Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In Summary...

Help.

I've been such a fan of "Super Soul Sunday", watching it with my trusty journal as I let myself learn and re-learn wisdom from some amazing speakers. Recently I watched an episode where Anne Lamott was featured, talking about her new book (which I have not read), but I was so inspired by her comment about the "three essential prayers": Help, Thanks, and Wow, realizing that much of 2013 can be summarized in those three prayers.

I need help.

Help.

Help me.

That's where the beginning of 2013 took me. I took this year to be quiet, to break away from virtually everything that took me away from my family or deep healing from old stories. As 2012 was coming to an end, I was given a message that it was time for me to take a break. I didn't know what it was going to look like per se, but I knew that I needed this time to just process with my training, my healing, coming back to roots of dreams that were waiting for the cobwebs to be wiped away... what I got instead was something bigger, tastier, bitter, fearful and beautiful... it's funny how we can dance with various vibrations that both lift us and purge us.

My husband had been laid off back in the spring of 2012, though finding some seasonal work with a family friend, that ended in November, and as we approached the colder months, I believed he would find something sooner than later. That didn't happen. And it was heavy, as only those who have been through this can understand, it's painful, and the judgments that you inadvertently wear from others is so thick and messy, you begin to wonder which is yours and which is another.

I officially began my break at Imbolc (February), and I let myself just dive into my practice. Despite the uncertainty of no finances coming in, my practice strengthened, though it felt like other components were weakening, later to be discovered so I could learn something big: how to ask for help.

I didn't share why I was taking a break, except for a couple of close friends, mainly because these particularly people became my rocks while I silenced everything else. They were my support when words began to trickle down about where I "really" was... stories of my impending death (oh yes, physically withering away... *sigh*), or how my husband and I were in a bitter divorce battle... or how my daughter was in the middle of a vicious custody battle... the stories went on and on. I laughed at first, because I often equate my presence as being so quiet that I have this belief that if I disappear no one would notice. I was proven otherwise, both in beautiful and ugly ways. Then I was upset, or angry... or pissed off. Maybe all three. I was shocked at the stories people can come up with, when there's no evidence to support it. I was angry that these ridiculous things were being spread, but I was guided to still not speak about it. These close friends did their best to correct them, but sometimes the stories are more important and entertaining than the truth. In that case, any amount of correction is meaningless, and you still have to plug on.

I then reached the hurt phase. Didn't people know me at all? And if things were really that bad, then why wouldn't someone reach out? Why wouldn't someone call me, asking if I was okay? Asking if we needed anything? People who I thought understood didn't. This surprised me. People in my community, those I considered confidantes, they held onto the stories instead. Believe it or not, I understood. I did. It's easier to hold onto a story than to confront, or be witness to someone's journey, be it painful or not. If you ask someone how they are doing then you are taking responsibility to bear witness to their process, and sometimes we're not ready to bear witness, but culturally we've been brought up to be respectful and ask, even when the answer isn't one we're prepared to receive, or hold space for.

So, in that context, I understood. Still, it hurt. I hurt. Those things weren't true. Farthest thing from the truth. The interesting component was that despite the uncertainty and extreme discomfort due to my husband being out of work, we didn't pull away from each other, instead we did the opposite: we got closer. In some ways we had to -- the support around us was minimal. There were heavy judgments, accusations, and insults laid before our feet. Some of it I ate up, believing I deserved it in some way, some I viciously threw away, but it told me the truth that when times are tough, you begin to understand who will be there for you, and who won't. Of course this isn't to say that it would forever be this way. Some can't be there for you because they are in their own course of life that they need to be with their own needs. Some are too afraid to be there, and some don't want to. I was amazed that I could hold all those parts without malice, well, without much malice. I admit there was a couple individuals that I felt "should" be there for us, and they were, just not in the way I wanted, though inevitably it was in ways I needed, in a roundabout kind of way...

Earlier this year when I emerged from the Bear Cave, my dreamtime revealed that I needed to surrender and trust... so I did. As I did, I was reminded how important it is to ask for help, so I asked, in small ways, in big ways, when it was uncomfortable, when it threatened my pride, when it made me feel weak...

A funny thing happens when you lean into the things that make you uncomfortable: you become stronger.

Thanks.

Part of my daily practice is gratitude work. I have, or had, a particular gratitude stone that I had worked deeply in my practice. It started off with me holding it, rubbing it (it was nearly soft and smooth from so much use) and saying "thank you". It always started off with thank you. Then I would start to thank various things throughout my day: good sleep, bad sleep, family, my daughter's cranky pants, my husband not doing dishes when he said he would, my bad attitude, my compassion, our health, his unemployment, my fear, our financial lack, our abundance, bills that began to pile up, working vehicles... the list went on and on. It wasn't about changing the bad into good, or making the good even greater, it was simply about pure awareness of what I had in my life, and could I be grateful for the things that felt horrible, or uncomfortable, or like they didn't serve at all, without changing it into some powerful lesson to convince me or to justify my gratitude for it? Could I actually do that?

I could, and I did. The result? It was powerful. I would laugh through some, "Thank you for a shitty night's sleep... Thank you for my neighbor sharing her cherry tomatoes (which were crazy good!)..." and I would cry over some, "Thank you for mortgage debt... Thank you for the uncertainty of financial security..." and I would feel the depth of my heart with others, "Thank you for a marriage that still works... Thank you for my ability to be honest with my daughter about our situation..." It may seem crazy to some, but there was beauty there, and healing.

I've never had a problem thanking others for a job well done, for their contribution, for their gifts, for their presence... but I realized that I hadn't quite learned to thank all circumstances, or even myself.

My gratitude stone has now lovingly been gifted to a sacred sister. I led a Gratitude Ritual where I obtained my new gratitude stone, one that has raggedy edges, and it is now teaching and initiating me into new layers of gratitude medicine.

Wow.

I had many "wow" moments this year... wow to connection... wow to my ability to say both "yes" and "no" when necessary... wow to surviving... wow to inspiring and being inspired... wow to love... wow to trust... wow to receiving and ALLOWING myself to receive... wow to being scared, and doing it anyway... wow to my husband receiving a job when we truly needed it to come... wow to my daughter being happy and healthy while receiving (and giving) love over material things any day...

Wow, wow, and wow.

No, I haven't read Anne Lamott's book, yet, but I get the essence of her concept of the three essential prayers, because this year that was my medicine, to put it mildly.

In summary, I have asked for help, and I have received it... I have offered thanks, and I have been thanked... I have been wow'ed, and I have wow'ed.

My medicine for the new calendar year? Freedom...

Faithfully Rising, Evolving, Experiencing Dharma, Oneness and Magick.

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Emerging through the Bear Cave

I've realized that for probably the first time in a while, if not ever, I don't know how to rewind. That's actually a good thing. I can reflect, but reflection isn't the same as rewinding. It doesn't hold the same essence of potential turmoil or self-doubt where the "what if" monster emerges her ugly head with tainted words creeping up the shoulder. It's not to say that the "what if" monster is gone, because she isn't. She's still there, but her role is taking on a more curious tone than she would have permitted before. She's been quiet during this seasonal time in the Bear Cave, as have I, and as Imbolc approaches, I feel the quickening steps of the light shining in the cave, and my eyes scrunch up from the deep sleep I've permitted myself.

This retreat time within the Bear Cave has been sensational. I have uncovered sooo much about myself in this secluded time, and my awareness is quite sharp, perhaps the sharpest it's been. In that sensationalism there were many observations as to how I respond to things --- how do I respond to support, for example? Apparently not well. Two dear people close to me had said that I don't know how to be supported, that I won't allow others to hold that space for me, that I can do it for anyone but won't accept it in return. My belly retracted from the unintended blow, and judgment peaked its head, wondering if I needed its presence. I didn't. They were right. I am honored to hold space for another, to be in that sacred source with them, but allowing another to do it for me? Even typing it out I'm both smirking and cringing. Smirking because I recognize my controlling nature in that if I'm not supported by the invisible manual I wrote then I won't accept it at all, and cringing because the controlling nature has such a nasty streak at times. The awareness is incredibly potent, and knowing what are the areas that need healing and tending to is powerful.

Last year I opted to simply journal by hand only, not sharing parts of the stories on this blog. Part of that was fear --- the exposure of becoming more recognized within various communities can be challenging to hold your own authenticity when the stories you're cast in can be enticing. Someone dear to me had cautioned me to not be so available and so vulnerable. I may have misread that in a fearful and frightened tone, or even in a disciplinary mentality, but I listened, probably because I wanted to. When we're scared we use excuses to hide... I use excuses to hide... used excuses. I hide less now from fear and simply give myself permission for personal retreating, there is a difference, and more than seeing it, I can taste the difference now. So I listened, but what I know for me is that sharing my vulnerability has purpose. The spirit and human nature are intertwined and they hold themselves in acts of sacredness and profanity. If I fall and you see it, I'm not going to pretend that fall didn't happen, I'm going to say whether it hurt or not, then either get back up and continue what I was intended, or stay put and pout a bit more. Both viable options, but I don't think showcasing one, or both, of these emotions makes me any less of a teacher/facilitator/healer/etc etc. It doesn't. If I don't give myself permission to be seen, how can I ask you to give yourself permission to do the very same thing?

Last year I spent much of my time training to distill my Light. Aside from the joking components of my brain feeling like a tangled mess, I just let myself do and be. In that doing and being my vision cleared up. In the vision clearing I saw where I sabotaged my dreams, where I ignored my truths, and where I thought I knew nothing, when in reality I knew so much more than I was giving myself credit for. Why do we do that? Why do we lessen ourselves? I turned the mirror and asked myself these same questions, and a thousand more that made me see who I was. I was reflecting...

A year of studying the Qabala and being knee deep in ceremonial practices took me on various journeys --- I traveled through the Tree of Life, purging from Malkuth until I entered Hod, where I found my inspiration, to Geburah where my senses relaxed and comfort emerged, to Da'ath where a long drive home (with pretend dementors, ha!) made me understand my "reality" in "illusion", to Kether, where the spirit download I received can never be expressed in words. Never. The climb up the Tree was... tedious... and sometimes fun... and sometimes boring... but always intriguing.

The Tree of Life also took me back to Buddhism, even deeper than I was before. I had a mild practice still working, though I put everything on the back burner to be fully immersed in the Qabala. I could feel the other parts of my spirituality tug at me to say "don't forget about me", and Buddhism was one of them.

It also took me back to my primal roots in Shamanism. My year in the Qabala taught me me a lot, but the biggest gift I received was the pure recognition of what my practice actually was. It wasn't ceremonial, but I appreciated our dance together.

Once the training was complete I began my journey into the Bear Cave. I took with me several items of comfort, like my Reality Map shawl that would continue to provide me the wisdom and teachings of many generations; my journal for all the introspective work I would be doing between the resting period; and my knitting, to keep that creative flow going. After all, the web wasn't going to weave itself.

Last year I went on a writer's retreat... probably one of the top 5 retreats I've ever been on. I am a writer. I bet you didn't know that. You didn't know it because I rarely say it. I rarely say a lot of things about myself and my practice. I let myself be me, stripped of titles, but also afraid of sitting centered in ego if I say things like "I am a writer". I'm not as concerned about that frivolous ego as I was before. It wasn't the go speaking, it was the fear. It's always the fear, the not-so-silent entity that I have recently discovered has a contract to push and control and disarm me. Even better, I wrote up the contract... no one sabotages us better than ourselves.

I am writing. I am praying. I am healing. I am knitting. I am creating. I am mothering. I am singing. I am chanting. I am resting... and many many more permissive acts of being and doing.

This month I retook my Refuge Vows which felt good. I needed to rededicate myself to my path and bring myself back into an aligned state of being. It's amazing what a year of changing your practice -- all by choice mind you -- to something you're uncertain will fit your needs can do to you. I know that I felt blank, like a blank canvas, just new and beginning, without sentiment of what would  happen next. I appreciated and even looked forward to the newness that I hadn't been experiencing in so long. But I also longed for my practice; the one where I felt at home and attuned.

Now in this emergence out of the Bear Cave what have I learned? What am I taking with me? I've learned that trust is a beautiful thing... and I still have some work on letting myself be immersed in it. I've learned that much of what I have received through the dreamtime is that I must surrender and trust, two things that challenge me and inspire me.

I'm taking me with me, and all the potent spirit medicine that was offered to me in that cave. And I'm taking the dialogue... the one that writes you. I'm writing and letting myself be written. That is magick.

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