Sacred Space

February 21, 2013

Most of us have probably wished, more than often, for all the free time in the world to do ‘whatever we please’.  I know I have.  On those days when I didn’t want to go to work, or school, I would think… “man, if I could just do anything I want, like work on my art all the time….everything would just be so much better.”  I’m sure I envisioned these large swatches of time with my being physically able to do all the things desired.  I saw myself as busy and productive and happy…but on my terms.  Nothing dictated or foretold.  Just wide open space and creativity.

I was so naive.

Now that I am mostly at home, because of my back, with limited ability to do many things…all I see and feel is the space around me.  I am like a bug trapped in amber.  The space that surrounds me feels solid and unmovable, and most days I am completely stymied as to what to do with myself.  I work some on my art when and where my back says I can sit or stand, yet it isn’t enough.  I read books, and as much as I love to read…it isn’t enough.  I interact with friends, family, our cats, or my computer as much as I usually do, yet that also isn’t enough.  I seem to have some internal measure of satisfaction that is old and no longer useful.  I have been trained to “do”, not to “be”.  We all are.

What does it take to find solace and fulfillment in the nothingness?  What does it take to find peace in the spaces of time?  I honestly don’t know.  What I do think I am beginning to realize, however, is that there is something sacred that is missing in the experience of being this new me.  I do not use this term lightly.  There has to be a larger sense of Self in the quiet and the non-doing.  Surely I am more than my accomplishments and a healthy back?  I know this in my mind, yet I don’t yet know it in my experience.  What I see and feel now is the absence of my former self, however distracted I was by the things I managed to do.

I know I have been handed an opportunity to know myself in an entirely different way.  This is just a different experience, right?  I did not expect to have the back I do at ‘almost-50’, yet I do.  Most times I don’t feel sorry about it all, I just want to know how to live this way.  I want to rise to the occasion, as corny as that might sound.  I want to resonate in this space…not stagnate and deflate.

Maybe if I turn my head just right, out of the corner of my eye, I will catch a glimpse of a new path.  I will be wise enough to follow it, and be curious enough and open enough to allow the empty space to simply fill me.  Maybe then, I will find my own sacred space…

 

rice-goddess

Back to the Future…

December 21, 2012

Thursday evening, December 20, 2012.  A typical winter’s evening, yet also the eve of the Mayan predicted ‘shift in consciousness’, or to many believers, the end of the world as we know it.  I feel pretty certain that tomorrow will be just like any other day.  Part of me longs for something more dramatic.  Nothing hurtful or dangerous, just ‘something’ enough to tip the balance into a ‘better world’, whatever that may mean…

Interesting how when there are major shifts happening on larger scales, we often have our own microcosm of that shift in our own lives.  I have such a thing in mine.  Saturday will be my last day at the salon where I have worked for about a year, and probably my last day being a hair stylist, in any career-type sense of the word.  My back simply won’t allow me to do things I used to be able to do.  Something as simple as sweeping the floor is no longer the same, so it’s far beyond whether or not I can stand and cut hair.  My physical self is altered.  Different.

I’m getting better at accepting this for ‘what it is’.  Most days I can maintain a neutral stance about it all, and other days I feel sorry for myself.  Some days the pain isn’t bad at all, and I pretend it’s not real.  Mostly I know that life is different now, and I move forward into a future that is not at all certain when it comes to what will happen with my back.  Maybe I will have surgery next year.  Maybe it won’t be for a while, and maybe there will be miracles.  I leave the door open for all of it.  I have to.  I’m no longer driving this bus.

The funny thing is, though…*this* back thing has made me realize that we are delusional if we ever think we know what the future may hold. We don’t.  We can hope, pray, wish, believe, strive for, and behave as if we have a clue, but we really don’t.  And, the most interesting thing I’ve realized out of all of this is that it’s really much, much easier to accept that we don’t know.  Staying neutral and involved and as present to the moment as possible is my goal.  Leaving the doors open for possibilities, whatever ‘they’ may be, and judgment out of the picture as much as I am able, is a goal…  This ‘revelation’ of mine might be akin to what all the hippies were talking about in the 60’s:   “Be here now, Man…”  Funny how it is much more than just a catchy phrase to me now…

So, onward into the unknown we all go…be that December 21st, 2012 or January 1st, 2013, etc., etc.  As I sit here tonight, I realize again, and perhaps, still…that it really doesn’t matter what happens.  Tonight I have a warm house, sweet cats, a loving partner, and a decent book to read before sleep.

Bring it on.

Spine_tattoo_example_by_anchica

 

Bits and Pieces…

July 16, 2012

Years ago when I was as nursing student during my psych clinicals, I heard a story about a schizophrenic man who claimed he lost his body parts and would periodically have to go and retrieve them.  He would be sitting, quite ordinarily, and say something like, “oops…there goes my liver…did you see it?  Guess I’ll have to go and get it…”  This would go on for some time until he had lost a sufficient amount of bits he had to collect.  Where he went on these journeys is anyone’s guess, but he spent weeks at a time becoming ‘whole’ once again.

I’ve been thinking about this patient today, for I wonder if it isn’t somewhat true that we need to go and collect the bits and pieces of ourselves left behind, willy-nilly, throughout the years.  Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Without going on a huge diatribe of all the stops I would make if I could go back and retrieve bits of myself; I can easily say I would start in second grade and pick up my humiliated heart off the floor and give the teacher a swift kick on the way out the door.  I would then stop off in high school and gather *all* the personal space and boundaries that were trodden by the likes of one instructor in particular.  Nor would I hesitate to give this jerk a punch in the mouth, either.  I’m sure there would be ‘relationship stops’, and ‘family dynamic’ stops, but I think you get my point.

Geez…  The list is endless.  I suspect we all have such lists.  No one is exempt from the bites and stings of life, yet I think this may be an interesting notion:  what if we can/could go back and get the pieces left behind?  Metaphorically speaking, of course.  Even if it is imaginary, much like the patient who ‘lost’ his liver … what if it makes you feel better to visualize the retrieval, the rescue?  What if it makes you feel more whole??

Maybe it is worth the trip…

The road traveled…

March 23, 2012

When I went back to school in my 30’s to study art… it didn’t seem so crazy.  When I went back to school at 47 to study hair design, it seemed kind of whacky, but bold and courageous, indeed.  I was starting over, yet again!  How cool was that?

Most days, I am really just fine with the notion that I have a lot to learn, and so I keep learning and trying and getting better.  Some days, like yesterday, all I see is the distance in front of me, not so much as a beckoning force, but more like a daunting task.  I’m tired, I guess.  I’m almost 50, and some days… as I felt yesterday, I would rather be old and wise and accomplished.  I would like to be the one that others come to for advice on how to proceed, not the one always having to ask about how best to proceed.  Yes, I have a wide range of experiences and a passel of knowledge about a ton of things, but some days, I just wish I hadn’t set the bar so high at this stage of the game.

None of this is to say, however, that I don’t like what I do… for I do.  Some days… it’s just a lot.

I blogged a while back about a woman named, Jan Frazier, who wrote, When Fear Falls Away.  I had the opportunity to speak with her, recently, and it was a treat, indeed.  Her voice is as soothing as her words, and one can actually believe that expansiveness and peacefulness are possible just by listening to her speak.

One of the things she mentioned to me about her awakening is that she felt such utter compassion for the person she had been as she looked back on her life.  She said is was an almost overwhelming sense that *no matter what*, she had always done the best she could do.  She knew this deeply as an awakened soul, despite how things may have looked for her in the past.

I just had a glimpse of this feeling.  I was rowing and listening to Krisha Das, while staring at one of my quilts hanging on the wall.  I thought about how I had made that quilt with my eyes, my hands, my arms, and my fingers.  Then I thought about all the things I have made, and all the things I have been able to do because I have a body, and how lucky was I to have been able to do any of them?  How could I possibly ever turn a critical eye to a wrinkle or a roll of fat if such wondrous things came from being in this particular body?

Maybe Jan wasn’t talking about the physical when she mentioned this feeling to me, but what I felt sure was compassion for my body.  I’m a judgmental old bore when it comes to putting myself under the microscope with a critical eye, and for a moment…an exquisite moment of reprieve, I felt compassion and true appreciation for the body in which I reside.

How cool is that?  How crazy is it that we don’t all feel this way, all the time?

As I truly start to sense what it is like to stop the madness of useless and hurtful thoughts, and live in a place of neutrality (at least), I realize that there is a whole other world just a hair’s breadth away from this one.  Jan is right.  It has been there the whole time, just waiting for me.  It’s waiting for you, too.  All of us.  Peace really is possible.

 

 

And so begins the task…

August 16, 2011

It’s been a long time since I’ve written.  Since March, actually, and it’s not so much that I haven’t had anything about which to write, I’ve just been focused on graduating from cosmetology school, and it certainly took a lot of bandwidth to do so.  As of July 29th, I can put a check in the box next to that endeavor!

Two weeks later (or there about), it is now, “New Career Eve”, as tomorrow I will begin my job as a hairstylist at LaSienne Salon & Day Spa.  I passed my written exam with a 93%, and will take my practical exam Monday, August 22nd at 8am.  After this final hurdle, I will officially be deemed a licensed cosmetologist.  Finally.

Even though it’s probably silly at this juncture to be nervous about stepping onto the salon floor tomorrow, I find that I am.  What is it about starting new jobs?  Though I feel confident in my ability to figure out the ‘lay of the land’ quite quickly, and in my abilities as a stylist, there is always that dreaded “new-kid-on-the-block” tinge.  Fortunately, it is somewhat like stage fright.  Once you actually get going, it dissolves quite quickly.  Let’s hope for that reprieve, indeed!

I’m proud of my accomplishments and am excited about this new venture!  Lee helped me set up my station last weekend, and he said, “you are going to have fun here…”.  What a perfect way to see this next phase in my life!  Fun! Having fun!  🙂

Tomorrow is not just the first day of the rest of my life (thanks, Dad), or the first day at my new job, it is the first time in my life that I truly feel in harmony with what I am doing and who I am as a person, both inside and out.  I get to be the groovy hair stylist/artist I always wanted to be!

Now, that’s a day to celebrate!

 

Non-causal Joy…

March 21, 2011

I’m reading a book by a woman named, Jan Frazier.  It’s titled, “When Fear Falls Away:  A Story of a Sudden Awakening”.  I am fascinated by this story.  I want to be her, yet of a version that is exquisitely, me.  I want to be in the space she describes; fearless and joy-filled.  Connected and expanded…every day and all days.

I am not exactly sure what happened to this woman, and I doubt she really is, either, yet in essence; she asked to be free of her crippling fears, and was freed.  What followed for her was a complete transformation of herself as a person, and a new way of seeing and being in this world.

“Imagine this: whatever has weighed on you suddenly no longer weighs. It may still be there, a fact in your life, but it has no mass, no gravity. All that has ever troubled you is now just a feature of the landscape, like a tree, a passing cloud. Every bit of emotional and mental turmoil has ceased: the entire burden, some form of which has been with you as long as you can remember. A thing familiar as your closest friend — as much a part of you as the language you speak, the color of your skin — is utterly, inexplicably gone. Into the startling emptiness flows a quiet joy that buoys you morning, noon, and night, that goes everywhere you go, into any kind of circumstance, even into sleep. Everything you undertake happens effortlessly. You are happy, but for no reason. Nothing bothers you. You feel no stress. When a problem arises, you know what to do, you do it, and then you let it go. . . . Because your equanimity is disconnected from anything in your outer life, you know that no matter what challenge you are handed — for the rest of your life — the peace will sustain.”

Jan Frazier, book excerpt

Is this possible for me?  Can I ask for the same?  Am I ready?  I want so much to be ready.

If it’s a choice, I choose.  If I need but ask, I ask.  And, in the end, if all I need do is receive, then I receive…



Buttons

February 11, 2011

You know how most people have certain topics that tend to bring up a myriad of emotions when touched?  Things like, “wow, that really pushed her button”, might be heard in response after seeing such a thing.  I suppose we all have buttons, and I doubt that all are ‘negative’ or bad.  I probably have a button that when pushed reminds me of all the times I’ve been to the ocean.  Any and all oceans, and how good they always make me feel.

Most of the time, however, I notice that when one of my buttons is pushed, it sends off an alarm through ancient halls of crusty, beat up old emotions that come screaming out of hiding.  These fun-filled relics are generally reluctant to return to their dark existence.  They stomp around and rant and rave about their theme de jour, causing distress and unrest.

I’m going to shoot for clearing out all of this drab and used up crap in lieu of sending it back down to the depths, only to have it ‘re-booted’ should said button ever be pushed again.

I’m all for the notion of having buttons that no longer work.  Kind of like a doorbell that doesn’t resound throughout the house when pushed.

Sorry.  No one home…

 

 

Roommates…

February 8, 2011

Once upon a time, in a land not too far away from this one, lived two women; conjoined by birth, yet completely and utterly different from one another as any two beings can be.  Since there was no undoing the proximity they would always have to one another, they tried, initially, to get along.  This did not work well.

They took turns being ‘in charge’, yet their behaviors and beliefs were so contrary to one another’s that they appeared unstable, unreliable, and insane.  This also did not work.

Once upon a time soon after this time, a stranger approached the unlikely duo and made a simple and profound observation:  “Maybe the whole key to your existence is to understand that you don’t have to get along??  You don’t have to meld and mesh into one being?  What if it’s perfectly understandable that the best you can achieve is acceptance of one other?”

Whoa.  The two looked at each other and wondered how it would be if they stopped fighting?  What would it be like to just accept each other’s presence?  Would this be possible?  What would they do with their time if they didn’t have the perpetual struggle?

Perhaps they would have time.  Time to be…

This is a silly story, perhaps.  But…it is relevant.  I learned something today.  I learned that a truce is perfectly acceptable when you are dealing with your own personal demons.  A truce is acceptable when looking at contrary parts of your psyche.  Sometimes the easiest, most painless, and most enlightened road is that of the peaceful warrior.   When you lay down all the pre-conceived notions of how you should be, and how you should react, and what it is to be enlightened.  What if the kindest, most rational and sane thing you can *ever* do is to accept that which is?  The differences, the conflicts, the emotions, and all the ‘humanness” in which we are all intertwined?

What if?

Good, bad…right, wrong…

January 23, 2011

I saw the movie, Black Swan, recently.  It was OK, I guess.  Natalie Portman was pretty impressive in both her dancing and her acting, yet the overall story lacked some “meat” for me.  It does have me pondering the notion of duality and sanity, however.  I think I have blogged on this subject before, or at least touched upon it, so perhaps I am nuts and have multiple personalities…or, perhaps we all do… to some extent.

Once upon a time when I used to meditate more regularly, I would sometimes “see” a certain other aspect of me.  She was typically sulking in a chair, sort of defiantly un-groomed, with lots of anger about a lot of things.  I would think, “geez, why is this part of me so pissed off?”  I would try to engage this ‘me’ in conversation, in said meditation, yet it would usually just be a rant about all of the reasons why the anger was justified.

Maybe whenever we judge, condemn, criticize, or otherwise label a part of ourselves as “bad”, or “wrong”, or ” not good enough”, etc., etc…. we help create this personality that feels so slighted?  The part that eventually has a huge fodder on which to feed the anger.

I’m guilty of this, pretty much on a regular basis.  My overall sense of who I am is that I am a person who wants to be nice, play nice, and share my toys.  I do have my days, however, where this is not the case.  On such days, whenever I criticize myself, for being “selfish, or strict, or ungenerous, or inflexible”, perhaps I just add fuel to a never ending fire?  Maybe it’s ok to just acknowledge that you don’t always feel nice?  Don’t always feel like sharing, or being gracious?  Is that really so bad??

I’m not advocating for the negative, or for the willy nilly rampage of our more ‘unpleasant’ selves,  just wondering if the constant assignment of good or bad, or right or wrong is damaging to one’s psyche?  The whole adage of “what you resist, persists”.

I wonder if Natalie’s character in the movie hadn’t so severely separated the parts of her self, would there have been the eventual split?  What if she were to have been able to find a common ground between the two impulses?  What if she hadn’t assigned a label to the more wild and passionate ‘other self’?  What if she had accepted the fact that she was, indeed, a multi-faceted person?  Would she have held onto her sanity??

Hey. It’s a movie, right?  Perhaps she was just nuts and was doomed from the get go.  I don’t know… I just know it has me wondering…

 

 

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