Being a bridge and letting go of what isn’t mine. — the tortoise shell can go now.

I have a tender friendship and working relationship with an American artist and spiritual coach. I’m her editor — I sit with her words and feel the meaning, then scramble paragraphs around and rewrite until there is a flow that feels divine. This kind of partnering — her words and mine — brings me much joy. I’ve reworked several of articles for publishing, redid her book jacket and amazon listing, and am soon to edit her copy in the foreword of another writer’s book.

I love the art of editing.

This year, I’m welcoming opportunities to edit. More articles, yes, and this year I also see editing books.

I see early early mornings behind a glowing screen with a mug of rooibos tea beside me. I see my heart opening, my mind focusing, and my fingers doing the work of building bridges of understanding. I’ve known, for 7 years now, that being a bridge is part of my dharma — to help people connect better. Connect to their spirit, to lifeforce energy, to nature, to each other, and to their selves. I love this work.

I’ve also made a resolution to listen more, and to be seen without showing off (along with a few other intentions perhaps I’ll share later). To help people connect, I (we) have to listen with openness and vulnerability. To not project a belief or assumption of where someone stands or who they are, far before they’ve told me their story, just to speed into my turn to talk. That’s not listening. I resolve to open my heart and allow the truths of others to come in, while being seen in my true self.

If I can listen, then I can be the bridge of sharing truths so that others can understand better. So that others can see into worlds they do not yet know. (When I travel, it’s always been my great wish to share the scenes and stories before me with bodies who, for whatever reason, aren’t there.)

The author, Kellie J Wright, shares her journey of profound personal change in Internal Journeys: A Spiritual Transformation.

Last night, in the moonlit early morning of New Year’s Day, I opened her book randomly to a chapter called Have. She asks the reader if we possess things that aren’t ours. Beliefs, desires, objects that were handed off to us or that we took on — knowingly or unknowingly — and carry around as our own.

To become the fullest most natural and vibrant versions of our selves, we have to let go of what’s not ours. We have to make space for what is meant for us. And only what’s meant for us. For our now. For our endless stream of nows.

This is the last chapter of her book.

I chuckled reading it, and resonating with words I deeply believe. I carry judgments and bad habits picked up along my life that conflict with my core — light, freedom, joy.

I’ve worn a weighted tortoise shell of ideas I do not want and of a past story told with too much contempt and regret. I am ready, I feel, to let it go. I am making space for what should be, what could be, without it.

I shook my hands and wiped them clean, brushed the skin of my arms and legs down toward the earth, and then washed my hands and feet with water — all while declaring to god and life and the emptying house around me that I release what isn’t mine. Take it take it!

The only way to know what’s under that shell, is to peel it off. I am safe in the loving hands of life — there is no need to burden myself with armor if I’m always in this now.

Let’s see what comes.

Will my skin shine under the sun as I walk upon a warming earth each morning? I’ll know when to seek shade, or protection, for my being by listening to the knowing within. It’s always now. I don’t want to carry what appears to protect against (and prevent) the majesty of reality. Nope. Unburdened and light is my way.

What is yours?

Reach out if you’re listening. I am here.

I will listen and I will believe you. — a New Year’s resolution and a promise to a little girl.

As her blue ocean eyes peered into mine of bluish green, her blonde curls falling beside her face the way mine did when I was her age, I told her “If there’s anything you ever need to say, and you don’t feel safe or sure to tell anyone else, you can always tell me. I will listen to you, and I will believe you. No matter what.”

My parents never told me that, and they never did that. Listened, believed unconditionally, helped make sense of it all, and then act appropriately.

I am not this young girl’s parent. I am her aunt, but I did see her come into this world and that moment was one of my life’s most profound. Those early months were magic. I sang her to sleep some days with mantras. I felt her beating heart on my own while she curled her legs up to her chest and nestled into a similar shape on my own limbs and torso. There is a shared experience between us star children.

I worry about her and her ability to be listened to, and to be believed. I worry often that she won’t find ears for her truths.

As I dig for clues behind the current rage and contempt in my heart at the cruelty in this world, and the pain and problems and their denial to be seen within people who share my own blood, I find a deep yearning, simply, to be listened to, and to be believed.

I find that much of my harder to feel emotions are covering a deep despair over not ever being unconditionally believed. And if I am not believed, then am I really seen? How could I have had worth in the eyes of those who are supposed to hold me unconditionally, if I was not listened to fully and then loved no matter what.

I realize, as a child, that it was not safe in my world to share my full truth. People were uncomfortable if they knew the sadness, the abuse, the reality, of my life. It was only safe to share my victories, not my losses. So, I created a lot of wins, perhaps, just to have a voice. Being better than is far superior to being real. (I’m so sorry for those I hurt when I was trying to be better than you.)

By not sharing the darkness of what I was experiencing, I allowed the storytelling of shame to begin within my hiding mind. Shame grows wild in the secrets and stories we keep to ourselves. (Brené Brown can fill you in on that if you’re not up to speed.)

Looking back, shame was all around me as a kid. It was in the denied depression and resentments of my mother, the overeating overworking over-angry high standards of my father. It was in my blood. And it filled my household.

There were moments when efforts were made, despite its presence, for genuine redemption (glory glory hallelujah) but were covered quickly with a round of “tell us about your perfection, kid number 2” at the post-Sunday church Chinese buffet.

I saw shame also in the sad eyes of some of my friends, in the lower middle class houses I passed in a school bus. My family’s house looked nicer than most on the outside, with its big weeping willow tree out front and the pony out back, but the farmhouse was cluttered, and unfinished (for as long as I lived there) on the inside.

Instead of finding ways to understand, I found ways to escape. Turns out, I wasn’t alone.

There were so many of us sharing our selves with each other, with our harvest season joints and our fifths of very bottom shelf vodka purchased at the Cherry Lane, with a passing round of cigarettes to burn holes in our arms that would scar circles forever. I felt belonging and believed in that badge akin to a polio vaccine wound. I wore it proudly. I had my tribe. And then I overdid it, everything, and saw the havoc I could create with enough charisma and a willingness to please. But it felt good to escape nonetheless. So I kept on… and perhaps still do.

I can’t fault anyone for being who they are, and for having only the tools they have. I know well enough that we are all a product of where we come from and the emotions of those around us when we’re young. But… I can be wiser than that, and choose differently than that, if I try hard enough. I fear I’m not trying hard enough. But I am trying.

So I told that little girl, with the ocean eyes that look into my own with a unique blend of sadness and spirit and a bucket of absolutely horrible beauty behind them, and I tell her that she will always be believed.

If there is ever confusion in her mind of why she feels a way that seems different from what she sees acted out around her, or if she is hurt, or forced, or wild with expansion… I want her to know she can share it without fear of being shushed.

I wonder what could have been if I felt safe to share.

I don’t want that little girl to grow into a woman who wonders what could have been. I don’t want her to impress everyone. I don’t want her to be unsafe in her body, so unsafe to feel what she feels that she hides any abuses passed her way even after an accomplice dies. I hope that she never has those stories to tell me.

I know the blood that raised me also raises her, in part, so I must try to show her another way than denial and avoidance and forced perfection.

I will listen, and I will believe you.

And I hope that she doesn’t need me in the end. I hope that she has that at her home, where should always be her most safe place. But if not, I’ll be there. Just like I try to be, insist on being, for my own son.

And for anyone who needs to be believed, I am here. My resolution for 2021 is to find more ways to listen. There are other bodies out there needing ears for their truths.

therapy again [poem]

therapy is going well, we all agree 
I smoked twice today though, also true
finished off my self-medicating stash 
with a dance party to The Weeknd balanced
iPad recorded my efforts. head nod. 

two therapists, two paradigms of 
healing, and my own acknowledging
an intellectual mind loves to spar
with like minds, developing beings playing
nice to pay the bills. head nod.

I’m paying nothing either, save the
stories I may tell of this to them
they always want the juice, don’t they
I, too, offer a hefty pour of pain, pussy
struggles, parents, pay the bills. head nod. 

one says to dance it out, collagen 
for a leaky gut. note that its his karma, to deal 
with you. the other smiles more kindly
his own elephant still in some bits,
outside. sit with it, he says. head nod.

neither men take the whole truth, nor dozens 
who I paid before, yet they swallow some
mixed, shaken, and ground up and taken 
sipped on slowly, chewed with a note 
in the margin, time ticks on. head nod. 

see you friday on zoom? head nod.

god asks, do you trust me? [poem]

the purpose is experience what it is, is
self-realization, enlightenment, removal of the veil
who decided we needed this, light beings being

god asks, do you trust me?

humans in a mad mad world without rhyme in reason
searching and seeing while others do not care to look
how miraculous it may seem to not wear spectacles

envy not the sleeping sheep with their white fluffy wool
if you choose not to look, how could you see?
they’ll be back again, trust

here’s the secret, searcher (you already know it)
do the things that bring you joy, set me on fire
your passions are also mine

let go of knowing how. mind runs wild
confusion if you choose it, choosing to
cling to itself, not the self, fear

a dozen hands touched me, a being within being
bamboo, heaven on earth is here, on earth
god asked, do you trust me?

eight years cycles round, i honor conviction
oil on my face, lust for freedom in the heart
god asks, do you trust me?

i surrender, let us dance
god says we’ve work to do

terrified of the other mothering [poem]

i hurry rushing flushing bluster of nerves
i pause from stacking the tank tops on the shelf
behind the door of knotty pine, that slides, a bit rough on its track

stop
what am i doing? for whom and i changing what just was? who am i trying to be?

        my healing vacation of quasi-awakening in traumatic shifts of the self
        coming to a close. they’re already in the car. my mother driving him
        home to me, his mother
        an artist when he is away

i slide empty canvases and masterpieces just the same
inside a brown paper box awaiting life, when she comes again

since becoming a mother, i have been trying to find my other mother way
but no. i have to make my own way of mothering, because
i am terrified of the other mothering
the one without unconditional love offering freedom to be creative

        somehow there has to be space
        for art in momming
        it now is who-i-aming, so expand i must in my mothering
        i choose to make space for the artist, the child in a home
        without freedom to create, to be seen in her brightness and her glory

to the sweetness within my mothering
        i offer kindness to you, who will not be understood
        some of us cannot hold space for
        no art in our hearts, lest not in our eyes
        of the children artisting in our homes

        is that what you’re wearing? (she asks)
        yes, mom

edited:

i hurry rushing flushing bluster of nerves
pause from stacking painted tank top, black sweatshirt on a shelf
that sits behind a heavy splintered door made of knotty pine
which doesn’t slide any longer, broken now and laying rough within its metal creaking track

stop
what am i doing? for whom am i putting all this away? who am i trying to be?

my healing vacation of quasi-awakening, traumatic shifts of the self
coming to a close. they’re already in the car. my mother driving him 

        home, to his mothering
        artist when he is away

i slide empty canvases and dried lumpy creations from core
inside a brown paper box awaiting life, when she comes again

since becoming a mother, i have been trying to find another mother way
which, it doesn’t work it hurts more than helps,  i know it cannot be true, because
i am terrified of the other mothering
she doesn’t have unconditional love, or give freedom to be creating

        somehow there has to be space for me, the artst in me, within all of my mothering
        it is who-i-aming, so i must be expanding
        i choose to make space hold space offer grace for the child in this home
        full of life in her space in all she creates her brightness and her glory

and to sweet attempts and perfect failings within all of our untrue mothering
        i offer kindness to you, who won’t be understood
        some cannot hold space for
        art in our hearts, lest not in the eyes
        of children within our homes

stop, is that what you’re wearing?
        yes, mom

you can forget the words– artist you yogi you writer you–once you’ve gotten the meaning [ram dass poetic teaching]

(ram dass said chuang tzu said)

the rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit.
once you’ve gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare.
words exists because of meaning.
once you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words

where can i find a man who has forgotten words so i can have word with him?
you don’t have to try or even to listen
we just have to be together and it will happen

thanks to ram dass and youtube and for 2020 for all of this that was and is to come

love is love [poetic teaching]

what is it, you say
(baba ram dass), about

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE?

when we’re in the presence
of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
our hearts experience joy and expansion, which
is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
and within experiencing it, we’e free to be
as WE NATURALLY ARE, LOVE

and so, you say
(baba ram dass)

THE HEART will lead your authentic
EXPANSION if we allow it to
SEEK ITSELF over and over and over
AGAIN SEEKING, finding itself
THE SOURCE

so then, you say
(baba ram dass)

in the presence of
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
our SELF is experiencing its SELF
WE ARE FULLY ALIVE
WE ARE WITHIN LOVE
WE ARE LOVE
LOVE IS LOVE

so then, you say
(baba ram dass)

(baba ram dass) two things, maybe three

1) Let yourself BE IN UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

2) Know the LOVE is also YOU and ENDLESS and INFINITE and is is what is, so just RELAX

3) Don’t attach LOVE to an object or experience. Once it has been felt, ever, really felt between people, animals, places, situations, EVER, it is ALWAYS a part of YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS. BE GRATEFUL FOR THE LOVE AND let it go with GRACE. Period.

who is baba ram dass [in gratitude]

i am an unworthy phony who has moments of holiness, he said

i am not a holy being
who now
and then
falls

liberation
imagine a wheel
hub in the center
liberation

now and then through
intense trauma
and sadhana, or the love of a guru, or something

moments of liberation
you go
ahhh you see who you are and it’s

all beautiful and then you’re off balance and
i oughta meditate

then the weight has flipped and then you’re off balance and
i oughta stop meditating and do the dishes

you don’t have to go to india
your teachings will be right here
and then he disappeared.

in gratitude to he that is ram dass, rest in forever liberation and light.
gratitude to you, ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram.

einstein demands the new way of thinking, which tibetans used to know, jaar [poem]

and i quote
rameshwar das
in polishing
the mirror, quoting
albert einstein

a new type of thinking is
essential if mankind is to
survive
and move
toward
higher levels

YES! 100 AHO snaps~

what we’ve been doing
over and over the up down up down chatty kathy kitty katty nonsense
looping our minds on loop
will never work
has never worked

let it go, new path takers
reflect for a moment

did tibetans
find the
way OUT of it
the suffering, the madness, the cycles of nature, #thehorriblebeautyofitall
by thinking, the same way?
no. they did not.

let it go, new path takers
reflect for a moment

can you, can we
find the
way OUT of it
the suffering, the madness, the cycles of nature, #thehorriblebeautyofitall
by thinking, the same way?
no. i we you can not.

so, alas

look around you, the laws, the customs, the what the fuck is ok by law now?
and what are we doing in every instance of taking and making
if not to be creating more unease
predicaments within which we enslave our simple selves
all our cells and our hands and homes

within whom to we hold the power and preciousness of our sacred human gift of choice?

the invitation is here
can we please all level up
if not all, what about you, and me
for all, to restore the cosmic harmon(e)y

gyan only knows what happened to the essence of einstein, or the insighted awareness of baba ram das, or the actual souls within the actual fully earth-realized and conscious united beings of ramana maharshi, or paramahansa yogananda, or jesus christ, or buddha, or my baby buddha before he takes on the colors and the pains and the human condition of man.

i offer myself and my insights and the light of this beautiful god to you all

surrender
a new way of thinking is here, jaar

(hafiz)
oh thou who are trying to learn the marvel of love
through the copybook of reason, i am very much afraid
you will never see the point

surrender.here.now [poetic teaching]

(krishna says in the og bg)
he who teaches those who do not want to hear
is performing an immoral act
                but you couldn’t anyway

it is only at the point that you ask the question
that you can hear the answer

it is only at the point when it begins to dawn on you that maybe
all the methods you had available to you thus far
aren’t going to be enough

all we can do at this point is to
share our journeys with one another (thanks, ram ram dass)

as the heart opens
again, if they surrender

vairagya letting go
the karmic eventual non-attachment
the most sincerest of seekers, or life experiencers, will feel

        as the heart opens
        again, if they surrender

all paths lead to the same place
you can get some of the dynamics of method
other pilgrims walking the true path without a path to follow
only the heart opening
watch in wonder

        as the heart opens
        again, if they surrender

I longed to be a beautiful woman [poem] // tale of our first solo scooty adventure in the desert

I caught my shadow on the single-lane asphalt road with broken rocky shoulders that drew a line south in the Thar, save a few curves of sanddunes drifting across the surface. My head was tightly wrapped in an emerald green pashmina from Jaipur, the scarf tail dancing behind our bodies roughly one hundred kilometers from the Pakistan border. It was 95 degrees at ten am. Before we’d set off that morning I covered my son with the usual heavy gray cotton flap of his baby carrier, attached him tightly to my body, and drove down the slippery stone slabs of the fort first gate. It was the first time we’d ride here just the two of us.

The path was edged with desert cacti who wore silken flowers of faded fuchsia and tiny white pearls. The road cut through fields of harvested cumin, gathered into stone-topped drying piles amongst scattered mounds of sandstone boulders. The road curved through one small village of people who lived by shaping them. I smelled dirt. There were sandstone homes, carved beautifully, but most were square squatty concrete buildings, some with bright white lime and turquoise facades.

Muslim shepherds in sweat-stained dhotis with bulging inner pockets, slender frames, walked slowly behind dreadlocked sheep and black goats with twisted horns and rectangle eyes. Six or seven golden and burnt black camels in shade, sometimes alone, like the saggy backed bony cows who occasionally wore 15-inch horns. We passed by dung and clay huts with straw circle tops. Kids chased our scooter, which made me nervous, but happy to be seen. I smiled at the older humans, being, waiting for me to pass.

I longed to be a beautiful woman in a movie, the kind who poetry and novels are written about, dressed with a green scarf round her head, tied at the neck, pair of wheels under her, upon an open road.

Going deeper into the desert, I continued toward the Shakti temple an hour from town.

My dreams were now alive in the shadows on the ground.

If your eyes are still open [poem]

If your eyes are still open
when the birds begin to sing
stay awake
pour the tea
open the book of love songs
and poetry
wrap your shoulders in a shawl
sit outside
on your balcony
watch the sun change
the sky
from muted gray to lavender and peach
to soft faded blue
and notice the fir trees
and mountain paths
and terraces of wheat and rock
and prayer flags fluttering
in the barely moving wind
and hear the dogs beckoning
each other
to join the bell-wearing donkeys
and the day
and sip, sip, sip
it all
in

Sunrise Selfie in Dharamkot April 27 2017
Sunrise selfie at my hOMe in Dharamkot, Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. April 27, 2017