chobani enlightenment [poem]

your feet pound the faux-wood floor
pace, pick up, forget as right foot steps
chobani, strawberry pieces, red
animal rage so strong, little man

your anger, your fire, you
that you found along the path of love
now as it casts stones at your son
does it feel good to burn, mama?

        you gulp sour spit at the sight of what you said
        in spite and sorry not fit to be a mom, not meant to be a mom, why did i decide to mom
        like this
        before the buddha on the couch
        you remember your plan to enlighten
        who the fuck has time for that
        creative mom with self-scarring wounds is surviving, self-medicating
        making space to make it better
        chuckle
        exhale smoke

your son was ready, wanted to be gone
didn’t flinch in seeing you stay there, behind
but does she have the bubble wand, mama?

        she does, my sweet son, she does

Upper Peninsula, Michigan, USA // November 2020

The fall [poem]

my father-like fingers, hands
protruding veins, short nails, tips
red, holding, entangling in
pushing aside you sweaty hair
colored like a taupe rabbit
soft like an underbelly
quick to cut, to bleed
my mother’s mouth, lips wet, warm
whispering breath, apology song, tears
on your face, now quivering
bruised from the bang on
marble floor, your head
throbbing, turning blue, growing
in the quiet aftermath

jaisalmer fort, rajasthan india // march 2019

I question the ‘Why?’

Tonight, I feel soft.
Feminine, in my curves and my tears and my whispering voice.
Tender, and a tad alone.

Not lonely.
Alone.

A few close friends have left tonight.
… always the hardest part of being on the road—the goodbyes to your new chosen family members, which are, as heartbreaking as it may sound, often (and for me usually) harder than the sustained goodbyes to your long-established blood family at home (they’re always there, as we’d like to believe at least, and we’ll know it’s “when” I’ll see them again, rather then “if” as it comes to pass with the heart tribe of a backpacking clan…).

The sky has been raining for over 24 hours straight.
And I’m living in a cloud, that I can touch, for once.

I’ve just watched a movie set in my beloved northwest.
… my most recent chosen ‘home’ in the ‘home’land, that was my original ‘home’ in the ‘home’land, that I still feel more amazed by and intrigued with than all the latter ‘homes’ that have found space in my heart. (although, that one resembling a mitten and full of magical creatures with flesh and fur and fallen leaves makes me lose my breath, and pause my beating heart, I know, when I visit her in my mind…)

My face is scabbed from the thorny tree limb that violently ripped flesh while I flattened myself atop Marie, the albino quarter horse mix , who perhaps wanted me off her back just as badly as I wanted to remain on hers. forever.

Messages from a confused friend land in my inbox. One. Another. Another…And I move them to the Keepsakes/Loves Lost folder. For safe keeping. And indefinite ignoring.

And here I am.
Alone.
With the memories.
The motives.
The longing.
The sadness.

Tonight, joy isn’t at my side.
She’s succumbed to an emotion greater and grander, in all its glory-filled richness, which casts depth, dark shadows, on the fantasy feelings I oft choose to cling to.

Joy is resting, soon to return.
…she always does, that rascal, in her own due time, which is always surprising yet expected, and most times welcome. because what child doesn’t like the light?

But what I feel is beautiful.

What I feel is painful.

And what I feel is real.

It’s the emotion under the others.
The emotion that’s silent, and still.
Waiting for my moments to settle.
For my mind to stop, to stay in.
For my heart to welcome her power.

Alone.

At 30 years old, with a warrior for a body and a gypsy for a spirit and a ballerina philosophizing poet for a mind, I question myself: ‘Why?’

Why must I continue onward, down this path of unknown tomorrows?
Why must I make things difficult for the child inside who craves to know who her friends will be the tomorrow ten days from now?
Why must I walk farther and farther away from love, into the arms of impatience?
Why must I chase adventure, adrenaline, and awe, instead of sweet surrender into the soft stillness of a simple home and a simple life?
Why must I open my heart to strangers, shielding my soul from the souls I want to choose?
Why must I insist on a planless plan, without promises, or purchased plane tickets?
Why must I fight the soft girl within who wants to say ‘I really just don’t know…’ to everything, because she doesn’t, with too-cool confidence and capability and sass-filled sarcasm and smarts?
Why must I keep leaving, arriving, leaving, and let those who love me never know how long I’ll be around?

And…

Why must I carry my sword?
For which battle am I fighting?
For whom?

Self-inquiring, I ask, ‘Are you sure you’re not running from something?’ and ‘Are you sure you’re doing the right thing for you?’ and ‘Are you sure you couldn’t be living a life just as full and just as fitting, across the oceans and in the pines, with your dog and your car and your practice and your art and your music and your smoothies and your … home?’

The answer I give others is ‘Yes, I’m sure.’
in not so many words.

But the real answer,
the one that persists if I let myself be honest with myself,
is ‘no.’

No.

‘No, I’m not sure.’

I like to believe I’m living what I’m creating, what I’m designing, from my unmanifest dreams.

But that wouldn’t be entirely truthful.

My dream life is much like this life, but it’s also like that other life I lived once, and the one before that, and before that… And it’s got so many bits included from the lives I’ve yet to live but that I’ve imagined, I’ve prayed for, I’ve called out to God for while lying face down in the dirt, tears inside my eyes, and while lying face up in the grass, eyes locked inside the eyes of a lover.

Do I know what I am doing? No.
Would I say that this life, with all its beautiful blessings, is worth the possibility that the dream life I write romance novels and fairy tales in my mind about, that I tell travelers and soul sisters about, that I cry about, on planes on buses and in burly bear-man arms, won’t ever be, because maybe I won’t ever find myself in one place long enough to establish this vision, or let the Universe meticulously compose the bits, one by one, so that it grows into something greater than I could ever have conceived? No. Could I fathom that this life, my moment to moment now, is evolving and transforming into that dream life? Not really.

But I do know there is no certainty.
And I do know that I trust, deeply, in life.
And I do know that I am living the only life I could really ever live.
And that all the pieces are coming together, or falling apart, exactly as they should, simply because they are… and so it is…

But I am alone.
And I am ok with that
tonight.
And I am ok to still be asking ‘Why?’ after all these years.
And I am ok holding my shield, my weapons, my books.

And I am ok
also
throwing them into the pyre.

When it’s time, take me.
Lift me up and show me what’s next.
For my life. for this life. for…

And I will be ready.

Until then, I rest my head upon a community pillow
used before by believers, businessmen, runners, space-holders, stamp-chasers.
And I’ll eat pancakes in the morning.
With Turkish coffee and turmeric.
And I’ll write a story, on the art of doing nothing,
and the magic that creates.

And I’ll live myself into yet another tomorrow ten days from now
and see who shows up to be friends with the child inside
and see for whom I’ll measure the weight and worth of my shield
and see if the question remains
but I know, I believe,
it will.

…. Odem, Golan Heights, Israel, November 2016.

image-1-1
“Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given because you would not be able to live them. And that is the point, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Sharing: Aliveness and Serenity in the buzz -jerusalem-

Keeping it real. This moment. Sharing: I’m really fucking happy right now. Cheesy pop plugged into my ears, fellow travelers bumping elbows and pint glasses with my own, a jam session about to begin on the stage before me… I sit here with a smile, a sigh, and a head shake of pure ‘what the hell is this beautiful life?!’
 
I’m reflecting and integrating, finally, the glorious mess and hella beautiful madness of the last two weeks… (Goodbye Michigan and Michigan loves, hello and goodbye San Francisco and Emerging Women, Path of Love — whhhhaaatt???!!!, a ‘work’week in Tel Aviv, the weekend of wonderful and sweet what-the-fuck?, and now Jerusalem.)
It’s just beautiful, this thing, this life. The ups, the downs, the what-the-hell-am-i-doing, and the what-the-hell-just-happened… All of it.
 
Starting and ending each day in gratitude, in raw gratitude, helps make my moments a bit more powerful. I realize, again, that life really is a game. The one I’m – you’re – living is, is just one option… There’s always another option. And another. And another… Say yes to that fella with the pomegranate juice? Another. Say no to that tour of Tel Aviv? Another. Say yes to your family’s holiday proposition? Another. Say no? Say yes? So not now? Say not ever? All options… You’ll – I’ll – never know what’s ‘best’ and truthfully I don’t want to know. I just want to keep riding the train and seeing what’s around the bend…
Meeting an intimidating artist gypsy from Berlin and a pair of far-too-handsome but far-too-shy Swedish fellas and an aging redheaded Norwegian sister soul help me connect more deeply to my own heart, my own triggers, my own ‘flaws’, my own values, my self…
I am SO honored to be in this human experience right now. I recognize the trip I’m on — the highs, oh the HIGHS (that are so very far from the lows so close I can feel them creeping up on me many a moments…) with their bliss and their enchanted bewilderment. I feel my own energy, the oft-frenzied movement within my mind — ‘Can I lie here a moment longer? Linger, last, just love this second? mmmm No, I cannot… there is a day to seize and a body built to move and a city and sensation to experience. I move… Not sure where to go, but knowing a move must be made. Start with a toe… An ankle… A calf dance… Then, I’m up and asking God for the gift of another day. — and I feel the burning on my tongue seeking a taste of passion and passionfruit and pissed off rage exploding from within… The back and forth and in and out, and the artist inside saying ‘I’m done giving a fuck if I’m crazy, the most crazy, or sane, the most sane in this bunch of crazies’ and the practical/fearful adult inside saying ‘Hey sweet girl… Calm it down, and take a rest, there’s too much here, now, and you’re going to break if you run so far, so fast…’
 
It’s all there. All of it. I feel it all.
 
Yet, this game of life gives us a choice. And, gosh… At this moment, I choose to LIVE in the most YES way I can. There is a fire inside me, that was put there for some reason, OR that lives there without reason at all, but I love it. I do. And I am SO grateful for the moments in my life where I really experience the depth of MY experience. I remember the gray days, I remember the hours spent hiding in fear — so recent, just a handful of months ago — taking a xanax at 8, and another at noon, and another at 3 or 4… just to get the courage to share space with those who have loved me since birth… I remember the terror I felt, the freezing terror that overcame my physical body and hollowed my mind, when I realized I hadn’t eaten anything substantial in days but felt, deep within my core, that I couldn’t attempt to eat a single thing. I remember trying, sitting at a diner with my father, to stomach a soft omelette with my favorite vegetables, and having to spit out the chewed protein into a napkin just so I wouldn’t uncontrollably vomit on the table… (I reflect now, WHO WAS THIS? I realize, THIS WAS ME. This is me when things are out of alignment, when I have denied the power of love and respect of intuition and divine guidance for far too long…)
 
So, I am in a high moment right now. And I am respectful and honoring of life’s flow that, for me, can be just as terribly painful as it is ecstatically beautiful. And for some humans here, I realize that the lows are not worth the highs. But, for me, I suppose I’ll take the gray days that god has for me, knowing it means I get to also experience the psychedelic richness and depth of emotion that I am experiencing now.
And in my body? Tight belly that is riveted with excitement. Arms and fingers full of energy, ready to do work (and put them to work, I am — writing writing writing away). Head that is a little busy and dizzy (mucho movement in this day and lots to do and take care of in the coming days). And a heart that is full (holding space, for others, creating space, for my own). Some loving souls, with truly my best interests at heart, may say ‘feel what you’re feeling, but bring it back to this moment…’ And to that, I say, ‘This moment is all things. Madness. Softness. Serenity in the buzz…’

It’s all good. Fucking a’ man, it’s all good.

God. Thank you.
 

Beckons from above: airplane prayers

Yes sweety, push your face into that double-paned plastic glass and see the world out there!

Watch your body fly by the planet at 350 miles per hour and watch the bodies below rest and wait for something to change that never will change.

Let yourself marvel, and wonder, because that’s you baby girl.

Your heart wants to see — always has and always will — so let your eyes feast in the now and never regret a moment of being “that girl” who is almost 30 and laughs like a toddler and wonders like a mystic and dances like a harlot.

Do you — ALWAYS — because the you YOU are is the YOU the universe meant for YOU to be, and the YOU you are has a specific and perfect role to play.

So be you, please, I pray, no matter if you’re met with wide sideways snears and upturned noses, what-the-fucks from friends near or far, or complete disregard from professionals or peers in your field.

I beg you, go to bed with a head upon a heavenly pillow that beckons your rest in a state of ease and contentment, settling in the inner knowing you’ve lived and loved another day for you.

14441006_10154685249859101_9212592542259513178_n

people are innocent when they’re about to fly [poem]

i watch people and their people’ness play out in buildings
built to keep people structured in the last moments before they fly

a heavy adult man makes faces into a FaceTime screen to… a child or wife or mistress on the side? it’s cute either way.

new friends become friends near a burger in the airport bar without ever knowing names. she plugged in his phone.

a woman in dress pants flaps a stiletto heel from her foot, toward a well-dressed suited man. i suspect she has a delayed flight, with only time and men to kill.

young children trail behind a parent with pillow pets and a pink backpack, creased lines on her forehead. i feel you, girl(s).

an international first-timer, stopped, staring at the departures sign.

can you imagine what they feel?
i wonder if they
regret the wings that
brought them to this land.

people are innocent when they’re about to fly

My Story… in sentences…

…written about my life through age 26. Here I am, 3 years later, with chapters more to tell… wishing I would have shared more then, and determined to share more now…

I’ll warn you that the story I’m about to tell often isn’t pretty. It’s not a fairy-tale or romance novel. It’s complicated, confusing, racy, and raw. This story isn’t pretty but it’s the only story I could ever tell, and it’s the only story I could ever live. This story isn’t pretty, but it’s my own.

This is my story.

I traveled the country in a teal, 7-person minivan that could never be large enough for two fighting parents and four competing siblings headed south for family vacations to Civil War sites, presidential palaces, and the occasional amusement park that offered a 2-for-1 deal.

I smoked Marlboro cigarettes with my adolescent friends inside sewer tunnels, behind abandoned buildings, and outside Wednesday night church services.

I dyed my hair white and pink and black and blue in an attempt to rebel and break my farming community’s expectations for well-behaved youth.

I proudly and arrogantly wore the title of Class President, Cheer Captain, and Homecoming Queen candidate.

I was raped in a walk-in closet by a large, terrifying man with skin a color very different from my own. I made futile attempts to push his weight off my weak teenage body, quivering with pain and crying with frustration. I didn’t tell my friends because I felt ashamed and guilty and gross. He told his friends to call him Cane.

I stood in a stainless steel-laden emergency room and gazed at a twinkling diamond adorning the ear of my dead friend who passed away at 17 in a naive yet heroic attempt to save her drug-dealing boyfriend from a life behind bars, only to then inhale a white line up my nose, without remorse, just days later.

I encouraged a young Chinese child to block out the bustling city around us and offer me a sign of peace and comfort in a smog- and construction crane-filled Beijing already prepping for the Olympic games.

I sped through the streets of Switzerland, singing and laughing in a car filled with as many nationalities as there were seats. I then had one-night stands with a Portuguese 20-something named Casper and a teenage Canadian hockey player still holding his v-card until I took it.

I helped run a bakery in the lush hills of Puerto Rico during a hurricane, just moments after a friend and I did shots of Dynamite and danced in a bar packed with a few-too-many dangerous men.

I was robbed by a gangster who caught me catch him dealing drugs in a ghetto, only for his lips to insist I smoke a joint with his friends inside a stone gazebo just minutes later.

I dined with dignitaries and soccer players and European models while caring for a young Senator’s son who was blessed or maybe cursed to be born with an Italian silver spoon in his mouth and a too-busy-and-pretty socialite as a mom.

I befriended a burka-wearing woman in a hotel hot tub on a quaint island coast just east of Madagascar. We discussed religion and the roles of women in our polar opposite worlds and then she used perfect penmanship to craft the script still adorning my wrists. Freedom and life are two things we both longed for, two things we both loved.

I spent a week in Amsterdam cleaning for an exiled-IRA member in exchange for supplies of brushes and speed so I could paint a psychedelic mural on the stone street-facing wall of our shared squat which got running water from a garden hose hooked to the apartment above.

I felt the strange sensation of being dreadfully alone in an endless sea of people as I prayed at the pantheon and listened to Pope Benedict preach to thousands in the Citta del Vaticano.

I waited for a war to subside in an Israeli bomb shelter for a week, wondering if the dozens of young people I shared my summer with would ever make it home to their countries thousands of miles away, to friends and families anxiously watching CNN, in fear another bomb may have fallen in our area.

Fueled at first by my lack of funds and sustained by my insatiable curiosity for Christ, I mingled with the monks and brothers of Taize in a small monastery in the south of France. I cleaned toilets with teens from Lithuania as a tradeoff for living there, and then I unsuccessfully attempted to silence my speech with a Swedish girl adopted from Sri Lanka.

I hurt a kind man very cruelly while he fought for my heart and battled heat and utter brutality while also fighting for my country, thousands of miles away in a Mideast desert city doing damage to its people and to the mind of my very own soldier.

Clothed in a plastic Ghostbusters suit and armed with a toxic chemical concoction and a cheap plastic spatula, I picked and peeled the bloody brains and splattered remains of a man who took his own life in a knotty pine, northern Michigan bedroom.

I flirted and toyed with a pair of cops while I clutched an underage-drinking ticket in my hand, drunk and desperate, upset not that I’d broken the law but that I’d have to ask my parents yet again for rides to work and money for fees and lawyers.

I witnessed the violent suicide attempt of a lover, horrified and helpless as I watched the pulsing blood spray from his neck and splatter on mid-February snow. I felt the weighty power of guilt and regret, somehow managing to carry around a big bag of what-ifs for years afterward.

I lived in a sorority-style party house just blocks from the coolest campus in our state. In two years, I drank and danced more than any human body is designed to handle in a lifetime. I made friends with snobs and junkies and artists paying for their college from trust-funds, drug deals, or, like me, an endless supply of unforgivable debt from our nation’s biggest bank.

Using an anvil of felt-covered speakers, I regretfully broke the nose and spirit of a girl who defended a guy who pompously attempted to display his dominance over me in a crowded, techno-filled basement bar. My friends rushed me into hiding and handed me a shot as I watched her get whisked away by bouncers.

I devoted my nights and weekends to a chaotic newsroom, learning the process and payoff of passionate work with a few dozen underpaid but dedicated journalism students, some of who would publish in the New York Times and Washington Post just a few years later.

I felt piercing pain and awe-struck disbelief as the man I planned to spend my life with cheated and lied, and then created human life with another while the two of us fruitlessly clung to our crumbling life together. I continued to work the reel of my romantic film, frame by frame, before it unraveled, tragically, as some blonde bimbo with little teeth squeezed me from my starring role.

I embellished my body with glitter and gold as I made a weekly appearance at the gay bar next door and the blackout ballroom in my mind, stopping at the eyepatch-wearing neighbor’s house on more than one occasion, who would hit on me then pass me blunts with a black, pistol-holding hand.

I ingested the poison and madness of monotony as I pushed open heavy metal doors and walked past security guards at a safe, secure, government job for five soul-sucking years. I befriended the Indian data geeks, using them as my sole method for cross-cultural immersion in a building strategically set for mice in a cage.

I twirled barefooted to the sounds of squealing guitars and dynamic drum beats in summer’s sweltering Tennessee heat, high on life and hallucinogens with my very best friends. I let go of my corporate composure after re-finding freedom and center in a field of hula-hoops and fire dancers.

I helped take away the only positive things remaining in my best friend’s life, two young, beautiful children, after hearing her reveal that she’d given her life to heroin and meth. What I perceived as a call for help may very well have been her last attempt to open up.

I defensively explained to judgmental ears why I felt called and compelled to sell half my belongings and pack away my life and relationships in an attempt to finally find purpose and peace in the jungle, and then relocate without prospect to the best west coast city there is, Portland.

I learned the connection of mind, body, and spirit as I woke at 5 a.m. each morning, committed to letting the sun drive my days that were filled with communal cob building, rainy afternoon yoga, and waterfall revelations.

I felt the gnawing teeth of a parasitic worm living in my leg, feeding on my muscles for nourishment and strength, somehow convincing my psyche to let him stay a bit longer… Others told me that if this child of mine were to die while still inside my body, I very well may die, too. I spent a week drinking, developing the courage required to bear the pain of his death…

I made love to a bohemian gypsy musician whose birth name I didn’t know, on a beach lit by a bright white Nicaraguan full-moon. He led me to a spiral in the sand where we handed me hash and asked to join me on my adventures northward. I kissed him goodbye, telling him I’d see him someday, a day that has yet to come.

I sat in lotus beside a stone totem for wisdom as I listened to my future unfold from a Mayan shaman. She told me I’m destined for partnered creation but that I must keep dance and change in my life… We looked across the magical, mystical lake at a plume of smoke rising from the Vulcan de Fuego.

I forced myself to move back home, still my steps, and intentionally create space, making my mind endure the pains of my past and reflect on the lessons learned through years of avoidance and attempts to escape whatever uneasy situation I found myself in at 15, 20, or 25.

I submerged my soul into ice-cold uncomfort, day after day, week after week, willing a release that would finally free my mind from the torturous, unfulfilling cycle of my own social butterfly life… of the butterfly who never grew wings but instead chose to fight nature and continually rebuild a warm cocoon of relationships or substance-filled anonymity, time and time again, and never truly fly toward her fate.

Then somehow, for some reason, I stopped…

I let go. Of plans. Of will. Of regret.

I shattered my walls of control already cracking with the pressure of freedom’s roots, fighting to grow through crevices created by flashes of vulnerability and softness.

I surrendered my life to the artist in the sky who’s been prepping the paints and palette for my life’s work, who has been giving my hands necessary practice with each pitfall and each triumph, giving my heart inspiration from each traveler I encountered who was either adventuring in the physical world or in the endless Universe of the mind…

I took a breath… Then another… And another…

And suddenly, I saw my life as it truly was.

I saw my dreams coming to fruition in my mind’s all-knowing eye and I saw my talents propelling me forward toward beauty and grace and wisdom…

I knew then all I needed to know.

I realized I’ve always had all the tools I’ll ever need inside my head and inside my heart.

I understood truth, and what it means to be free.

I decided to cocoon for one final time, but instead of creating a chrysalis for protection, I created a chrysalis for lasting, genuine change that would create the butterfly I was always meant to be.

I rested inside the cocoon for a while, just enough to catch my breath and let wings form beautifully around my body…

Then, I emerged. Materialized. Manifested.

I became willing and ready to work toward wisdom, impassioned to find and share truths, and inspired to paint my life in such a way that my canvas may inspire others to do the same.

Now I am here, grateful and honest and always open…

Reflection of the Mayan fire ceremony

written after spending time in San Marcos, Guatemala, on the incredibly magical Lago Atitlan… ~spring 2013.

I just came across this hurried set of notes I wrote in San Marcos (on Lake Atitlan) in Guatemala. This was just days after participating in the Mayan fire ceremony with Bri (my soul sister from New Jersey I met on a bus from Managua to Guatemala City). I wasn’t going to go to this ceremony, opting to let Bri experience it herself, but I am so grateful I did. I feel my life will never be the same after hearing some insights into the Mayan astrological sign for my life…

I need to take time to edit this into a readable story, but for now, the notes must suffice.

Notes below:

I know now that I’m meant to write and I’m meant to share and I’m meant to travel and I’m meant to create bonds and relationships between people and communities. I’m meant to share knowledge of what I know is truth (what this is I’m still unsure). I’m meant to be bonded with another and my full energy and spirit can only shine when I am making time for dance and play and creativity, and when I’m able to find change and sunrises. I also need to keep in balance the giving and receiving.

My energy nawal is No’j, which is the Mayan symbol for wisdom and turning intelligence into action.

I’m rooted in Toj, which is a symbol of balance.

My destiny is ruled by Kan, which is the creation nawal and full of sexual energy and relationships.

I have Akabal and Batz on my sides, signifying change and creativity.

The fire ceremony I experienced a few days ago was magic. Words will not be able to adequately describe what I felt during the 5 hours Bri and I spent with Jennifer and Sondri. We were told the ancient Mayan creation story about the two sacred snakes creating the human race four times, and it wasn’t until the fourth time that the human race was able to give gratitude to the creators. There were four races of people — red, black, yellow, and white, each having a correlation with an element. Red were the fire people, white were the winds, black was the water, and yellow was the earth (the corn).

Jennifer also told us about the tale of the two brothers who became the sun and moon after defeating the lords of the underworld and being brought from the underworld by faith from their grandmother.

She also told us that true paradise can only be found within, and it comes when we genuinely feel respect for all things. Everything deserves respect, she said.

We sat around the alter of No’j, my nawal, which just coincidentally happened to be on the land at which they were staying. Sondri prepared a fire circle while we’d been speaking, and we all lit it and took care of the fire together. We gave items to the fire (candles, leaves, broken sticks) as needed.

We called in the energies from each of the 20 nawals, some of which Bri and I did (I called in No’J for example) and the others were done by Jennifer and Sondri.

We sometimes used playful ways to call in the energies, like when we called in B’atz (which is symbolized by the monkey) we all made monkey sounds to show we were playful and respecting the energy we wanted.

There were sometimes we called out our names because our names have power and deserve energy.

There were times we held hands and used our elements – mine was/is Earth and the west (my actual nawal direction is east).

Sondri explained that everything is teaching us something. When the fire goes out, that means we were either proceeding too slow or that we needed to pay it more attention.

This event was quite moving for me, and for Bri. Bri ended up staying in the little magical lake town for a couple months after I left actually.

Untitled girl and a stream of consciousness.

Written November 2014, during a low moment…

Today is a new day, a fresh start, as is each and every morn’ that we wake and see the sky and salute the sun within. Today is a new day, a fresh start…

I don’t know exactly what happened or when, again, but I got off track. I let myself yet become overwhelmed with life and everything I thought I ought to do, including who I should be and where I should go and what I should do to make money and what that big ol’ purpose is for my life.

Guess what? That’s a terrible thing to do. Of course it happens to everyone from time to time, but when this happens to me, and if I let it continue to happen (which, of course, I’ve been known to do…), I lose myself.

When this happens, I’m scared me into a state of paralysis in which I don’t want to try. Anything. Yet, I’ll do just about anything to mask the paralyzing pain and numb myself while I wait it out. I find a way to almost constantly distract and busy myself… I don’t think that’s the best thing to do, but it’s what I do. (did. am doing. now.) I retreat into a safe zone of comfort. (family. foods. movies. beds. arms.)

I don’t want this for my life, but yet, when I am in that state, I lose my ability to really want for my life. I lose the ability to really feel or know pleasure. I lose the ability to even want to feel or know pleasure. It’s like I stop wanting to exist. Not die, just not “live” in the sense I know is possible. (my life is a roller coaster ride… up, WAY WAY WAY up, and then down. And sometimes, down really fucking fast… in my head at least…) I don’t know who this person is, because she surely isn’t the best me…

But I do know that she (me) is a side of Robin (me) that comes around from time to time and really messes up my flow. I sometimes hate her… And I don’t hate anything. (that’s a stretch, because those factory farms are seriously fucked up… and even then, I like ice cream… hypocrit, but I gotta keep it real.)

She’s here now and I don’t want her to hang around. So how do I let her go… How do I push her aside… She’s a shadow side that I probably (apparently. obviously.) haven’t addressed fully yet. I should probably learn to embrace her. Let the free lady bird gal give her a hug sometimes… Let myself soften and see and feel without hating. Stop picking at my cuticles and eating too many cookies and waiting until too late to prepare for my day and procrastinating with my work and dreaming of being everywhere except where I am. I should probably just let myself be. here. now. and love this. place. right here.

Is it possible to create an alter ego for myself? For the me I want to be. Maybe a fake name. Iris. (no one would believe that was my real name, unless I moved to Portland, which considering one of my Chrome tabs currently open is roommates wanted in the ‘city of my dreams’, isn’t too far fetched. but no. not Iris.) Maybe something new, reinventing the Robin I am. The one with debt and mistakes and regret and trust issues and walls that even she doesn’t know how to scale any more… The one who thought she had it (all aforementioned things and more) figured out, and who very publicly stood on a soap box (per blog. social media. ego-feeding tools.) and told you how, and told you what you didn’t know you needed to know. Who felt great and attributed it to the wisdom she gained in her quarter-life crisis. Who reconnected with the earth, with her body, with her heart… Who opened up too damn much. (maybe.) Who really wasn’t ready to leave (who really ever is?) but took off instead, heading overseas for a few-month adventure, letting herself learn and study and feel, deep deep deep down, for a little while. And even then, she was trying to be needed. Trying to find a way to assert her role. Trying to let others in, and trying to find that damn purpose again. (you can’t find it. seriously. we all know this, and I’ve learned it many times. but damn it, I want to know!)

The Depression Dams

…written in early December, 2015… And, I will add, that I’m safely ‘out’ of the depression I write of here. And I didn’t share this with anyone on my blog, or in my home, then because I was most surely in a shameful denial. Fuck shame… This is what my depression looks like.

full disclosure — written way too late, after half an expired sleeping pill, at my parents’ house (that I’ve been staying at more often than I’d like to admit lately…) — honest if nothing else, right?

Depression.

It dams you up and blocks you, your voice, your brain, your spirit… It dams the vital bits that make you YOU, and it also dams the connections between them that make you FUNCTION like a human.

The damn depression dams.

Depression most often starts small… at least at first. A couple things start being different — “not tonight” is said a bit more often to your partner, the gym/the mat/the class can be skipped this week, and cooking is less than appetizing — and then slowly, without you even noticing, it’s back full force.

“Hello, I’m depression and I’m here to fuck you up.

I’m going to take pleasure away from everything you loved to do, so much so that you’ll stop doing them completely because why not? You’ll start to tell yourself you’re not any good at them anyway, or that you’re a phony, or that it’s too hard/too easy/too impossible to do… You don’t know what to do on that mat anymore, you yoga teacher you. *cough* phony *cough*!” depression says. You don’t want to hike for hours with your best furry friend, because it’s cold out there (even if it’s colder and getting colder wherever I’m around, my friend… he says). You don’t want to dream that big dream of helping heal others through yoga and cooking and gardening and creative expression… because that’s a terrible idea,” depression says.

“I’m going to take away your health bit by bit. Maybe I’ll start with sleep…and convince you to take those sleeping pills you hoarded years ago, stockpiling before the insurance ran out, just in case… Of course you’ll then continue to take them, daily, initially because you need them, and now in part also because you fear what terrible things may happen if you’re forced to face the world in this state, with a sleepless face looking even more vacant yet scattered than had you actually caught a few zzz’s. You’re afraid of being in your head for 8 hours without sleep… maybe that’s when the crazy will really come,” depression says.

“I’ll take away your appetite by filling your stomach with knots, with gurgles, with distended organ and very inconsistent and uncool BMs… You’ll painstakingly order food at a restaurant (that god knows you didn’t choose to eat at, because I’ve also taken away any ability of yours to make a decision…), opting to get that lunch-break martini as well, and drink all of it before the food arrives. Then you’ll have another (because although you’d given up alcohol before I came back, now you want to imbibe and ignore me, even if just for a moment). You’ll pick at that lunch, probably not confiding in your table mate that Depression has dammed everything all up and did a quick kick-flip of your life — so now you’re not you anymore — and blame it on a big breakfast, or being grateful for a smaller appetite these days (what is it, this LYING to cover up depression thing? it’s a big deal. time to talk.).

“I’ll take away your job maybe. Because god knows you didn’t want this job, the exact job you manifested into creation 2 years ago. Because it’s not like this job had all the opportunities you dream of. I’ll also take away any creativity or zest or innovation you have left, and I’ll fill these brain spaces with loneliness… with self-loathing… with thoughts of death, and the act of dying… and with so much fucking CONFUSION that you’ll start to rewear your socks for a full week just because you can’t actually figure out or remember how to use your own washer.

“The confusion one will be a big one for you, sweet unknowing soul, because you’ve always had such a sharp, bright mind… What happened now? Creativity and communication are things you pride yourself on, and things I’m going to take away.

“Oh yes, and I’ll take away your love. Of your partner. Of your self.

The Cycles

written in December, 2015, just before Jake and I broke up… about two months before everything shifted again..

Writing. Writing helps, right?

I’m in the middle (please dear God let it be the end) of a down cycle. A pretty big down cycle. And when I look back at so many of these times in my life I’m seeing that the cycles will always continue.

I don’t even want to say always, because I fear that word… But maybe I really do have to embrace it. Maybe it’s time to realize that what goes down WILL come up, but what goes up WILL come down. Maybe it’s time that I start to recognize that it’s ME that has to change it. It’s ME that has to make moves to come out of it. It’s ME that has to do things to turn the tide. Right?

Maybe not. Maybe I have to embrace it.

Maybe the shame I’m feeling right now for being a good yoga teacher, and then a yoga teacher who couldn’t get or keep her shit goether is just a part of who I am. Maybe this cycle was bound to continue. Maybe the relationship I’m in is one I really don’t need to be in or shouldn’t be in. Maybe it will come back around if I make a solid attempt to get myself better, and then maybe the relationship will get better. Maybe I need to somehow, someway, fuel myself with a community again. Maybe the little fortress I’ve built around myself was the worst thing I could have done. Maybe it’s all about positive self talk. Maybe I need to love on myself instead of hating on myself.

Robin, I love you unconditionally, exactly as you are, right now.

Robin, you have made some bad choices, but you have the opportunity to make some right choices. You have the opportunity to make moves that will change your situation. You have the opportunity to clean yourself up. You have the opportunity to grow, strong, in who you are. You have the opportunity to embrace the dark side… embrace the side that holds guilt and shame. You need a therapist, sure, but maybe there is a great therapist in the written word. Maybe you can write every day, no matter what, and see what happens. Maybe you can ask your body what it wants or needs to eat and do that. Maybe you need to hug that dog of yours, the one who has never done anything but LOVE you, and then play fetch with him even if it’s cold. Don’t be lazy, but understand that you’re in this place for some reason that you don’t understand. You’re in this place because for whatever reason you made choices that weren’t the best, and now you’re here and now you need to decide what to do.

Do you remember what makes you happy? Does that list you wrote years ago still apply? Yoga? yes…although now there is a lot of shame in it because of teaching it, and teaching it well, for a period of time and now not. Sweat? Yes…although when was the last time you even sweat? Maybe that’s something to work on… Writing? Yes, it’s therapeutic if nothing else. Nature? Hell yeah, but where is the nature here? More nature is needed, and there has to be a way to find it. Travel? Yes, but I have to go get the zest from within to do it. …and let’s be real, we’re pretty freaking broke.

So what do we do? Are we going to die? NO. Are we going to live? YES. Yes. Yes. Yes!

I need to be around people. I need to be open and authentic with how I’m feeling. Maybe my family isn’t the best to be around all the time, but the last thing I want to do is build another wall up that further isolates myself. I need to be walking, running, stretching, and opening my body…

Where has the music gone? And why have I not danced to it?

My world, my life, these days…

Poetry is happening in my world, my life, these days…
My mind has much to process, but it comes in much too open, much too raw, vulnerable, frightening ways…
I don’t write as I used to, feverishly penning words from in my head.
Now stories come out on my mat, alone, with students, with tears, with breath…
Now they come out in songs, sung in a voice I’ve never known.
They come out in melodies from ancient times, in rhymes, in imagery, in visions, in the building of a home.
Beauty is being channeled, from above and to the now,
and I’m watching from afar, mesmerized, in awe, at how.
Gifts are given for a time, never knowing when they’ll go.
But I am surely one to take each chance, each step, sharing what I know.
It’s scary yes, I’ll stumble and I’ll fall.
But if I don’t listen, act, then I’m ignoring your clear call.
I am just a vessel here on earth, in this time.
And all I ask is to live your truth, and give it, always, every time.
Judge me if you want, ignore me if you must.
But this life is much too short, too frail, to live without trust.
Poetry is happening in my world, my life, these days.
And I am ever grateful, healed and whole,
for my world, my life, these days.

— robin

“What you think your vulnerability, is really your magic!”

Tears of joy! Overwhelmed with love and love and love.

“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed your entire life.” – Rumi

Just one year ago, I sat with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat on a comfortable, puffy, oh-so-spoiled striped yellow bed at my best friend’s house. The two of us and another girlfriend of ours, and my much-too-furry-and-fat golden retriever, shared a one-bedroom apartment in a hip suburban-Detroit neighborhood. In theory, this was perfect (two broke girls + 1 even-more-broke girl(me) + a dog? We were in made-for-television heaven!)!

You see, I had just returned to Michigan, unplanned and unprepared, after four months abroad, and decided to weasel my way into this cozy home and create a fun, bohemian life for a few months. Well, that didn’t turn out so well.

Within a few weeks of living with this blonde yogi/PR-impassioned/pretty princess and uber-motivated/fiery ginger/goddess pair, I was more lost than ever before. What the fuck was I doing? Who were these women who had somehow transformed from my friends into enlightened beings who were living lives that were somehow sooooo much better than mine, who had it all figured out, who were taking me in just as they would a lost, sad, cute curly-haired little puppy? (Turns out, they weren’t purposely making me jealous, but rather they were just regular, albeit amazing, humans with direction and ambition in a world that seemed to have lost all cardinal points to me.)

So I left. I backed out before things had a chance to get better. I went north. I took another fruitless job in an isolated place, openly allowing myself to wallow and wither away…

But it’s not a tragic story in the end, you see. It’s actually an amazing, enchanted tale full of love and luck and magic!

What started just over a year ago as a period of complete confusion and disappearing dreams turned into a year of trials and tests and grace and absolute blessed goodness!

Who started just over a year ago as a lost child grasping at stranded strings has turned into a focused, inspired, ambitious, balanced woman living on faith and intuition, and loving each moment!

Tomorrow I will be leading my first set of yoga classes in Michigan.

What?! I have somehow transformed from a lost soul looking for guidance, to someone who will be providing guidance and hope and (hopefully) inspiration to sister and brother souls looking for peace and happiness — the same peace and happiness I was looking for, the same that I would never find out there, but rather the kind one can only find within.

So today, I sit sipping mint tea. Happy. In this moment. There’s a set of centering stone rings on my tan fingers, a streak of henna in my hair, a sparkling gem in my nose, and a big smile on my face…

Today, there are tears in my eyes but my throat is free, and my voice is strong, and I can proudly say I'm happy to be where I am
Today, there are tears in my eyes but my throat is free, and my voice is strong, and I can proudly say I’m happy to be where I am.

A year ago, I had tears in my eyes. Tears of sadness, depression, anger, confusion..

Today, I still have tears in my eyes. But now, these tears couldn’t come from a more beautiful place. These are tears of gratitude! Tears of strength! Tears of passion and power and hope and honesty! Tears of joy, and tears of truth.

Today, there are tears in my eyes but my throat is free, and my voice is strong, and I can proudly say I’m happy to be where I am, to have experienced all that I have, and to be headed toward a mysterious place that can only be full of blessings and exciting, welcomed challenges.

Life is good, you know. And life is ever-changing. And anything is possible, always.

Give thanks today for the blessings of yesterday, of now, and of each tomorrow to come.

Thank you, Universe. So very much. xxoo

And thank you, above-mentioned soul sisters for all the kindness and love you showered on this curly-haired puppy left out in the rain on her own (truth be told — she let herself out and then stubbornly refused to come back in. what a silly puppy she was!). I love you, so very much! 

 

Starting the descent: Reflections on going up and going in.

… He who kisses joy as it flies by will live in eternity’s sunrise. — William Blake …

Image

Tomorrow morning I start the descent. Slowly going inward and challenging my body, testing my power over the mind, questioning my soul… It makes me think. I’ve come to an important realization yet again — one I’ve come to many times and one that never fails to bring me peace.

Life isn’t always easy, but it is always beautiful, and it is always a blessing. Life is always a gift.

If we let ourselves be present in each leg of this journey called life, we’ll recognize everything, always, is perfect. The “plans” that don’t go as planned — the events that are less than glamorous — our internal battles that break us, allowing for rebuilding — the tests and trials of our physical and mental bodies — the fear-inducing awakening of the spirit — all is perfect and just as it should be.

From the first flutter of the eyelids each day and their first glimpse of the morning sun, to the first breath of air, first sip of water… To the shelter above our heads, whatever it may be, to the clothes and jewelry adorning our temples of flesh… To the simple exchange with another soul, reminding us we’re never alone… All are blessings, and all are deserving of our unending gratitude. We’re blessed to be alive, right here, right now… We’ve been given a gift of grace that allows us to have the simple sweet pleasures of the human life.

 

Anjali = gift of grace. "...This human life in this physical world is a gift of grace, meant to be enjoyed, savored, respected..."
Anjali = gift of grace.
“…This human life in this physical world is a gift of grace, meant to be enjoyed, savored, respected…”

In sanskrit, the word for this gift of grace is anjali. We use the term “anjali mudra” for the hand gesture of placing the palms together in front of the heart center (this is also called namaskar mudra). Each time we press our hands together, we recognize that this human life in this physical world is a gift of grace, meant to be enjoyed, savored, respected… Our lives are designed for giving love and thanks to the Universe for the endless blessings we experience.

This word has been resonating with my heart since I first discovered it a few weeks ago in India. It is the perfect word for this journey… The journey of life, but also my current journey of discovery — inside my mind, and inside the heart of the Himalayas — is truly a gift.

But my insecure mind and fearful self questions this grace… Who am I to deserve beauty? What have I done to deserve sweetness and love and connection and adventure? Why is my life a reservoir for truth, one that is full of the nectar of goodness and hope, one that is designed to share and educate and inspire?

The simple answer is this: I am. I have gratitude. It is.

That’s it! We’ve been given all these blessings in a compassionate offering of love from the Universe. We don’t need to further question or contemplate, because after we start to see our lives for what they really are, we accept that everything is exactly as it should be. Deserving or not-deserving is irrelevant because our lives and experiences are provided to us for our appreciation and growth.

Our only task is to live genuinely, from the heart, guided by intuition and an honest love for all…

Once we make it our pure, heartfelt mission to be the most authentic version of ourselves, always, life will unfold effortlessly to us. All of our lives are destined for greatness and are designed in such a way that we can only follow the unique path so perfectly plotted for each of us. Even when it doesn’t seem to “fit” into the bigger picture, each of our experiences are connecting points on our route.

All of us, each and every one (yes, you!) has a gift to share with the world that will help it become a better place for the other souls sharing this space in this time. Maybe that gift is teaching, or sharing, or entertaining, or caring, or healing… Maybe this is done in a yoga hall as far from home as one could get, or maybe it’s done in a church, an office, a hospital, a home… Scene and setting are constantly changing, but each scene and setting we find ourselves in needs our presence. Each moment of our lives should be an act of selfless giving to the world.

So today, as I pack my trekking bag and prepare for the physical ascent of climbing up to 4,100 meters, I reflect on the descent I’m about to make back into myself, one that will help to further set my foundation, open my awareness, and inspire my physical body and mind to continue on. A solo journey of 9 or so days into the jungles, the farms, the high desert, and the snow-covered mountains of Nepal, and into my heart….

I want to encourage each of you to take a few moments to reflect on your own journey. Where are you in this life? Who are you? …now forget these things you think, and then feel… Now feel where you are, and who you are…

Do you need to peel back a few layers and reveal more warmth? Are you ready to dust off any dirt and grime and polish your spirit? Is it time to let your authentic self lead the way for a change? If you are, let it be… It’s the age of awakening, and maybe, just maybe, it’s your unique time to wake up… ❤

Namaste, beautiful souls. Shanti om. xxoo

Yoga is discipline.

"You will never know who you are if you have not disciplined yourself to know who you are." -- Yogi Bhajan
“You will never know who you are if you have not disciplined yourself to know who you are.” — Yogi Bhajan

Each bone and each muscle in my body aches. I walk with a slight limp because my hamstrings and glutes are tight and painful from a dozen too many parvrtta parvottanasana. My biceps feel as if they’re constantly flexed, and truth be told, maybe they are.

My thinking mind, my ego, does not want to practice this morning. I do not want to do five hours of asana today, or tomorrow, or each day in this remaining week of yoga teacher training.

I want to sleep, to rest, to raise my feet and watch a movie and snuggle with a man…

But, I won’t be doing any of that today. Or tomorrow. I haven’t done this for nearly a month, and I won’t be doing this for the foreseeable future.

I am a yoga teacher, in training, and I know that to walk the yogic path, one that may lead to greater awareness and therefore to a greater good for all, I must dedicate my days to something larger than myself. I must adopt the practices perfected thousands of years ago — I must walk the eight-fold path the best I can.

I must have discipline.

It’s 5:30 a.m. I woke up at 5:00, drank from a copper pot filled with water, prayed and gave thanks for all the blessings in my life, layered a long tank over a sports bra and leggings…

In thirty minutes, I’ll march, barefooted, up white marble stairs to a long, narrow, window-lined yoga hall above my head, and wait patiently, without complaint, for my Ashtanga master to open the door. He’ll command the room from the moment he walks in. With a red tika ablaze on his skin, still fresh and tight from a morning dip in the Ganga, his brahmin dread will bounce slightly as he breezes past myself and a dozen other westerners from half as many countries. He’ll remove his watch and bracelet, adjust the waistband on his shorts, step atop a teaching platform and onto a long blue mat. Then, he’ll turn to face us. His students.

He’s been awake since 4:00. He’s already done his own self-practice, a physically and mentally challenging style of yoga that he’s been practicing since his early teenage years. He perfected each posture, pose by pose, until his own master said he was ready to continue, moving on to the next position in the primary series. Before he even learned samasthiti, he swept and scrubbed the floors of his yogshala for 6 months — only then did his teacher tell him he could begin to learn the practice we know in the west as yoga — physical asana designed to prepare a body for comfortable seated meditation in which one can turn inward, and leave the physical body behind.

Now, a dozen years later, he still is practicing yoga asana and hasn’t progressed to the next rung of the ladder — pranayama — but yet he is more knowledgeable in yogasana technique, physical anatomy, and the arts of instruction and adjustment than any teacher I’ve practiced under in my six years of studio classes.

This man is a yogi with discipline.

I admire his dedication — something I can only hope to develop through years of faith in this practice, and to living a life based on mindful awareness, each and every day. It isn’t easy, for anyone, regardless if you were born in the birthplace of yoga or in the concrete jungles of North America or Japan.

But who ever said yoga was easy?

Yoga is one path to enlightenment, for all who show up. If followed, with dedication and faith, under the guidance of a guru or teacher (at least at first), each of us can progress past the partial ignorance and clouded minds of our lives and move into a place of peace and clarity — we can attain a one-pointed mind and see with near-full awareness the experience of living.

We must act as the self-realized master, living and breathing this life with intention, playing the part until we become the character himself.
We must act as the self-realized master, living and breathing this life with intention, playing the part until we become the character himself.

But first, we must give ourselves to the practice.

We must develop routine. Devotion.

We must have faith in the practice, then commit — bodies, minds, and spirits.

We must act as the self-realized master, living and breathing this life with intention, playing the part until we become the character himself.

Yoga is discipline. Are you sure you’re ready?

If so, join me on this journey. A journey we can start together but that we must commit to, even if that means walking alone.