maybe the betrayal I felt wasn't from the community in a literal sense, but feeling betrayed by the continuity of livingness all around me that will one day cease. Living flows onward, it is only the forms that life takes that cease. And yet, the forms of livingness sure do seem to be the essence of life to me most days. I have read enough esoteric spiritual texts to have an intellectual understanding of this, but to learn it in my heart, and in my body...I'm not there yet.

I am struck by the feeling of wanting to escape, and having no place to escape into that would be impervious to their chase. Behind me in the dream was a forest. To my left, a river, and a forest on the other side. These were my only possibilities of hiding, but it seemed hopeless to even try, because their numbers were great, and my own survival and hiding skills were not strong. This feeling that I am coming in touch with is familiar to me, for sure. The feeling of being backed into a corner, and having no way out. In this moment, I don't feel the need to analyze it any further, just to hold it and sit with it. Perhaps during this day, these things will be clearer, and will bring me some understanding.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I am home again, back in my own house, sitting in my own bed, beneath the warm blankets. The night is cold and quiet, and I am joyous to have a sweet golden kitty on my knee. He purrs on and on, completely content with this moment. I am completely content with this moment, too.

So much is changing in my life. I had dinner with a friend tonight, and through our conversation, I began to realize some deeper shifting that is happening. I reflected back to 9/11, perhaps the first time in my life that I had ever been called to think of my life in terms of living and dying, and what I wanted for my life. At that time, I was teaching flute lessons at a music store in Ellicott City, more than forty students, and five days a week. I was living in a small apartment complex that was okay, but not great. I didn't connect with people there, I didn't know my neighbors. I spent a lot of time commuting. And at the time 9/11 happened, I was also subbing for a friend of mine who had just had a baby, and needed a teacher for her beginning instrumental music classes. I was all over the place, I was working nonstop, and my life didn't feel rich. 9/11 struck me in the gut, with so much sorrow and so much fear surrounding me. It was right around then when I turned off the TV, turned off the radio, and walked away from most print media, too. Something inside of me was calling for another way of living, one that felt more meaningful. And a few months later, I moved to Oella.

In the years since I came to Oella, so much big change has happened in my life! I became interwoven into an amazing community, both in my neighborhood, and on Main Street. I began working in music totally as a freelancer, with a music studio in my house. I began to travel the world, and began my spiritual path for real. I started to write, and went to Goddard for my master's degree program. I broke away from my family of origin, and have now healed the old wounds there. I have redefined pretty much every part of my life, cleaned out the old cobwebs, and claimed it for what is truly in my heart. All of this came from my willingness to feel the deep question that came from the events surrounding 9/11: if I were to die in a year, what would I want to be different?

And now, another major event has come into my life surrounding life and death: the passing of my first little love, my life's companion for so many years, my Familiar kitty. Once more, I am faced with the question: is my life totally in line with my heart's true joy? Life is so ephemeral, and death is always so close. Is there anything that I need to release here in order to truly live fully?

I have thought of moving to Peru for a long time now. A LONG time. It has called out to me for years. I have felt more at home there than anywhere else, and have found deep peace in my experiences there, both in ceremony, in connecting with the people, and in the land of the Andes mountains. And I promised myself a long time ago that I would not run away to Peru. That I would only move there if I was running *to* something, not escaping anything. But honestly, every time I have considered living there, I have always been considering the ways of living and thinking and being that I would love to leave behind. Peru has awakened me on a lot of levels, and opened my heart and mind so deeply! But even now, if I were to move to Peru, I would be going there as a refugee from a culture that I feel no connection with, that doesn't meet my deepest needs.

This weekend, while at the Compassionate Classrooms workshop in Durham, NC, I had the blessing of connecting with some really wonderful people. I attended as a teaching artist, not a classroom teacher, as many of the attendees were. And beyond the wonderful ideas for using NVC in my work in classrooms and arts integration programs, I was surprised to feel something else stirring...something old and familiar that breaks free now and then, the lioness of idealism within me roaring to dive in deep in order to bring change to the world. This inner lioness was stirred up, too, by one of the wonderful facilitators of the workshop, Catherine...who is quite the lioness herself.

So, today as I drove the five hours north from Durham to home, I found this inner lioness purring and prodding me to think about some things that keep coming up for me. The biggest piece is about wanting to really live my life in service of others, and in a way that makes a real difference. I want my life on this planet to matter! And this feeling wells up from within me strong like a river, like a moth flying toward a flame. Over and over, the way that has come up is in the realm of teaching. I have considered going to school to receive my teaching license many times, most recently last fall, right around now. But each time, what has stopped me is the bullshit that surrounds being a teacher! Once, it was the requirements of the school that halted me. I simply couldn't imagine having to go back and take freshman level "requirements" like algebra and PE, just in order to qualify for a music teaching certification. I walked away. And since, I have considered what would be needed to do a master's degree in would take 1 1/2 years, most likely...but when I consider what the job would actually look like, I have felt disheartened and again, walked away. I figured that at best, I would connect with kids and be a great teacher...and at worst, I would be seen as a subverter of the system, and fired. But now, once more the idea is surfacing. Oh, the thought of being a classroom teacher who is *also* an arts integration specialist, and who is *also* passionate about NVC! Oh, the thought of it just makes me buzz!

What if I could be a strong, loving presence in the classroom, and work to change the system from the inside out? What if I could drop my feelings of powerlessness to make any change in the world, and step into my power, beginning to create the world I want to live in? Today as I sat with all of this, the thing that flashed like lightning through my mind was "huh...I don't need to move to Peru after all." I can stay right here in my own country and instead of feeling like a failing martyr, I can stand full and strong in my power, and work to make change from the ground of peace and love. Peace and love as *practices* and not just hippie ideals. Peace and love with tools and vision and community. Now that's worth waking up for in the morning.

No hurry here. I am just grateful to sit present with these ideas as they come, and am grateful to feel supported in considering the real possibilities. But just like the months that followed 9/11, I feel a strong wind of change blowing through my life. And I am ready and willing to bow to its guidance, and follow the truths that emerge.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Leaving Durham

What an amazing weekend this has been. Truly a blessing during a time in my life when I needed it the most. This has been a time of going into deep questions, of connecting with my desires to turn love into action, and of experiencing community around those questions and desires. I have been able to hold space for myself in this time of mourning without having to go into seclusion, and have been able to engage in meaningful experiences and conversations with wonderful people, and without ever feeling the need to turn the sad, hurting parts of myself away. It has been a weekend of both/and instead of either/or. In NVC language, it has been a time of "power with" instead of "power over." And I am feeling deeply nourished.

Tonight I had a long, wonderful conversation with Eileen, my gracious host and dear new soul sister. She is a strong, yet gentle woman, with a huge heart, and rich laughter. I have enjoyed hearing stories about her life, connecting in a really rich, authentic way. And I greatly appreciate the space to be who I am, to say anything, to ride the wave of life as it shows amazing gift she has offered me. I have been talking so much lately about how I am coming into a time of truly accepting and loving myself, of being able to show up authentically without fear of judgement or not being accepted. But each time this shows up in my life with a new person, it gives me strength in this new way of being. It gives me confidence in this new, vulnerable way of living in the world, and encourages me to feed it, water it. And it is an ever-giving way of living...the more I am accepted, the more I am able to embrace others with that same acceptance, which delivers more of the same to me, on and on and on.

When I start to get excited about this way of living in the world, I can get so carried away, and start writing in a way that is ecstatic and beatific, and what I do notice when that happens is that I lose the connection with others, and with this world. I am wanting to observe that more in my life to see how it shows up. The energy that I feel in this excitement is an energy that moves me powerfully to express what it is that I'm feeling. The energy moves up and out in a rush. There is a part of me that is wondering how it would feel to approach things in another way. Not to repress the power of the feeling of excitement, but to allow it to simmer and deepen instead of exploding out of me in the form of words or action. What would it be like if I could simply sit with that intense living energy, and allow it to live within me? When the flames of the fire are licking the logs and dancing high, the fire is beautiful, but it is when the flames die down and the logs start to glow that the fire becomes mature, and the heat really radiates. I just wonder how this same principle might work in my own life. Hmmm...

As I prepare to return home tomorrow morning, I am feeling glad to return to my bed and my kitty. It will be wonderful to connect with the beautiful people in my life, and to begin the walk in my life once more, with more time having passed since Familiar kitty died. I am still feeling sadness about his passing every single day. I am still feeling the intensity of the impact of his passing on my body. I am thinking that having an acupuncture session early in the week would be wonderful if I can get that scheduled, for sure. And I am finding a real need to remember to stay present to my own experience and feelings, instead of pushing them away in the name of convenience or being "strong." I want to return to the soft place that this loss has opened in me, to stay connected to my heart even as life goes on.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dancing my way Whole

I have never been much on dancing. Sure, there have been times here and there when I have felt drawn to get all decked out and head to a club to dance - usually with all my favorite gay guys. These dance nights usually involved alcohol, and were filled with techno music about love and sex and the like. And while I have gone along with those dance nights, they have never felt comfortable to me. I never craved them. There was something raw and animal that was very alive in dancing in those environments, but the undercurrent of sexuality was always somewhat creepy to me. I never wanted to go dancing to check out men, and sure didn't want them checking me out too closely! As a larger woman, dancing has always made me feel like hiding in the corner. I mean, if dancing is part of the whole "meat market" of "hooking up" - as it has felt to me - then of what value am I, a larger woman, in a sea of skinny, "hot" chicks?

Well, I am endlessly grateful that I have been letting go of this kind of thinking over the last few years. Through Kundalini yoga, I began to release my fears about what would happen if someone saw my curves jiggling so much...and it has come in deeper and deeper to my way of life. As I have come to accept and love my body more, I don't feel so much like hiding. And tonight at the Dancing Lodge, that has been transcended more than ever before.

What a brilliant - if not new - possibility: that dancing could be a celebration of life in a much deeper way, of connecting to the Great Spirit that flows livingness through each of us! Tonight I *loved* dancing. Loved it. Completely. Uninhibited. Free.

If I am able to accept myself fully and completely, then I will be able to show up in my life without being afraid of how others will feel about me, how they might judge me, and *everything* is better. And if I am able to allow my body to be free to express itself without any fear of judgement, then I will inhabit every beautiful corner and curve and twist and turn and feeling that comes through this physical form, beautiful as it is.

Dancing solo. Dancing and moving, finding the ways that the body can move when given space for that expression. Patterns emerge, patterns are broken, moving and stillness flow one into the other, sometimes without warning. There is a kind of knowing that is within the body that is deeper than the mind. It is primal, instinctual, intuitive, it is its own rich expression of living. And to explore space - within and around me - was a beautiful adventure. The conscious choice to leave behind fear, to leave behind thinking, to just feel and move. Incredible.

Dancing in partnership. The beauty of being held and received as my body expressed my experience in this day. If my mind had had any opportunity to consider it, the answer would have been "fuck! I don't know how to do that!" And yet, given no opportunity to *not know* meant that the body had the chance to express itself before the mind could enter. What power there is in allowing dance and movement to tell this story. And moving into partnership, into trust with one person, then another, then another - oh, how many ways there are to dance with others in this world! Twirling one after another into the center of trust, letting life carry us forward with no fear, no question, only moving and connecting. I was deeply moved - in fact, I now feel like I know what trust actually means in a much richer way.

Dancing in community. Holding space. Aloneness and togetherness, dancing in rhythm. Oh, the joy of moving together, of savoring each person's sweet jewel of being. And to come together without the story, without history, without names, without reason, only to share in that togetherness. And even being alone is held sweetly within community. There is space there to be alone without being isolated - and that is a true gift. How many ways there are to dance, walk, sing, create, be in this world! To come together to embrace those different ways of showing up in all their beauty - oh, yes, this is the world I want to live in!

Dancing to the Great Spirit. Body as prayer. Motion as prayer. Breathing, sweating as prayer. Surrendering everything as prayer. This is holy, this is sacred, timeless, transcendent. And this is what I have been longing for deep in every cell in my body.

What if we could show up together, bringing all of our presence, and sitting aside the details of our lives, and embrace each other for no other reason than our shared humanness? What if that shared experience burned away the ordinary boundaries that keep us living in such separation? What if I could openly and freely express huge, powerful LOVE to a room full of beings without having any motive other than loving them, and loving myself? This is the world I want to live in.

Tonight I prayed with tobacco, asking that this heavy, tight, sharp heartache would be lifted. I prayed that this time of sorrow wouldn't shut me down further, protecting my heart from more pain from loving and letting go. I prayed that my heart would be stretched ever wider, so that I would be able to love even more, even deeper, so that I would gladly and willingly accept the pain that may come from loving so completely. I prayed that my heart would let go of this protection that has come through my nervous system, trying to keep me able to function in my body, in my world, in a time of such intense sorrow. I prayed that the fear that has been knocking at my door would be washed away in a flood of love and dancing that tonight's sweet Dancing Lodge Ceremony was sure to bring. And I showed up, fully ready to surrender everything to the fire of dancing.

I moved in more ways than I ever have before. I felt the sweet gift of bare feet on the floor, and sweat trickling down my back. I felt the joy of sisterhood, sweaty and swaying in a flow of connection. I felt the power of masculine energy, and the power of feminine energy, and the incredible appreciation we share for each other. I felt rose petals under my feet, dancing the joy of peace, and of living rich and fully alive. I danced the overwhelming sorrow of loss, and the blessing of a love that is so huge that this much pain could be possible. I danced in connection to all that I know, all that I love, all that is true and holy in this world.

And for the first time in almost two weeks, I felt really, really happy.

I prayed once more, after the ceremony had ended. I prayed that when my time to leave this sweet Earth comes, that I may be so completely centered in love and in the ways that I may serve this world through that love, that there is no room left for fear.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Moving Past Fear

Well, it was bound to happen sometime...I missed writing yesterday! I was lying in bed last night, and it hit me that I hadn't written here...and I took a deep breath and let it go. Today is another day, and here I am, showing up on the page again.

Yesterday the fog started to clear, and it has continued to clear throughout today. The fear-based thinking that has been pulling me down, down, down began to lift. But not willingly. It has taken some serious effort on my part, some serious desire to hoist the thick stuckness off of me, and to send it on its way again and again.

I had a conversation with my beloved neighbor Lynn yesterday morning. The night before, I had fallen into a panic-stricken terror while trying to fall asleep. I had seen Alan's light on and knocked on the door, and he kindly sat with me while I wept and shivered and was overcome by the experience. Lynn suggested that *this* wasn't grieving and mourning...that it was something else. Possibly something else that was trying to feed on my grieving and mourning. An attachment that was drawn to the dark, heavy, sorrowful energy I have been emitting. And that attachment energy/presence/being/whatever was triggering me to feeling more alone and afraid and paranoid in order to feed itself. Having had strange experiences with energies like this before, I decided to sit with her idea, and see what happened.

She was absolutely right on.

There was one heavy presence, thick and gooey like a jellyfish, that was draped over my head, making it impossible for me to connect to any feeling or thought of love and power. I knew that I loved things, was passionate about things, but couldn't remember what exactly...I was stuck! I also felt there were two other secondary presences that were benefitting from the brain-sucking of the first one...and using my fear to trigger pain and pressure in my body, making me more afraid and paranoid that something was wrong with me. Seeing this, shining light into the dark places, these "attachments" were caught in the act - busted! And things started to change instantly.

My mantra these last two days has been "get the FUCK OFF of me!" Sometimes it has been necessary to physically pull the energies off my body. Sometimes the intention and words and feeling behind them are enough. But I have found in this a path back to my power. My center. Even if I was suffering from some strange series of afflictions, is *this* the way I want to die? Shriveled in fear and paranoia? Absolutely not! And I have felt things really turn upward today. Little bubbles of something have started appearing in my belly, along with feelings of something like joy in my heart. They are small, and still lost in a sea of sadness and residual body responses to fear and trauma, but they are there. Like seedlings emerging in the spring.

At our last Wisdom Circle, someone asked a question, "what gets you out of bed in the morning?" My answer came quickly, spontaneously. I get out of bed in the morning in the same way that seedlings emerge in the spring, from cold, hard, desolate earth that appears barren. I awake in the morning with the call of the sun, the call of life. And now, in this time of letting go and healing from the death of my sweet little Familiar kitty, the same energy is emerging. The energy of uprising, of life living itself alive over and over and over again.

What has been coming as a gift in this time of sorrow, followed by this time of fear, is the experience of softness. Of feeling laid out onto the ground, sprawling, vulnerable, with no resistance left in me. And beyond the fear and paranoia about my own mortality, beyond my sorrow about the loss of my kitty, there is this other piece of me, raw and honest. In fact, as I sit with it right now, I find that the sorrow and the fear and paranoia are *re-actions* to things that have happened. But this deeper piece is not...this raw, honest part is maybe the simplest, purest voice that I have ever heard come from me. It isn't worried about how I look or sound, how I will be perceived, what anyone else in the world is doing or thinking. It merely shows up, vulnerable and simple, honest for lack of energy to be anything else. And this voice feels so authentic. It almost feels like the other responses are happening in the snowglobe of my life - shaken up completely - but this other voice is the one that emerges after the snow settles down - in the empty space. Mmm. Yes.

A little more than a week before Familiar kitty passed, I had come to discover this new authenticity appearing in my life, and a total shift away from the fears that I had carried so long regarding how I am perceived by others. I am grateful to have taken the time to acknowledge that and to be present with it in my writing. And now, I see how that came at the perfect time. I have been learning to be authentic in a whole new way in this process of grief and panic and letting go. I am in various degrees of falling apart and coming back together every day right now! And there is no part of me that is trying to hide, to push people away, to pretend everything is fine, life as usual. Life is *not* as usual. And I am living authentically, riding that wave as it comes, accepting everything, trying to stay present. One breath at a time. One step at a time. One day at a time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One Week

From my seat here in my bed, I can see a cloudy blue sky, and a tree whose leaves are just beginning to turn yellow. The sunlight is faint and weak this morning, providing some brightness but little warmth. But I am lucky, I am being given warmth by the cozy blankets all around me, and especially by the little golden kitty to my left side. He has a fixation with licking my hands, and has been licking away as I type. I sometimes think he likes the taste of the soap I use in the bathroom - Dr. Bronner's Peppermint - it must feel cool on his tongue.

One week ago right now, I was outstretched in the bathroom floor as my little Familiar kitty love was suffering and whining, crying out weakly. I am glad that I will not be home when that fated hour arrives - 1110am - the hour of his passing. It seems impossible that a week has passed since he died. In fact, since he became ill, my whole sense of the passing of time has become even less clear than usual. It is like the whole flow of my life stopped for him. I have a hard time figuring out which day it is, and what time it is. I am meeting my obligations without trouble, but in the other hours of the day, I feel pretty much lost. It's amazing the way a little being can give so much meaning to the day...and how empty and confusing those days become when that little being is gone.

But Friday kitty is such an incredible blessing. He can't heal the heartbreak or erase the sorrow. But he is so loving and so cuddly, and he just shows up *all the time* to love me. I always have laughed about his sweetness - that he is a "heart with feet." And that's always been true. If people broke into the house to steal stuff, I can just imagine him saying, "okay, take what you want, but hey, sit down a while and give me some love, what are you in such a hurry for?!" My little Friday kitty teacher has taught me many things, too. The two that have come to mind the most readily are these: have no memory, and love everyone for no reason. These are the gifts of this little being to my heart. I love him so much, and if he wasn't here right now, I don't know if I could be in this house anymore.

It all came on so quickly with Familiar - he seemed fine, and then he wasn't, and then he was gone in less than two days. And this has given me plenty of anxiety about my own body and mortality. The pain of my sorrow has definitely come into my body, with pronounced anxiety. Add to that PMS and an unusual amount of cramps accompanying that, and I have been pretty paranoid. I haven't been to a doctor in years, and I have little faith in western medicine...they tend to treat people as objects, so little respect, and very little time and listening...they just seem to want to medicate you and get you out of the office. But this is why I have come to appreciate alternative medicine so much. My acupuncturist always has the time to listen to what is going on, body, mind, and spirit. In fact, it is necessary to know that in order to choose a treatment. But now, my mind spins to "what if?" If Familiar kitty could go from fine to gone in a few days, my own life is equally fragile. And my parents have health issues that are considered genetically passed down - high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. I find myself concerned that I will be afflicted with these things too, especially given that I am overweight and have been my whole life. When my mind gets hold of these ideas, the fear and paranoia mount, more and more and more.

But the truth is that I am not my parents. I eat relatively well. I don't eat junk food, really, and haven't for years. I eat fresh fruit and veggies, and whole grains. I have been vegetarian for more than ten years. I do eat way too much sugar, though, and that is probably my major downfall in eating healthy. I do walk somewhat regularly, too, but am not as active as I'd like to be. I have been making an effort to walk more these last few days. I suppose that if this fear and paranoia do bring me a sincere message of ways that I can improve my own health and wellbeing, they are not empty messengers. I am listening to those needs, the needs to take better care of my body out of love of this life.

The clouds have cleared somewhat, and the sunlight is bolder. A soft breeze is rustling the trees, and a bird is calling in the distance - or is that a squirrel? It is a beautiful day. I am grateful to be alive in this sweet world.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Peace Possibilities

It's cold outside tonight. Almost as cold as last night. Quiet, so quiet, only an occasional car driving in the distance, and the crickets singing, and the wind in the trees. And now, purring. Friday kitty has settled near me, and is purring loudly. Such a comforting, soothing sound, that is.

I am looking forward to this weekend. I'm going to attend a Nonviolent Communication workshop geared toward teachers, which is something I've been hoping to find for almost a year. It is in Durham, NC, someplace I've never been before. I am excited that this will count as my professional development training for the year through the Choral Arts Society, and that they will fund the registration fee...which makes it possible for me to attend a workshop like this, which came up out of the blue a couple weeks ago. And I found out earlier today that someone there is willing to host me for the weekend, so I won't have to pay for a hotel. Awesome!

I am so grateful for Nonviolent Communication. I sure have a lot to learn, that is really clear. But these trainings have given me real-life meaningful tools to learn to listen better, both to other people and to myself. What am I feeling? What are the needs that are/are not being met? Empathy used to be a vague idea to me, something that was at best, Buddha-like compassion, and at least, a thin cover for pity. But now I understand the truth of it - empathy is merely a practice of showing up, listening to what needs to be heard, and having no agenda in that process. The last part is so important, too...and so hard!

The tools I am gathering through NVC are much like the tools I am gathering in our Wisdom Circles. Listening is the heart of it. For years and years I wished to be a better listener. I wanted to be able to show up for people and take in what they had to offer in conversation. But much of the time, I just couldn't do it. I have so much energy, so many things to say, so many ideas of how to change the world! But in that last bit came the downfall of the first two - I came with an agenda. To fix what needed fixing. To save the world, that was my goal. But I didn't understand that to save the world, all I would need to do is hold space for others to give birth to their truths, while giving birth to my own, too.

It is a hard thing, to listen to problems, complaints, suffering, confusion, drama. I find myself wanting to offer solutions and ideas, ways to make things better. And the heart of that is sincere, pure. I want to help! More than anything, I want to help! But what I am learning one day at a time is that help doesn't mean offering my own ideas most of the time. It means merely offering my presence and my open mind and heart, and merely listening, and accepting what is offered without judgement. Little by little, this is beginning to happen more easily.

The workshop at hand fills me with new excitement - what if NVC could be offered to little kids in Washington, DC, built into programs that fit my current work as a teaching artist? What if little kids from bad neighborhoods could learn that there are other ways of dealing with people and problems besides violence in action and in words? What if little kids could be given the true freedom to express what needs expressing, feel what they feel, and have people listen to them with respect? It's probably a long shot - kids who grow up in violent households won't be utterly transformed in five short visits from me. But I have hope that I can plant a seed. In little minds and hearts. In teachers. In classrooms. Nothing would be more fulfilling than to find ways of bringing peace into the lives of these kids...peace, not as an abstract idea, but as a practice, a way of life. Yeah!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Passing of Familiar Kitty

There is a part of me that wants to float again, to push past the deep sorrow that has made its way into my heart, but the sorrow is seeping into my body, into my bones. As it must. Anyone worth loving is worth mourning. And my body is offering itself over to the grief process. I feel heavy and tired, I find myself staring off into space, feeling tingly and strange. I feel fear and panic, as I previously wrote, and somewhere deeper than that is a deep desire to go on living strong and bright. The strong part of me wants to coax me out of mourning, and says, "you should get a little kitten!" But there is another part of me that wants to just sink into this sadness, not push it aside. Also, not dramatize it, or feed it, but to just honor it when it appears.

I have somehow avoided going into the depth of writing about Familiar kitty's death and ceremony. Part of me wants to let it go. But another part of me just can't, and wants to honor his little life with a heartfelt telling of his death. I am going to try.

When I wrote last Wednesday, I wrote only a couple hours before he passed. It was Wednesday morning that it happened, a little after 11am.

I felt that his end was coming near. I was actually stunned that he had not passed in the night. I had trained my ears to listen for his cries, his whines...and throughout the previous night I had gone to him whenever he cried. He had settled in the green bathroom, behind the toilet for the most part, on Tuesday evening. After getting himself there, he had little strength to move again.

I had asked Alan to stay over on Tuesday night, both to care for Friday and to be there in case Familiar had passed during the night. I was afraid of what I would do if I found him dead in the night, and I knew that having support was better. I gave Alan my bed, and I took a mattress on the floor of the meditation room. And all through the night, he cried out, and I went to him. Around sunrise, I started giving him Rescue Remedy, which allowed him to be calmer, and sometimes more than an hour would pass without him crying out. When Alan got up to leave, I got up too, and was so surprised to see his bony body still pulsing with breath.

I knew that all there was left for me to do was be with him. His cries were weaker than ever. His breathing was shallow and soft. His eyes looked dazed and non-responsive. I kept bursting into tears every few minutes, stunned that he was leaving me. I called Lynn, and asked if she could come over...she was on her way to class, and said she would come by later in the morning. I called Ros, and she was able to come over and sit with me for a few minutes. She was the last person other than me to touch his sweet little head, or kiss his soft fur.

I lay on my side, between the toilet and the bathtub, reaching my hand to his little cold paw. I rubbed it and squeezed it constantly. I talked to him softly, telling him how much I loved him, telling him how sorry I was that he was suffering, and that I couldn't believe that this time had come. Now and then, he would cry out with more power, and would try to sit himself up or even stand, but his strength was failing. He would stretch out his legs, reaching and pushing with all the strength he could manage as he cried out. I hope that he wasn't feeling agonizing pain...I felt so helpless, having no idea how to help him. He pushed himself side to side behind the toilet, front legs pushing against the sink, then hind legs pushing against the bathtub. It was heartbreaking to watch.

When his position was more centered around the sink, I moved my body to that side. I lay belly-down on the urine stained bath towels, and took his sweet little head in my hands. When Ros arrived, this is how she found us. She was there to comfort me, and was so kind to both me and my little kitty. She stayed a short time, and then left us together with her prayers and love.

After she left, I talked to my little love. I told him with more authority than I could have consciously managed, "I am ready to let you go." I talked to him about how my emotional reaction must be hard for him, too, because it must seem that I want him to stay. Indeed, I wanted him to stay!! Forever and ever, for the rest of my life, I wanted him to stay! But that was clearly not what was happening, and I wanted to reassure him that when his time came, I didn't want him to hold on to this life and this suffering for me. I sobbed my heart out, and eventually stood to get some water.

Throughout the morning I had only moved away from him a couple times. Each time, his cries would pull me back as quick as I could get there, and this last one was no different. I came right back to almost seemed that whenever I wasn't touching him, he would cry out. His eyes were so wide, as if they were trying to take in the light, even though the room was brightly lit with morning light and the lights on too. I wondered if he had lost his sight, and if touch was the only way he was able to know I was still there. I stayed there, and held him - his paw, his face. I talked to him, I sang to him medicine songs that came to my mind. And I told him that God is so good. I told him that when his guardians, angels, and guides come to take him that he needed to go with him, to let go of this body and this life. Now, looking back on this, I can hardly believe that I was able to be so present and so strong with him - my heart was destroyed, I was beside myself with sorrow, and yet I knew that the only thing for me to do in those moments was to sit that slightly aside to be there for him.

His cries became weaker. He had pushed himself much more toward the sink. I reached over to him, and slid his tiny frame from behind the toilet, and closer to me. I thought that by having my body closer to his, I could offer him more comfort. And what a sweet thing, to feel his body so close to mine at that moment. I continued to hold his head in my hand, and his paw in my other hand. As he cried out again, one of his paws reached out and grazed my face, and then my arm...he had been pushing with his legs as the agony would come, and now he had nothing to push into but me. He eventually began to grip at the towel, too, and I reassured him that I was there, and that it was all going to be okay. I noticed that he had begun to poop, and I reached over and grabbed some tissue to clean that up. He cried out again, and I brought my face close to him, crying harder than ever. Then, his pushing, stretching, reaching paws relaxed.

Something moved through my body, and I pushed myself up onto my forearms, and I looked at his little belly. It was not moving. So many things went through my mind, but I pushed them aside...I knew that the moment had come. A powerful gasp came from him, his little toothy mouth open, tongue reaching out, eyes open wide. His side was still not moving, though I could see his heartbeat just beneath the surface of his skin. One paw reached out in a clawing, clenching motion. I took it in my hand, and I told him that it was okay, to let go...the other paw reached out in a similar way, and I squeezed it too. One more powerful gasp came. I continued to hold on to him, and tell him how much I loved him, and to encourage him to let go, to go with the spirits/guides/angels who had come to help him pass. I could hardly breathe myself...waiting, hoping that maybe this was just a time of shock, that his belly would start to rise and fall again...but it did not. I tried to sing to him, to hold space for his spirit to pass out of the body, but through the song came a river of tears.

I wept more uncontrollably than I have ever wept before. I cried out from the bottom of my heart, the bottom of my soul, I just couldn't believe that he was gone. I stayed with him, too, still holding him, waiting for his heart to slow and stop beating altogether. I heard the front door open, and a "hello sweetie" call out. Lynn had arrived.

She couldn't have had more perfect timing. I cried and cried and cried, and she held my hands and pulled me close. She held space for me to be in that intense grief, and I was so grateful not to be there alone in that moment. She stayed with me for about an hour.

I tried to close his little eyes and mouth, but couldn't really. I kept wanting to go back to his little body, a shell of the kitty that I had loved for thirteen years. I buried my face in the fur of his neck, as I had so many times before, and it still smelled like him. He was still warm, and I cried into his neck until the fur was wet. After some time, Lynn helped me to clear out the bathroom so that I could wrap him up. I decided to wrap his body in a bright orange wrap that I had bought from Amma's shop when I saw her for the first time several years ago. It had little Indian symbols on it, and some Sanskrit blessings too, and I had taken it to Peru to use as an altar cloth before - it felt special and sacred to me, and would be perfect to bury my little kitty love in.

I thought I would be freaked out by moving the body of my little one, cold and stiff, no longer warm and alive. Lynn offered to do it for me, but I knew that I needed to do it myself. We cleared the extra towels, keeping one, and folded the wrap in half on top of it. I reached down and picked up my little kitty, and the river of tears began again. Oh, how badly I had wanted to hold on to my little kitty love as he was dying, and how it seemed to cause him suffering whenever I would pick him up out of necessity. But in that moment, he was no longer suffering. His body was so small, and not so fragile anymore. I held him and squeezed him, and I was so surprised that his fur felt so soft, still. I touched his face, running my fingers over his soft cheekbones, his soft nose, his soft forehead, and his little ears and neck. It was the saddest thing I have ever experienced, this little body that was once so alive. But it was also so healing to hold him, one last time. I held him for a long time. But eventually the time came for me to put him down and wrap him up. I closed the bathroom door after that, and left a bowl of sage burning within.

I need to stop here. I want to share about the beautiful ceremony, too, but that will have to wait. My heart aches anew just writing about this, and I simply can't go into it any further right now.

It will take a long time for me to fully let go of this sweet being that blessed my life for so many years. The sorrow is so deep, but it is flowing, too.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Body and Beyond

It is a cold evening, but I am still keeping my windows open. Fall is blowing in more every day, and tonight I walked in crunchy fallen leaves for the first time this season. Today was filled with goodness. I joined some dear friends at the Maryland Renaissance Festival for a day of merriment and togetherness, and it was probably the best thing I could have done. After so much seriousness, so much sorrow, and so much intensity, it was a blessing to just be in the sunshine, to follow the flow of the day, the flow of conversation. To allow myself to be carried by the experience, without having any goals or particular demands on me. And the sunshine was warm and soothing, a balm on my whole being.

At one point today, Sarah and I were talking about death and the intensity of that. She had overheard others at the festival talking about next year when they would come back. And she offered her own thoughts about impermanence, that people count so much on "next year" or "next time" but the truth is that there are no guarantees. That all we have is right now. This touched deeply into my own feelings and what I have experienced in the last week. Indeed, I have no way of knowing when this body and mind will come to their end.

It is all the ceremonies I have done, I have faced the limits of body and mind, over and over. And I have been taken into the most incredible space of transcendence - within this space, I have been shown beyond any doubt that I am far, far more than my body and mind. I know that in the depth of me. But there is something in the struggle of eventually relinquishing the physical that really distresses me. In my first Ayahuasca ceremonies, I knew that I would be asked to face things that were really intense and scary and difficult, and I had all the courage in the world to go into that. But there was deep fear about the physical suffering - the purging, the strangeness in my body. And I can see how this is connected to the distress I feel about dying to the body, too. While I know that I am far more than flesh and bones and monkey mind, these are the things that I experience life through. I am a being that experiences livingness through sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, and intuitive perception. I have a body that offers me these sensory perceptions. These things are the way I relate to myself and to others. So much of my life is involved in caring for this body and mind, too. Eating, sleeping, bathing, moving, goes on and on...

And even as I write here, I have some deep sense of how small these things are in relation to the great big Divineness of the universe. Am I so attached to the little things, such as drinking tea and brushing my teeth, and taking a shower, and cooking, and shaving my legs? The part of me that likes to be deep and philosophical says, "no, of course not..." but the part of me that is more honest says, "yes, actually. This is all we know..." And in some way that is the truth of if. But I have experienced the greater reality! I know that place too! I suppose what I am realizing right now is that these two ways of knowing and living are not integrated yet. Can I hold the transcendent within my body during the mundane activities? And can I bring the truth of my mundane needs into my life within the Divine? This is something worth sitting with, for sure.

One more piece of it is this - for all the years that I have not felt grounded or had much desire to think about my body at all, in this moment I am really feeling what a precious thing life is, body especially. This body is an amazing gift through which I can perceive and experience all the other ways that God has come into livingness upon this Earth. What an incredible gift indeed. And I am feeling a renewed desire to really care for my body in every way that I can. Eating nourishing things, walking, yoga, massage and acupuncture, and whatever else appears to be necessary to give it what it needs.

The mind is such a hungry vulture, though...wanting all the attention, all the care given to it. Feed me knowledge, feed me curiosities, feed me literature and science and history and and and and... On and on it goes, its hunger is insatiable. It bats away the body, saying, "yeah, yeah, later..." This is my experience, for sure. The body is merely a vehicle for the head to get its needs met. And what a lie! Actually, the body has its needs, and the mind has its needs, and the heart has its needs, and the spirit has its needs. And all must be met each day in order to live a life that is fulfilled and whole. I have fed my mind and spirit far more than my body and my heart for most of my life. And now that my heart is getting its due, my body is shyly stepping up and saying, "um, is it possible that I, too, might be cared for?" And the answer is yes, oh yes. Yes, oh yes.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I am sitting here at my desk, purring Friday kitty by my side in the green chair. I have just returned from a beautiful evening of community and intimate, meaningful conversation at our monthly Wisdom Circle. There is a pronounced chill in the night air, and what a surprise after yesterday's streak of hot weather!

I am sitting here, breathing in the midst of what wants to become a panic attack. After having acupuncture this afternoon, I was hoping that I would feel more grounded and centered in my body, and to some extent I do. But I also feel anxiety banging at my back door, threatening to come in and immerse me. I called Ali, and she kindly reminded me about focusing on the exhale helps, as well as the beautiful help that my dear beloved friends, plant essences, can offer. I have just used some Geranium and Clary Sage, and am feeling a little calmer.

There is a part of me that has experienced a very raw taste of the true vulnerability of life. I have seen just how fragile life is, and how quickly it can pass. And my own mortality is staring me in the face. I, too, will come to a time when my last breath will leave my body. In this moment, there is a part of me that questions the panic that is always with a panic attack, there is always the idea of something far worse that could be happening. Sigh. As I talked to Ali, she asked me some pertinent medical questions, and said with compassion and understanding that I am fine, I am young, and I have just been through a tremendous amount of emotional and physical stress. I know that she is right. But there is always that question in the back of my mind that says, "yes, but Familiar kitty's illness crept up when he seemed fine, too..."

I am feeling a little calmer right now as the Geranium and Clary Sage are settling into my body. I have also taken a 5HTP for stress. Now, a good night's sleep with a warm, golden kitty is in order.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Day of Healing

I am feeling strange in my body today. My head is foggy, and full of energy. My heart aches more than I have ever felt before. I feel completely ungrounded, sometimes lightheaded. Given the last couple of days of my life, this is no great surprise. I feel like my body is being rearranged to hold this great sorrow, alongside so much deep love. And I am grateful that tomorrow afternoon will include acupuncture, to help shift me back into a place of balance.

Thursday afternoon, my friend Sarah came over, and we spent some time clearing the house energetically with sage and sweetgrass and palo santo. It was so smoky at times that it was hard to breathe. As we walked around, from room to room, I spoke to the spirit of my little kitty, telling him that it was okay to leave energetically, that he could move on into greater adventures in the universe. I asked that the heavy energy of sorrow, trauma, pain, suffering, fear, and all the rest be lifted from the house. We opened the windows fully, and asked the energies that needed to leave to go through the windows, through the water (faucet, turned on), and through the Earth beneath us. I offered gratitude to my little buddy for all our beautiful years together, and told him that just because he had been in our house for the last almost eight years didn't mean that he had to linger. I told him that I let him go completely, not from my heart, but from my house, my life, this physical realm. And I told him that when the spirits/angels/guides/whoever are ready to take him on to whatever is next for him, that he should absolutely go with them.

We cleared all the places where he had been lying and suffering - the nook in the living room by the bookshelf, the futon, the music room by the dresser, the hallway, beneath the chair in the meditation room, the shower, and mostly the green bathroom. We saved the green bathroom for last, since that was where he passed. Sarah told me that she felt intuitively that I needed to clear that room alone, and we waited to do that room last. She stood outside as I spoke to the spirit of my sweet little one, and I faced her. As I spoke some of the above things to Familiar kitty, I felt something poke me in my right leg, below the knee, with enough strength to cause my knee to buckle a bit. It surprised me, more than scared me, and i realized that it was my kitty asking me to turn and speak to him directly. I sensed that his presence was right there with me, standing in the place where he passed. So, I turned, and continued to speak to him, to offer him my love and gratitude, asking for forgiveness for anything that I was feeling guilty about, and encouraging him to go on to his next life.

I also asked that if he did choose to continue to visit me, or to stay around, that I needed some time. I need some time to mourn him, to grieve this loss of him in a physical body that I can touch and see, that I can interact with in the only way that I know. I told him that that was too much for me, that it would make my grief even harder, and that it would probably creep me out for now. I asked that he give me some time before visiting me again - not because I don't still love him, because I do, completely! But because I need to get used to living without him there in my house every day, always nearby, always getting into something, always crying out, letting his presence be known. I think that there will be a time in the future where it would be deeply moving to know that he is nearby, that he is still my little companion, if only in spirit. But not yet.

When I came home from class last night, the energy in the house was so much lighter. It feels empty. So empty. My little Familiar kitty would always be right there - on the stove, on the kitchen counter, on the table, on the coffee table, by the front door, on the stereo cabinet, in the music room...and always moving, moving, moving. He kept the energy of my house stirred. And now that has shifted. I keep expecting to see him. I know his rhythm in my life. But now, after the clearing, that has shifted. It is quiet. It is still. Friday kitty doesn't move around a whole lot. It feels empty. But it feels clear. The heavy energy of trauma and suffering has lifted. I am grateful. I need to be comfortable in my own home, and I am so glad that he could hear my needs and honor them. I am also grateful for whatever beings/spirits/guides that were there, for them taking him onward into the universe.

What an honor and blessing it has been to share our lives together for these thirteen years. My heart was opened by him in those sweet first months together. And as he died, my heart was opened and stretched beyond anything I've ever felt before. I will write more specifically about his passing very soon. But it was still too soon today.

I decided that today I needed to take care of some simple, practical things. And that I also needed to connect to Mother Earth to begin my process of healing. So, I decided to go to Larriland Farm to pick apples. It was such a hot day! The sky was blue, and I was sweating as I picked Jonagold, Cameo, Braeburn, and Fuji apples. And then, I went on to harvest my own broccoli - yum! At one point, I walked past some grass that was super fine and soft, and I followed my heart's desire to recline in the grass in the sun, to feel the Earth holding me. She is holding me as I grieve. She is holding me as I stay open, allowing my sorrow to move me, to flow through. She gives me strength to not close myself to the transformative power of love, a power that clearly flows far beyond life and death in the physical realm. Before I left the farm, I also bought some fresh apple cider, and some little pumpkins and gourd - and I put one of each of those on Familiar kitty's sweet little grave.


Inside a hostel in Cusco, Peru