Thursday, November 26, 2009


What an amazing Thanksgiving. I am too tired to write much right now, but want to acknowledge the beautiful beings that graced my day: Ali, Ali, Forrest, Caitlin, Peyton, Sara, Max, Tiny, and Friday. Thank you all for being in my life.

An especially beautiful day, too, since today is my 12th anniversary of bringing Friday kitty into my life. Twelve years ago at Clinton Adams' Thanksgiving gathering for students, he introduced me to this sweet little skinny kitty. And now, so many years later, he is a round little Buddha. My life is especially blessed by him.

The conversations tonight were so open and real and beautiful. I am grateful to have connected and listened and spoken with such wonderful people. Each one revealed something that was so rich and brought much meaning to my day. I am endlessly grateful.

I am also grateful for a suggestion from Ali: what if I didn't replace my car at all, and worked to live as a pedestrian, and perhaps rent a car when I need one, or take public transport? What if, indeed... Quite possibly, this is the best suggestion I've had in a long, long time...hmmm...

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Heart of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week is here. And I have so much to be grateful for in my life. I am going to enjoy spending time each day devoting my attention to all the blessings my life has generously given me. Most recently, I am grateful to be alive and well in this body that I call my home. After my accident, I am feeling a renewed sense of gratitude for my life. Especially since during the previous week I spent a lot of time saying "fuck it all" and "what is the point of this life anyway?" I wonder if I had given more energy to that kind of thinking whether my accident would have turned out any differently... What I do know is that life gives us all opportunities to check out or to decide to stay around. And I am feeling pretty clear right now that I am exactly where I need to be. This life has a lot more to offer me, and I have a lot more to offer it.

I have a bright red rental car right now, and was able to go to the body shop and empty my car of so much crap. I was told that they should have an opportunity to check out my car tomorrow and hopefully determine the cost of repairs, and whether or not my insurance company will pay for those repairs or total the car. Either way, it is pretty much empty now. I took away bag after bag of stuff: two large plastic garbage bags filled with glass and plastic recycling, a bag of clothes and shoes, another bag of papers and binders, and several more bags of random stuff. I even found an umbrella! I didn't know I even owned one...

I am also grateful that I could go grocery shopping tonight. I pulled out a cookbook from a Buddhist monastery, and found a couple of heavenly sounding recipes. One was for quinoa lentil mushroom loaf, and the other was for sweet potato burritos. Unfortunately, I ended up needing a lot of ingredients, and headed out to Trader Joe's and My Organic Market. By the time I got home, it was nearly 8pm, and my steam for cooking up a feast had withered. So, tomorrow night I will have good things to create, and that sounds wonderful!

One of the things that I get frustrated with this time of year, though, is the whole speedy convenience living of it all. Trader Joe's was filled with tables and shelves of ready-made foods that would be luxurious and tasty for the holiday. And there were tons of folks flocking around them, picking their treasures. It makes me sad, though, that people are no longer willing to devote some good time to preparing this feast of gratitude. It has become, largely, just one more obligatory holiday where so many people just go through the motions and create the feast without any connection to the meaning of it all. Now, sure, much of the meaning could be found within a bunch of white religious zealots who sailed their ships to the New World and began spreading plagues and dominating the intricate balance the indigenous people held within the natural world. But somewhere deeper, I find this holiday a time of celebrating the harvest, the bounty that Mother Earth has given us yet again. Celebrating the beauty of togetherness, and creating food in community. Of celebrating gratitude for all that we receive. And there is something that makes my skin crawl about the whole way people buy the ready-made pie without knowing who made it, and without knowing where it came from, and without caring a bit about those things. One more way that Americans want what they want, cheap and convenient and easy, without needing to contribute much of themselves to it, other than money. *shiver*

And with these things in mind, I am feeling super-inspired to cook. I am feeling grateful for having a lot of time this week. I am also feeling grateful for the slowness I have been inviting into my life since I began this blog, contemplating voluntary simplicity. To me, cooking a feast to share with my beloveds is the very essence of what makes life worth living. And *that* is something that I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


For the moment, the only place in the house with a reliable internet connection is on the floor at the top of the stairs. This is going to likely limit my blogging for's cold, and my body isn't terribly comfortable in any position right now.

One small rant is necessary now. I am absolutely done expending energy on people who can't show up. I am a person of integrity. When I say I'll show up, I will be there. If I have issues making that happen, I will communicate it. And I have little tolerance for people who don't respect my time. Is it so hard, really, to make plans and stay with them, or just NOT make the plans in the first place? People who are consistently late really get under my skin...and people who are consistently significantly late lose me entirely. I simply will not bother to maintain any kind of relationship with people who live that way. I am committed to showing up in my life: on time, authentic, honest, fully present to the best of my ability. And I really do ask that in return. When that need isn't honored - the need for consistency, respect, trust - I need to take care of myself and walk away. Just sayin'...

Life feels strange right now. With the car accident making me less than mobile, I have a very free week ahead of me. My students on Monday and Wednesday have cancelled for Thanksgiving, and I cancelled my DC work on Monday, since I couldn't get a rental car in time. I have very little in the way of committments this week, other than Thanksgiving itself. I also cancelled going to work in the student massage clinic on Tuesday night. My body is still in far too much discomfort to manage that. So, I will enjoy this gift of time and space that this accident has provided me, and wait until the insurance company has given me the word on my car. Maybe I'll be spending some time this week car shopping...

For now, I am happy to be alive and well, reading Harry Potter, and enjoying these days in ease. My body does ache, and my right breast is purple from bruising from the seatbelt, but I am in one piece with no significant damage. That's plenty to be grateful for, indeed.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Too tired to touch it much tonight. My body aches, and my head feels heavy. If my car is determined fixable, I will be thoroughly stunned. I slammed so fucking hard into the woman's car who was in front of me, and I am still reliving that moment of impact. I am completely flabbergasted by the whole thing. I have no idea how the accident happened. I was clearly at fault, but have nothing but a blank spot in my memory of what preceded the impact. All I know is that I was driving and paying complete attention (as opposed to the many moments when I drive and do many other things) and the next moment, my car is slamming into hers, and my chest began to ache from the impact. I thought at first it must have been from hitting the steering wheel, but tonight a friend suggested that it could be from the way I was holding the steering wheel at the moment of impact, that the force of that was carried into my body, and has thoroughly bruised and strained my muscles in my chest. It is rather uncomfortable, but it could have been way, way worse. Seeing a large kitchen knife beside my gear shifter after the car had stopped was the thing that sent me over the edge. Knowing that that knife had been in my back window since June, and could easily have stabbed me in the back of the head...yikes.

But I am blessed and safe and only jarred and bruised. My car is probably totalled. What a day, what a day...

I am without a car through Monday, for now, too. The rental car places were fully booked for the whole weekend, and I am at the mercy of my feet and friends to get me where I need to be. I am hoping for an acupuncture appointment tomorrow, but that is dependent upon getting a ride there and back...I am praying for that. God knows I could definitely use some needling.

For now, though, I am warm and cozy, here with my kitty and the first Harry Potter book - which I am reading for the first time. A little magic in my life couldn't hurt. =)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Night Rain

A thunderstorm is gracing this lovely evening. It’s been warm and misty all day, and tonight as I returned home, the mist turned into a more steady drizzle. A light, lovely fog has lingered since morning, too, adding a stunning haziness to the clear edges of the world. What a stunning evening this is, too. It’s warm and humid, and the sweet, thick smell of wet earth permeates the night. It is delicious, heady, and intoxicating. I have been lulled out onto the porch by this glorious rainy evening, and am grateful for the temperature, which allows me to linger without the least bit of discomfort.

Dare I mention how strange it is to experience a thunderstorm in November, and to enjoy an evening that is likely near 60 degrees? To keep my windows open, just a little, each night as I go to sleep, though Thanksgiving is nearly a week away? Each year, I play a little game with myself: how late can I wait before turning on the heat? And last year, I made it to mid-November before freezing my ass off. Right now, it’s later than that, and I haven’t yet felt any need to turn to heat. Global warming, anyone?

Surely it is. Mother Earth is doing her best to keep balance in her ecosystems, but change is clearly here. Is she ill? In spite of the common belief that she is dying, that she is terminally damaged, I have my doubts about that. She is changing, for sure. She is doing her very best to purge the damages that we humans have wrought upon her sweet soils, and rivers, and oceans, and skies. If necessary, she will purge us right off her surface, I have no doubt. When there is an imbalance of harmful bacteria in our human bodies, our immune systems kick in and oust the invader that is causing so much trouble. And true, bacteria live in our bodies in great balance much of the time. It’s when the tipping point is reached and illness occurs that the purging must begin. And all this changing in our weather patterns is Mother Earth’s global immune system trying to set things right.

God bless her, for sending these beautiful purging rains to cleanse her of the harmful, toxic elements that we have hoisted upon her systems in our ignorance. And God bless this heavy rain that now falls. And God bless this sweet sacred Tobacco that has brought me into a deeper, more intimate connection with this night, with the cool air, damp and sweet.

Thunder rumbles again as the rain becomes heavier and heavier. And as I sit here on the porch in the candlelight, I am feeling good inside. Simple. Sweet. Content.

It has been six weeks since Familiar kitty died, six weeks yesterday. And I am feeling my body return to its own state of equilibrium, releasing the pain of sorrow and grief. My life continues, and I am grateful for that. There is electricity in the air tonight, and I am feeling alive and alert, and grateful for having a life that allows me this connection with Mother Earth. A television flickers in a house to my left, and I wonder if those people have any idea what splendor they’re missing. While they sit in their house following sitcoms or dramas or news, out here Mother Earth is telling her own story, a story of renewal and simplicity and ease and necessity and life. Lightning flashes brightly, followed three seconds later by deep, rich thunder.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Life as Art

I have missed writing more in the last two weeks than since I started writing, including yesterday, and just before I went to sleep last night, I thought about writing just to capture some words on the page. Then, I told myself not to do it. There's no point in writing a paragraph that says virtually nothing just out of obligation. But obligation aside, I have committed to writing this blog pretty much daily, and today I am renewing that committment.

It's been a full week already. Yesterday Alan moved most of his stuff into the house, and today he finished. In preparation for the move, I also spent a lot of time cleaning the carpets, as well as going through all of my stuff. There is so much crap that I have accumulated in this house over these almost eight years! And it's so good to go through and downsize. Just today I freecycled a pair of hiking boots, as well as the frame to a futon that had been given to me. If I only can keep this stamina for a while, I can hopefully get rid of lots more crap that I don't need anymore.

As I type, Friday has crawled onto my left knee, and is happily purring away, licking my fingers and the back of my hand. What a beautiful kitty! Yesterday, as I steamed the carpets, I made sure he was far away from the noise. I let him out onto the porch, and he spent some time nestled under a table that is covered in a bright Bolivian tablecloth...under the table is a box filled with dry spearmint leaves. He love to crawl in there and munch on the minty leaves and just hang out. He spent a lot of time there yesterday, but when I went to go check on him and take a break, he wasn't there! To my surprise, he had snuggled up into one of the porch chairs, and was curled up on a cushion. He picked the chair with the most sunshine, and was super adorable. I got my camera and took probably forty photos - I particularly loved the angle of the bright sunlight as it defined his white little whiskers, and the texture of his fur. Too cute!!

Today, too, as I began to make more order from the mess that has been my home this last week, I thought about life as art. About how I choose to live in my space. Now this isn't the realm of deep philosophical or metaphysical stuff...that is the stuff of my inner life, for sure. But in my home, I choose to live artfully. Not fancy, not expensive, not terribly particularly. But in ways that express the color of my soul. I love this! I am not choosing to follow any fashion trend, nor any fancy, exclusive interior design style. I'm not going for any "look" or anything. But what I have managed to create in my space is some kind of bohemian whimsical art. The art of living, indeed. I love the thought that all arenas of my life can be expressed and experienced as the art of living. My spiritual life, my work life, my home life, my relationships. All are art! And I have had these wild and fun visions of painting murals on the doors of each room. Since I'm not a gifted or experienced painter of representational art, it's guaranteed to be somewhat childlike if it's not a mess. But I'm okay with that. I've already had a blast in my previous forays into painting the walls - from the wavy divisions between contrasting colors, to the sun on the wall of the living room (sadly covered by a bookshelf now), to the massive tree painted in the hallway. What's next, that's the question...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Moving On

Aaaahhh. The last night in my house as a single inhabitant. Tomorrow Alan moves in, and I begin the journey of living with a roommate. It seems like exactly what needs to be happening in my life right now.

Alan is an ideal roommate, I think. We know each other pretty well, but aren't best friends. Less likely to drive each other crazy, I think. Also, we have been communicating very well as this whole process has come about. I hope that will continue, so that we can both live happily in this small-ish space. Also, best of all, Alan loves Friday kitty like no other. Other than me, of course. Honestly, though, if I were to die, I would want Alan to take Friday - it is a perfect match. And having a scenario where Friday kitty gets even MORE love than he does now is really great!

The poor little guy is probably very confused right now. He spent the evening under my bed as I steam cleaned the carpets. The only thing worse than the noise of a vacuum cleaner is a steam cleaner! And Friday HATES the vacuum. I hate it that he has been hiding like that, but he's surely in the quietest, safest place for him while all that noise is going on. What will he do tomorrow when I steam the carpets in that room, I wonder? For now, he has come out of hiding, and is wandering around the house, rubbing his soft body against the endless stacks of stuff. How's that for making friends with chaos? Oh, my little Buddha cat, teaching me yet another piece of transcendental wisdom. =)

I'm told that tonight there will be a major meteor shower, and I wish I had the stamina to stay up and stare at the sky. But it's getting cold out, and I got up at 6am to go to DC by 9am, and then taught flute lessons, and then spent the whole evening cleaning my carpets. I'm pretty much beat about now. Maybe I will go crawl up on the roof for a little while and commune with the sky and some sacred tobacco.

It hit me tonight as I was sitting on the toilet that I am getting used to living without Familiar kitty in my life. And I spoke those words to him, as if he were with me. I kind of feel his presence there with me in the bathroom where he died sometimes, and it doesn't freak me out as much as it did a few weeks ago. I miss him still, and I feel like my life will never go back to the way it was before. But I am starting to feel that my life is going on in spite of the sorrow. And of course it does, of course it must. Sometimes I think that that is the hardest part...knowing that life does go on in spite of the pain and suffering of loss. It almost feels like it shouldn't - it's not fair to go on living without the ones I love! But I also can acknowledge that thinking like that just brings more suffering. All I can do is breathe into the pain and watch as my own life lives itself beyond that dark shadow that death has cast upon my heart.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I'm too tired to write much tonight. But the blessing is that there is movement within me. It comes from a place of not knowing what will be, but of coming up for air after a long, long time in the water. I don't know what life is, what the point is, or what it's all about. I may never know. But for tonight, I am feeling a little more okay with that. Thank god for my tribe, and for coming together in full honesty and openness and authenticity. THIS makes life worth living.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I'm sitting here in my bed, right next to Friday, who has claimed one flannel-covered pillow for his own. He's purring and not purring, off and on, and looking up toward the ceiling. Something is in the attic, skittering around. Sounds like a squirrel, too big for a mouse. Right around the time that Familiar kitty was passing, I heard squirrels in the attic - or on the roof, not sure which - all the time. I haven't heard any for a few weeks, though, not until the last couple days. Friday looks so puzzled, his eyes following the skittering beyond the ceiling. I wonder how they get in there!

In the midst of the darkest week I've had in a long time, I did manage to get to yoga class...not one, not two, but three. In spite of the anger and frustration and sadness that have been the most prevalent emotions this week, there is some little voice within me that says, "hey, this used to really be good - do it now!" I'm going to trust that, and also have no expectations.

Yesterday, one of my dismal posts on Facebook asked what people thought life was about. One man replied that life is about learning through suffering. His words hit home right away. I seem to recall that his kitty passed the day before Familiar kitty - so he is surely going through some of the same feelings I have. Learning through suffering. I've sure been feeling the suffering part, but I have wondered all day what it is that I'm learning here...or resisting learning...

One thing that I am clearly resisting learning is that fingers are for loving kitties...not typing! Friday has relocated to my right knee, pushing my keyboard off to the left, and keeps insisting his head under my typing fingers, clearly showing me what really matters. Bless this being. Bless him. He is the best teacher I've got right now, that's for sure. He's given me a reprieve for the moment, and has moved on to licking my hand as I write here.

Suffering. Everything and everyone that I love will leave, die, fall apart. That is the very truth of living, and the very truth of suffering. The more I love, the more pain I will feel when the loving is interrupted. So, there's a part of me (and I doubt I'm alone here) that says "fuck it! What's the point anyway?!" Why love if it's going to hurt so much later. But the truth is that I feel things really big, really deeply. And I've done enough intense, deep spiritual work that there's no turning back now. There's no shutting the door to my heart. It just doesn't make sense, it's no longer an option. And in the reality of that, suffering seems to be the only option. And I think the reason I've been feeling so angry this week is that that really sucks! So, the more I open my heart, the more pain I'm going to feel. Great. Check please...

Today as I was driving in the pouring rain in Baltimore - feeling supremely bitter and pissed off - I thought of two things. First, if life is nothing more than waking up, eating, pooping, and sleeping again, with maybe a bit of working for money thrown in, then FUCK IT! I'm not playing anymore. I will lay in bed all day and piss myself and shit my pants and starve first. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But what's behind that madness and anger is outrage - that I demand that life be more than this, that I absolutely insist that my life have meaning. And that's probably a blessing - the energy of anger pushing through the murk of sorrow. Second, the thought came to me that in spite of the devastation of experiencing death steal away the life of my little buddy while he was in my arms, I have not died. And there is part of me that feels guilty for that, that while my little kitty is gone from this world forever I am here, and am supposed to continue living. But besides that guilty part that feels like I shouldn't go on living, that I should lay in my bed and shit my pants until I die too, there is another part that says, "hey, I'm still here..." and wants to LIVE out loud, fully, richly, just like I always have. One voice says, "shit, get over this, you're wasting your own sweet, precious life!" And another says, "this pain is so deep, you will never survive it."

And beyond those voices and those feelings, there is the sunrise and the sunset, and rain and wind and clouds and starlight, and sunshine. And there is a Magnolia tree watching over the decaying body of a being that was once my dear friend. And that dear friend is probably still lingering somewhere nearby, waiting to show me what I'm supposed to learn next from this whole ordeal.

He came to me in my dreams three nights in a row this week. Once, I was in a high school classroom, with other people who I went to high school with - and there he was, trying to squirm out of my arms, trying to get out into the hallway and explore. Another dream, I was obsessing about his losing weight and being super skinny. I can't recall the other one, exactly. But what was so lovely was touching him - the sensation of having his body in contact with me - that has been what I have longed for and missed so desperately. In spite of all the esoteric teachings - and my own experience - that say that the body is only a shell for the Spirit, it is my full experience in this reality that I relate to other beings by touch, by speaking, by sight and sound - through the physical senses. That is so hard to let go of.

So, what am I learning here through this suffering? A question to continue pondering...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feeling Lost

I don't like spending time with the dark parts of myself. I am a being who is usually very much drawn to the light. I'm not talking about day and night here, but inner realms and experience. I am not drawn to negativity, pessimism, depression, or hopelessness. Not that I don't experience them in my life, because surely I do. But I am naturally drawn to joy, optimism, love, and effervescence. Angela "Blueskies" is hugely fitting to the state of being that is most natural to me. But it's been quite a while since I inhabited those states of being on a regular basis. My name right now may as well be Angela "Thundercloud."

Anger has been barging its way into the hopelessness and sadness these last few days. At first, I thought it was coming along with my cycle, the usual anger and aggression that often accompany it. But this has lingered and intensified. There is a track in my mind that feels like a tiger, waiting silently, patiently to strike to kill anyone who crosses me in the slightest way. This part imagines confrontations, and imagines scenarios and outcomes that involve tremendous violence in words and actions. Now, I haven't been acting upon any of these scenarios, but I have been watching them, especially these last couple days. I haven't even seen any point in leaving the house. It seems that when I do, unbelievably frustrating things happen.

The question that has been a recurrent mantra in my mind has been "what is the fucking point of any of this?!" I feel like a hamster stuck on a wheel, or at least in a little shitty cage. But I KNOw that I'm that hamster, stuck on a pointless fucking wheel, inside a prison of a shitty cage, and I KNOW that there's more outside of it, and yet I can't seem to find the way.

I have experienced firsthand - in ceremony and in meditation and in community - the most incredible beauty in this world, in this life. I have felt the sublime power of love. I have felt held in the womb of Mother Earth. I have seen things I couldn't have ever believed, and felt things that called into question everything that I have ever known. And in spite of all of that, the death of Familiar kitty has marked life with a heavy darkness. And part of that darkness has disconnected me from those truths that come from living in the Light. I remember them as a novel right now...characters and scenes from a life that are bound to the page, yet not my own.

I posted a question on Facebook the other day: "What gets you out of bed in the morning?" The answers that I received were depressing beyond my imaginings. I also had included an aside to that question, "besides the alarm clock or coffee," hoping to suggest I was looking for the *meaning* of getting out of bed in the morning. Not once person who answered went there. The answers? The dog, the cat, the kid, hunger, needing to pee. And honestly, these are the things that I have been feeling in my life, lately, too. Never before have I felt like I got out of bed for food or a piss. I got out of bed because the light of day pulled my spirit into the world to LIVE. But right now, I am feeling that I, too, get up to eat, poop, and sleep again. And after living my life from a place of intense meaning and connection, living with these things as my drives is the most devastating thing I have ever known.

I cannot wake up in the morning and get out of bed if all there is to my life is eating, pooping, making money, and sleeping again. If that's all there is, then let me die right fucking now.

I already know, somewhere deep inside of me, that there is way, way more to life. But when I try to go there, it's as if I'm dumb or something. Like the part of me that knows that has been blocked off somehow. And yet the question, the longing remains. I know that a new pair of fuzzy boots is a great thing, but it doesn't give meaning to my day. Stuff doesn't give meaning to my day. Material things don't give meaning to my day. Their absence can be a pain in the ass, for sure - as it was tonight, when I discovered that the tape deck in my car no longer works, and that is what I use to play my Ipod - but that's not living and dying. It's a fucking tape deck. And the boots are fucking boots. I also know that getting rich and buying a fancy car and house won't give meaning to my life. It's just more stuff that might make me "comfortable" and make me feel "abundant" but it's essentially just more garbage.

What about finding a partner and having a family? While these things certainly do add some sense of meaning to life, undoubtedly, and provide some sense of structure to daily living that is rooted in living communally, when it comes down to it, unless the deeper meaning of life is clear first, these things just become another path toward material living. Getting the right stuff for the couple, getting the right stuff for the kid. And good god, raising a kid in a material paradigm? That makes me want to die, too...

Anything external, really, is guaranteed NOT to add meaning to life. Those things are just distractions. It's the inner stuff that really gives meaning to my day. And it's relationships, too, the ways that these inner worlds of people (and animals) come together and create the world together. And right now, I am feeling betrayed by that. All those years of loving, and one day it's all gone. It's as if it never happened - except in my heart, that is. How is that fair??? When I go down this track of thinking, then I feel like there's no point to life at all, we're just waiting around to die. And it's no fucking wonder that all the religions have made up things like "heaven." That's the greatest comfort ever, believing that at the end of the line, we'll be reunited all together in one big angelic party, with harps and clouds and that crap. I don't buy it for a minute.

The Buddhists really do lay it all out with no bullshit. Change happens constantly, and there is no external God to believe in. All we can do is accept that everything is going to fall apart, and love in spite of that, with as much compassion as possible. Life is going to pull the rug out from under us again and again. And eventually, it will be our very own body that has the rug pulled out from under it. As much as I try, I can't find anything in that that encourages me to embrace a spiritual path even more fully than before. If anything, I feel inclined to come back to my original question: "what's the point anyway?" I don't buy into any of that heaven and angels crap, and haven't since I was a child. The coddling of religion offers me no solace at all. But I have been spiritually motivated for years - right now, I can't even feel connected to that.

Well, at least I am walking in circles with the question...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Moving Through

I'm feeling tired, but stirred up. It's been a quiet, rainy day, and even now, I can hear the rain falling on the roof outside. I love rainy days. And I am grateful to have spent most of this one in my house, working on making sense of the mess that has been created as I'm making room for Alan.

The worst part of today? Remembering Familiar kitty's sad little weak body suffering on this day five short weeks ago. I ended up in a slump on my bed, burying my face in the pillow, weeping. And right there beside of me was sweet Friday, letting me hold him so tight, not complaining a bit. He didn't mind that I squeezed him like a teddy bear for probably twenty minutes, and didn't care a bit that once the pillow was wet, I buried my face in his soft fur, making it damp, too. And I was so grateful for him, this sweet being who exists just to LOVE! I don't care if I sound like a cat lady. I love this kitty so much. I love him more every day. And right now, I don't know what I would do without him.

Once I felt the sadness recede, I began to work on the next stage of organizing and cleaning and moving things around. Today was a furniture move day, and I have gotten most of what needs to happen finished. One more thorough day, and that room will be clear for Alan. What remains to be done is installing shelves in the closet in the music studio, and really making the most of that space. That, and the basement! There's a good bit of stuff ready to go down there now, but I need to make some more room first, and rearrange things there, too...

It's good to have something like this in my life...major changes have been coming, and they have been overwhelming. But this change, this change in my living arrangement, is one that doesn't feel like it is happening to me, but is instead one that I am engaging in. I am peeling away the layers in my house, and rearranging things as necessary, and as I like. Getting rid of stuff, too, is good. It's not going anywhere fast right now, but the piles of things to go to Goodwill are sizable, and there are things that need to go to the dump, too. A good purge in my house is long, long overdue.

I've been feeling called back to the Medicine, and in particular, back to Santo Daime. There are some hesitations, too, though. I'm wondering if my nervous system is strong enough to handle that kind of experience right now, or if it could make things worse. Especially given the interference I have experienced in this group, I am hesitant. If I knew that I could just go and allow my experience to unfold freely without people trying to talk to me in the midst of it, or trying to control the situation too much, then I would probably go. I have some darkness to face, some fears and a lot of sorrow. But it seems that the time just isn't right yet. That's fine. I can wait until the time is right.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Coming Apart at the Seams

Sitting here on this quiet night, a sweet kitty resting his head on my right ankle as I type. The window is still open just a couple inches, ushering in fresh night air on this relatively warm evening. In this moment I am feeling calm and fine. What better thing could I ask for on this sweet night than peace and quiet, and a companion to share it with?

Throughout the day, though, I have felt like I am on a roller coaster. From anger to defensiveness to judgment to resentment to devastation to sadness to despondency. Yes, my cycle has begun, and the emotional upheaval will settle. But the truth is that each of the things that have sent me on this wild ride hold a kernel of truth in them, and point me toward something that is unsettled inside of me.

Today I went with Lynn to see the new house she will be renting after the settlement on her house is complete. Another ten days, no more. And as much as I wanted to know where to find her, and to help her move a few things, it was so sad to go there. The reality of her leaving the neighborhood really hit me in the gut. And I thank god that I moved in across the street from her almost eight years ago...she has blessed me in more ways than I can ever, ever imagine. The thought of not saying a daily hello, sharing hugs and tea and joys and sorrows, talking to the trees... Well, it sure is going to be a challenge to not loathe the new neighbor who is pushing her out. We sat on her porch after the movers left, and chatted in the overcast afternoon light. Train tracks nearby...that's almost like Oella. And big trees, and the house is nice enough. But it's a boring, soulless neighborhood. You can hear the noise from the highway nearby, and there is no character to the neighborhood. Just a street with houses on it, and people doing what people do everywhere. The thought of her being tucked away in that place, behind so many warehouses and industrial areas, and in the line of airport traffic... Well, perhaps for her, it will be exactly what she needs for now. But for me, I know I would wither. I am learning that there are two key components in a place to live for me - community and connection with Mother Earth. From there, there is no forest or river or lake close by. And a sense of community is surely much, much more than people passing each other on the street, living in tolerance of each other from behind their own doors from their own private property...

It seems that these requirements are no longer a part of what is considered a basic human need... People choose a place to live based on a whole different set of values. I wonder if the person who is buying Lynn's house looked beyond the charming house with a wooded lot behind? Or is it all about the property? People seem to want walls and land, and not really consider the bigger picture. As for me, I don't give a damn if I ever own a house. But I know I need to be able to be in the woods without much effort, and I need a real sense of community. Otherwise, I see nothing that makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning. Really.

Change just keeps on coming. Tomorrow marks five weeks since Familiar kitty passed. Lynn will be leaving in a week. My bamboo flute is done for. What next??? How is it possible to surrender to the flow of life when I feel like the river is going to drown me in this madness of change? Must I live in a constant state of distress, wondering what will be next...who will die, who will leave, what will break or be taken...on and on and on... I don't want to live with that kind of thinking. But it is what I am feeling in my life at the moment. Hence the despondency that filled my evening tonight. I feel like any move I make into trying to enjoy life is only a thin veil covering the hopelessness I feel right now. Everything is coming apart at the seams. My very reality is coming apart at the seams.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Coming Up For Air

This Monday has been way better than last Monday. Last week, my cell phone wasn't working, my bamboo flute was found destroyed, and everything seemed to go wrong. Today has been pretty good, overall. Once more, in the school in DC, doing programs about holidays - today was about prankster holidays: April Fool's in the US and Dia de los Inocentes in Latin America. What fun, singing with the kids! And on the way home, I decided to do a little shopping - this only happens about twice a year, and I made the most of it. It wasn't too awful, but I did leave with a headache. Bummer, two headaches in two days...

And it is surely days until my cycle begins, too. Headaches before that make sense. I have also been noticing that there is an aggressiveness in my mood these last couple days. Another sure sign. Add to that the fact that my skin has gone nuts, and I am surely in the thick of hormone soup! The aggressiveness is an interesting piece of it, though. Before I get my cycle, I often feel like a wild warrior woman, ferocious and strong...almost like I could rip into a leg of some dead animal, and eat it raw. Not that I would, being vegetarian and all! But there is something in me that kicks into fierceness right before my cycle comes. I find my mind wanting to respond in a defensive way, if not downright antagonistic. I don't often let this come into play with others, but it is certainly interesting to watch!

I am sitting here, now, in my soft, comfy bed. Last night I put on the flannel sheets, and fluffed up the feather bed and down comforter. What a soft, cozy nest! Add to that the best little golden kitty Friday, and I could happily never leave home again. I love him more every day. His uber loud purring is rumbling here next to me, and he has snuggled up next to my leg, to be as close as possible as I write. Thank god for this kitty! What a blessing he is in my life.

I feel like I am coming up for air. I feel like the darkness has plateaued for now. In spite of the fact that I wanted to invite it to go deeper within me, perhaps facing it in that way was what needed to happen in order to bring some surrender to the whole state of being. Things are shifting around. Alan will move in soon, my house will no longer be all my own. I am opening my life up to new possibilities. Tonight I went to a new Kundalini yoga class in Baltimore. I am not feeling so thoroughly haunted by death right now. I feel its presence in my life, for sure...but I feel like it has stepped back a little for now. In spite of the fact that I have been feeling the dark presence of death in my life for so many weeks now, there is still something in me that wants to live. And not only to just live day by day, going through the motions. But to LIVE out loud, to live deep and rich and full. Maybe the presence of death has refueled my desire to live. To really live.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


It's been plenty of days since I last sat on the porch to do my blogging. And today is stunningly beautiful! It's probably almost 70 degrees, and not a cloud in the sky. I love it! I am feeling a walk in my future, maybe in the woods, maybe to Main Street along the trolley trail. Feet and breathing and a beautiful fall day with almost all the leaves off of the trees...mmm...

I'm also noticing this remarkable transformation of the Magnolia. Last Sunday I went to offer Familiar kitty some blessings underneath her beautiful boughs. The cones were still fuzzy and pink, but the red seeds were beginning to emerge, little jewels in the velvet. Today, the cones are looking brown and studded with these bright red dots! I wish I had been able to watch it emerge day by day. But I am grateful to have even been able to watch her transformation this much! Never before did I know the cycles of Magnolia.

In spite of the fact that my house is a mess and I have lots to do, and in spite of the fact that I had a fun night in Baltimore last night with Michael, I have been finding myself feeling a bit lonely this morning. Especially after last Sunday's brunch! It's so nice to have a gathering in my house, to bring people together in an informal, chill gathering and just see what emerges. I am forever more in awe of the changes that I am observing within myself. I am finding that I really am no longer a loner. I'm also finding that in spite of the fact that I am feeling ready to be in a love relationship with someone who's really on the same page, I am not at all wanting to be absorbed into that whole dynamic of "cult of pairs" as Michael calls it. Sure, that kind of intimacy is necessary for any relationship to thrive, but I am longing for the kind of connection that is bigger, too. Community. And anyone who comes into my life, romantically, needs to be interested in the same thing. Coming together to come together in a bigger way. Partnership is what I crave. Not just a lover. Not just someone to be entertained by or with. Someone who can stand strong beside me, and who is ready to see how the power of two can create even bigger togetherness and power and love in this world.

Is that really too much to ask?

I was talking with Michael last night, and one of the funny things that crossed my mind is that it would be an awesome experiment to somehow go on 100 dates with different men. Keeping myself open for real possibilities, and keeping the idea of a fling totally out of the picture. It was inspired by Dancing Lodge a few weeks back, when we were dancing in pairs, and kept changing partners every couple of minutes. It was amazing to feel how the energy and dynamic between each pair was so different! The ways we came together, sometimes playful, sometimes mirroring each other, sometimes completely out of sync - these were incredible ways of relating that were utterly nonverbal. And *this* is the heart of what would make going on 100 dates so interesting. To "practice" showing up authentically with new people, to experience the difference in dynamic between myself and so many others, and to seriously stir the pot.

This stunning day beckons, and I must answer that call.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Continuity and Change

Today has been a good day so far! I'm currently sitting at City Cafe in Baltimore, one of my longtime coffee shop haunts. I just had a haircut with Kenny, who has been pretty much exclusively cutting my hair since I was 19. That's 14 years! His work is wonderful, hands down. And as we were saying our goodbyes, I felt moved to offer him gratitude for his being one of the constants in my life when there has been so much change.

I remember sometime last year Ali saying to me how nice it was to have history with each other. At the time, it hadn't really ever crossed my mind, but her words resonated strongly within me. It *is* really nice to have history with people! Especially given that there is so much change in life...especially in my own life lately. With the truth of things being that change is the only thing that doesn't change, it feels overwhelming to me that anything can be gone without any notice. But when things do show up over and over again over so many years, there is something deep and sweet that grows. A sense of belonging. A sense of connectedness. And I love that.

There were years and years when it seemed that in spite of my best intentions to have peaceful, dependable relationships with people, there was always some kind of conflict erupting. It seemed like every year someone major in my life would either move away or there would be a conflict between us, and the friendship would come to an end. Add to that a few major breakups and the pain that followed. For years, it seemed like there was a revolving door on my life, and nothing would settle. The truth was more that I wouldn't settle. And I wanted friendships on my terms. Sometimes those terms were entirely agreeable. Those people have been around for the long haul. But sometimes those terms were not part of the agreement, and I just couldn't understand what was wrong. I get it now...

I am super grateful for the ways that Madre Ayahuasca has shown me these things, and asked me to clean up my life. No more loose ends, no more unresolved conflicts...even when there is no fixing, it seems that now there is no inner conflict that allows things to linger on and on. I am grateful that I have been asked to go within myself and see my own patterns, my own bullshit, and to see the truth. And I am willing to continue this work for as long as I live.

I now see that the revolving door of friends and loves was just a part of my spiritual practice starting to take root. I can love anyone. I can talk to anyone. But those people who I will form the most powerful and intimate relationships with need to resonate with my path. What a blessing, now my life feels so full of exactly that. I have a TRIBE of souls all over the world who resonate with this path. And even better, I have a TRIBE of souls right here at home who also resonate with this path, and who seem to want to share that in our daily lives. It's still not as much as I'd prefer, but I'm working on it. =)

What's been so hard for me lately is knowing the truth of change. Of feeling just how easily my reality in this world can be ripped apart, and there is no going back to the way it was. There is no normal. There is only what is right now. And god, that hurts so much. I have been feeling lately like there is no point to even trying to love life with death haunting me as it has. But in this moment of clarity, I am understanding that the truth of change is even MORE of a reason to love more deeply, commit more thoroughly, and to be exactly who I am in the midst of all of that. Life goes by so fast. Maybe if I wasn't on the spiritual path that I'm on, it would be possible to sink into the shallow waters of living in illusion, chasing material pleasures, and fulfilling all the statuses that are available to fulfill. But I KNOW in my bones that none of that matters. There's no un-learning what I have learned. And now, I see even clearer than before that nothing lasts. Nothing. Not my surroundings, not the people and animals in my life, nothing stays the same. Even my own body changes every day, and will one day no longer exist.

I know that I am not at the bottom of this well yet. I know there is deeper to sink into this truth. I am willing to go there, with all the darkness that accompanies it. But I also am committed to knowing what life *is* beyond intellect and philosophy. I want to sink all the way into this murk of not understanding the point! I want to make myself available for death to reveal to me what the point of life is. I already feel it being revealed in my body, but just ever so slightly. I don't want to push it, just so that I can feel happy again. It will take as long as it takes. I am willing to wait in order to really know more fully.

It's tricky...there are people who want to fill in the blanks for me, for sure... People always want to share their knowing and their wisdom and their philosophy. And there are times for sharing those things, absolutely! But right now, I know that I am ripe for the Universe revealing these answers to me directly.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Changing my Space

Today has been a day filled with impatience. I awoke early with lots of ideas for how to begin clearing out the space that will become Alan's room and bathroom, and decided to tackle the bathroom. Before 10am, I had cleared out the medicine cabinet, the under sink cabinet, and the linen closet. What I had was a whole lot of stuff that needed a new home, and not a lot of clear ideas on where it would go.

I spent some time measuring, and determined that I would probably do best to get a new cabinet of some kind for my bathroom. For so long I've had an old night table in there, one that was painted kelly green, and had been gifted to me. It was fine for holding towels, and also had a little drawer. But it wasn't going to be enough to hold all my first aid, toiletries, and towels. In addition, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to make the most of the little nook behind the bedroom door. I figured that I could add three shelves there and turn it into a second closet of sorts. What will live there? I have some ideas. Extra linens, for sure, and blankets. The overflow of towels. The plethora of bags that I've managed to acquire - some girls love shoes, for me it's bags! Who knows what extra stuff will end up in there, too, but it will be a good use of space, especially now that I need to be more mindful!

One of the added bonuses of going through this process of reorganizing my space is purging. Getting rid of what I don't need or want. Part of what is tricky here is figuring out what to do with some things that can't go to Goodwill. What do I do with an old electric toothbrush that is in perfect shape? Or shoe polish? Or the odd pieces and parts of things that I still have and use - with the exception of those odd pieces and parts. I have a hard time just deciding to toss things in the garbage. I know that those things will end up in a landfill, and will become just one more thing in the huge heaps and piles of garbage that are mounting in epic proportion on this planet. And as much as I don't want to hold on to useless crap, I really don't like the idea of throwing away things that someone somewhere might have a use for. I guess there's always Freecycle...

So, today I rendered my green bathroom livable in a new way, and cleared out the pink bathroom. There's more to do. Tomorrow, I will hopefully be able to install these shelves, and begin to optimize that space. Then, it will be time to tackle the closet in the music studio/healing room. I have an idea to move the cedar chest into the closet, making some more floor space available. That will necessitate me getting rid of a file cabinet and a bookshelf that holds a lot of music. It seems reasonable to build some shelves into that closet, too. Potentially two. I'm thinking it would be great to have one shelf that would hold all the music, and another that would hold some office stuff, like my printer/fax machine. Oh, the great blessing it would be to have all of that accessible but out of sight. I'm going to work on that this week, for sure.

What I am already seeing is more space in spite of the fact that I am moving stuff into less space. The top of both of my closets is pretty spacious right now. I even have some floor space in my bedroom closet. The basement is even more cleared out after I finally got rid of all the recycling. And surely, there will be some stuff that will end up down there in totes, if not on the landing. I finally got all my camping/trekking gear together into a single tote, for example! It's been all over the place for ages, and now it's all together. I love it!

One day at a time. Little by little.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

No Escape

Today, after a long and powerful acupuncture session, a bright rainbow emerged outside the window. The sky changed from blue and airy to a dark, bruised shade of gray, and there, in the midst of golden afternoon sunlight, this bright rainbow emerged. The light at the end of this dark tunnel for me? God, I sure hope so.

From the way that my acupuncturist, Star, described the treatment, it was basically a long process of clearing out energy, followed by a Chinese medicine version of the Soul Retrieval. I think she called it a "shin disturbance." And I was there for nearly two hours. What a blessing.

This summer in ceremony I found the part of myself that is just waiting for "it" to be "finished." I would find myself sitting in ceremony, which I had willingly and joyfully chosen to participate in, and there I would be, cringing and holding on for dear life, wondering when it would be over, bracing for the worst. And I would work to relax that reaction, calming myself down, reminding myself that there would be incredible wisdom in the process, and trusting that it would not kill me. Indeed, it didn't. And as has been the case so often in ceremony, what I learn within those sweet hours is infinitely important to integrate into the ways that I live in my daily life in the world.

All of this crossed my mind as I was laying there in the treatment room, with needles down my back. If this is ceremony - which ALL of life IS - what is it that I am being asked to learn and know and feel?

I am sitting with this in truth for the first time right now. What is it that this flatness and fear and meaninglessness and powerlessness are trying to teach me?

The first thing that comes to mind is how I am always looking for a way out. An escape. The part of me that believes there's an expiration date on how long suffering should last, or believes that I should be able to just push it aside. And god knows I have lived that way for much of my life! Fear is cowardly, sorrow is weak, and the rest of it is just plain inconvenient. But I know that these are merely harsh thoughts that don't want me to experience life as it is showing up. And the truth is that what is showing up right now is pretty damn persistent. Thank god there is acupuncture and massage and aromatherapy and Friday kitty! These things really do help. But the truth is this - I want out. I want to move on from the pain of heartache, but my nervous system just can't shake it all off so quickly. This sorrow that has come from the loss of a significant life companion will not pass with the sunset. And as long as I resist what is true, it will push back into my life. Can I honestly just show up and feel what I feel, let it exist for as long as it needs to? Today Star said, "what you are feeling is exactly what you need to feel." Wise words, words that I have often spoken to myself. But in the midst of a huge spin, these things seem too scary. And the more I withdraw from them, the more powerless I feel. The more powerless I feel, the more my mind reacts, and the more meaningless my life seems.

There is another part of my mind that has emerged in ceremony, too, that is involved here. The part that is afraid to be trapped on a hamster wheel, and says "oh, god, is this happening again? Will it always be this way?" This is another part that wants to flee, that feels like there is no growth, no change, no possibility. That part keeps wondering, will I always feel like this??? Will my heart always feel heavy, forevermore? And if it does, I just can't stand it!! But the truth is that change is always happening, I am never in the same place twice, and what will I do if it never, ever shifts...

The power comes in my choices. I can choose to accept exactly what I feel in each moment. I can choose to explore that with curiosity, and without labels. I can also choose to stay connected to the love and divinity beyond this momentary experience of discomfort. Instead of sitting around waiting to die, and waiting for everyone and everything around me to die, I can go dance or sing or play or watch the clouds in the sky. The truth is that I am dying in every moment, and so is everyone else! So???

I feel like the secret is in embracing my feeling in my body in every moment while not allowing the mind to dominate with its fears and imaginings for even one moment. Freedom to the body and heart, discipline to the mind...yes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Month

Wow, I actually can't believe that I missed writing two days in the last week. Sunday and Tuesday. Sunday, probably because I was involved in the Day of the Dead Brunch, and yesterday...well, not sure why. Perhaps because there's a lot on my mind, and it's sometimes easier to look away. I could feel the tendency wanting to emerge again tonight. The "oh, well, it's so late anyway, you may as well not bother." But here I am anyway. Showing up on the page.

Sweet Friday just made his way to my bed, where I am sitting to write this. He's perched himself on my left knee, and is purring away.

Today marks one month since Familiar kitty passed. It's unbelievable to me, still, though the reality of it is completely clear. What I am in touch with right now, below my own surface, is this darkness. This voice within me that says, "what's the point of anything. We're all just waiting to die." Isn't that a song by Gillian Welch? Well, it is haunting my spirit right now, and in spite of the fact that I am able to function and even experience some level of joy and goodness in my life, this undercurrent has become pervasive.

When the truth of death sits this close, I know that I can't help but come to confront all of my fears, all of my doubts, all of the ways that I make meaning in my life. There is the question in me, "what's the point of life?" And this is a question that I, in one way or another, have been asking for years. While I am deeply committed to living as fully consciously as I can, to facing my demons, and to keeping my heart open in the midst of great suffering, what I feel right now is a flatness, a flatness that has come from something within me not wanting to feel this much pain, trying to protect me. But it is only protecting me from the suffering of loss, not from the fears of the reality of death. I literally feel like just collapsing face down on the floor sometimes when this powerlessness comes over me...I am powerless to do anything in the face of the neverending flow of living and dying. Death is already at hand, and is sucking the juice out of living, too, for me right now.

There is such a pull to want to just get on with things. It comes from within me, and definitely comes from the outside too. Whether it's someone trying to smooth over the pain with some lofty spiritual philosophy, or with some lighthearted banter, no one wants you to feel sad and flat for long. It's a bummer. And I'm definitely going about my life, doing what I do. But what is the point of doing what I do, waking and sleeping, and eating and bathing, and all that other stuff that fills up the days? In spite of the truth that I KNOW there is more to life, that there is a true sweet divine order to the universe, and that I have tasted that sweetness firsthand in profound ways, right now, there is no sweetness. Well, there is this kitty on my knee...

I know all the good answers. Life goes on. I have to choose to make meaning in my life. Love is powerful. Tears are perfect. I've said all this a thousand times, and heard it thousands more. But I am driven by the truth of what I feel within, and what emerges within right now is some shade of gray, lying limply on the floor, wondering what it's all about.

I hear that question emerging over and over in my life right now. What's the point? I've long since given up any ideas that material gain is the point, that success and status and accomplishment are the point of life. And I have often felt that connection, love, community, peace, simplicity, and the like, are the point of life. Love is surely the point of life! But right now I just can't get back to that. These are merely intellectual concepts that don't have any hold in my current experience.

So, for now, I am going about my days, trying to live peacefully and simply. I would love to have my life back. Any day now, universe. Any day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bamboo Flute

I am so fucking angry I could kick a hole in a wall. Or rip a door off the hinges. As if the day didn't start bad enough with me slicing into my finger while trying to cut a bagel...gushing blood as I was already late getting out the got a hell of a lot worse when I got to the school I was working at this morning in DC.

My bamboo flute is cracked and split halfway up the body of it's tube, in four places. This is not the kind of cracking that happens with age and weather. This is from physical damage. It looks to me like someone stepped on it.

The last time I played it was last weekend at Ali and Forrest's potluck and fire circle gathering. And wow! What an amazing jam session that was. And it was probably that very night, while stumbling in the dark, that someone may have stepped on it, unknowingly. I don't remember leaving it in a precarious place, but it was dark, and there were lots of people around. It could have happened a few other times, too...but it really doesn't fucking matter what the details are, when it happened. At some point something happened, and it is severely damaged, and I am furious.

Patrick Olwell is the flutemaker. He used to come to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and I bought one of his flutes there. This one, though, was a gift from a student...and it became my favorite flute ever. It has been with me as I have travelled across four continents, it has been played in sacred places all over the world. It has been the voice of my soul, as Madre Ayahuasca has opened my creativity, and it has been my pathway beyond the rigid lines of classical music into the world of free musical expression, improvisation, allowing divine music to flow through me. Fuck!! I had just begun to seriously talk with John about doing a recording on this flute, too. Now what do I fucking do?!

Patrick Olwell doesn't make these flutes anymore. I called him a few years ago when a student of mine was wanting one, and he informed me that he only makes wooden flutes now. I dug out his phone number and email today, and have emailed him with my situation. I don't know what to do...I can only hope that he can either miraculously fix this one, or maybe he still has a few old ones still in his shop, or maybe I can convince him to make me one.

You know, if someone stepped on my expensive, fancy silver flute, I would probably not give two shits. But this one...why this one?! And seriously, world, how much more of the most important things in my life must I give up right now??? First Familiar kitty, now this flute? I can't think of a lot of things that mean more to me. If something were to happen to Friday, I would say fuck it all and join the peace corps.


Inside a hostel in Cusco, Peru