Running Down a Dream

I’ve been visited by dead people before.  It’s pretty common for me.  When someone I love dies, they will visit me in a dream. We may chat, or have a picnic, or cry together.  It’s a sweet way to get closure, and I can always tell when a dream is not just a dream, but a visit.  I’m grateful for whatever part of me is open enough to let them through.  Sometimes other people’s loved ones come to me in dreams, too, and ask me to relay messages, which I do.  I know there are plenty of people out there who don’t believe in this sort of thing, to which I’ll now respond with my favorite Nicolas Cage quote (from City of Angels) – “Some things are true whether you believe in them or not.”

 

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This is my Sincere Face.

Last night, I had a dream that was a visitation.  It was about Tom Petty.  Yes, the celebrity/singer/songwriter/cowboy/Traveling Wilbury.  That one.   I have always felt a special connection to Tom’s music, since I was a kid I’ve loved his songs and identified with his lyrics. I was sad, as a lot of people were, to hear of his passing and disappointed that I’d never been to see him in concert.  It wasn’t something I dwelled on, though, and as life does, mine moved on.

So the last few nights I have had some strange and colorful dreams.  I attribute it to the full moon + partial lunar eclipse in Capricorn (don’t get me started on Capricorn).  Last night’s dream was colorful and lively, but different. If you’ve had visitations you know what I’m talking about.  It’s almost like lucid dreaming, in that you’re aware something is different and this moment should be cherished, you try to look around and remember things because you know it will be over soon and you don’t want it to be.  At the same time you’re trying to listen and pay attention to whatever wisdom the visitor is there to impart.

I won’t detail the whole dream, but I will say that the part that felt most important had to do with my boots (navy blue Doc Martens with a zipper on the heel) and his boots (unknown brand).  We compared boots.  Tom Petty gave me some tips on how to care for mine, and how to make the leather feel smooth and buttery like his.  (Yes, I felt Tom Petty’s boots, and yes, they were as soft and luxurious as you might imagine.)

The other important part had to do with him having daughters.  One a brunette, she had a little chubby-cheek face and a dress on and she was precocious and chatty.  I mark this as important because it wasn’t something I knew about him.  I didn’t know TP had children at all, and I had to look it up on the internet to confirm it.  Two daughters, according to Google, and according to Dream Tom.  That, for me, is a confirmation.

All of this has left me with a sincere curiosity, and a hope that maybe the great Tom Petty is one of my spirit guides.   He’s not the first person to visit me after passing, but he is one of the most interesting and I hope we get to chat again.

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Damn the Torpedoes. My guides are cooler than yours.

A couple important notes about dream visitations: Our loved ones, guides, anyone on that plane can take on any form.  My grandfather sometimes visits as the “him” I remember, and sometimes as his younger self.  Tom Petty went back and forth between young and old, seeming equally comfortable with all of his different human “selves”.  Also, visitations are not usually romantic in nature (unless the person was a romantic partner, and even then it’s not likely.)  If you dream about making out with Steve McQueen in the back of a limo it is probably a wish-fulfillment dream courtesy of your own subconscious, and not an actual visit.

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Knock, Knock

Hello

My name is Healing.

I came here to allow your vulnerability, to show you truth, and to wrap you up in the warm blanket of trust.

Hello

My name is Forgiveness.

I came here to help you embrace your humanity, and to learn grace and non-judgement of self.

Hello

My name is Compassion.

I came here to give purpose to your pain, and to show you that we are all connected. We are one.

Hello

My name is Love.

I came here to speak wholeness into your fragmented spirit. To infuse your soul with divine light. To help you see that your worthiness is inherent, and peace is your birthright.

May we come in?

She is Fierce

There’s an overused quote (well, let’s call it a quote particle, since like many other quotes it is rarely used in full context).  You’ve probably seen it on t-shirts and Facebook pages and inspirational Instagram posts:

“…and though she be but little, she is fierce.”

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[[Yes, the nerd in me – the scholar that I imagine I am – the bookworm who spent a few months in college – does get annoyed when people say things without truly understanding them.  When quotes are pulled from the sky without any kind of appreciation for the words that encapsulate them.  When some of history’s most talented authors are reduced to snappy pink lettering in a mere 1080 pixels by people who may never discover the masterful works they belong to.

This misused morsel of verse currently making the rounds as a girl power anthem is actually part of a comedy by William Shakespeare called A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It isn’t as much a statement on a woman’s strength as it is an insult to a certain character’s (Hermia) diminutive size.   Her sister describes her as a vixen (a hellcat) in their school years.  She is a hot head.  A brawler.

Once insulted, she objects to being called “little” or “tiny” and is subsequently referred to as a “dwarf” and a “minimus of hindering knotgrass (a weed)”.  A bead.  An acorn.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but that’s certainly not how this powerful woman would like to be described.

For the purposes of this blog, though, I am willing to put all that aside, so please keep reading…]]

I took a gentle vinyasa yoga class this morning and enjoyed it immensely.  It’s a class unlike most of the others I take at the gym, because instead of intense exercise and lots of sweat, vinyasa is more about finding my center, focusing, and learning to balance.  It’s a class I deeply appreciate because all my other classes are pretty brutal, and it gives me a chance to re-connect with my body and check in with myself while still working my muscles. It’s a challenging class, too, because while the other classes concentrate on strength and agility, gentle vinyasa is all about the core – the part that keeps me stable and holds me up when things get hard.

What makes a person fierce?

As I squeezed my eyes shut tight in some desperate attempt to concentrate and steady myself in Half Moon Pose, I thought about the importance of repose, especially in the midst of struggle.  Gentleness as essential for fighting.  Peace as a means to win wars.  The ability to stop and re-center, to take inventory and  in order to prepare for what lies ahead and recover from what has already been accomplished.

Warriors have that. Leaders have that.

I talk a lot about having the heart of a lion, or the raging fire that burns inside me and drives me forward, but so seldom do I mention the stillness.  The wise man.  He is not the thunderous voice that yells at me to keep fighting.  He is the low, barely detectable whisper that summons my spirit to simply continue living.  He is my perseverance.  Perhaps surprisingly, he is the most important part of my inner workings.  Every day I seek him out – whether to read a book, to take a walk, to sit with myself and take deep breaths – I know that I need him if I am to continue to conquer and reach my goals.

Reflecting on some conversations I’ve had this week, I keep coming back to this quote.

…and though she be but little, she is fierce. 

Little and fierce.  Yes, I am. Have I always been fierce?  Undoubtedly.  Both of my parents tell stories of my defiant nature, my strong will, my refusal to accept that something is true just because someone else says so.  Is fierce something I became after years of feeling underestimated and discounted because of my size, or my lack of experience, or my gender?  Yes, absolutely.  I know what it’s like to be underestimated, ignored, dismissed.  The truth, then, is both – my fierce is a healthy mix of nature and nurture.

Similarly, three-year-old son is a bear to deal with sometimes and I honestly think part of his rage stems from being the smallest in the family.  He wants so much to be big like his brother and he just isn’t yet – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable, or smart, or brave, and he will make damn sure you don’t forget it.  He is wild, and loud, and so very confident.  He’s got a walk that’s so self-assured most grown men would be envious.  He has much to prove and yet he does not want your approval.

The other side of that coin, the side that few people get to see, is the sweet and curious boy who seeks out his mommy at night in order to climb into her lap and sit.  He doesn’t want anything else – just to be still, together.  Gentle and quiet and safe, he snuggles up against me to be reminded that he is protected, and to rest before the next day of wrestling giants begins.  As is true with all the world-changers that have gone before him, he needs a time of respite and a place to feel grounded in order to find his fearlessness.

I believe this is a common thread woven in the stories of history’s overcomers.  The one quality that separates losers from victors.  Stillness.  Perseverance.  A willingness –  a compulsion, even – to come back to ourselves, to re-align and re-group.  To “huddle up”, as my dad says.  This is the calm, stable part that holds us up when things get hard.  The well from which courage is drawn.  It is almost indescribable to those who do not know it, and invaluable to those who do.

Fierceness is about so much more than fighting, and size is irrelevant to heart.  It has nothing to do with being combative or loud and everything to do with quiet stillness.  It is not the obvious drawing of a sword on the battlefield.  It is in the moments we don’t talk about enough – the in-between times when we reflect on how far we’ve come and steel ourselves for what is next.  It is in the ability to pause, reflect, balance, breathe, and focus.

In life, as in vinyasa, it is not the arms or the legs that keep me balanced, but the core.  My inner workings, where sits a small whispering voice that beckons me onward, even on the toughest of days.  Fierceness is born in the moments of quiet determination and reflection.  It is not the roar of the lion or the lap of the wildfire flames that make a great warrior, but the less obvious, less celebrated, sheer will to remain steady and to keep moving forward.

…and though I be but little, I. AM. FIERCE.

 

 

 

torment

moonlight dipped

honey eyes

candy lips

satin thighs

chocolate hair

velvet skin

freckle constellations

Cheshire grin

radiant goddess

white devil, red queen

dark silhouette

possessor of dreams

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I am the wounded healer.

I don’t want you to feel guilty.  You couldn’t have prevented this.  Bleeding things are my weakness and your soul is made of my own.  You were a gift from the moon herself, one I could not accept. But you promised.  I have loved you before I knew who you were, before I even met me…

I cut myself open to show you

That I hurt, too

My soul dripped out

Onto your hands

And we danced…

The beginning was different.  You were not like the others, then you slowly recovered and I reluctantly discovered… it wasn’t real.  It never was, it could not be.  It’s ok.  I understand.  Many have sought my radiating light. Your morning star. Temporary.  Like a storm that rolls in after a week of beautiful sunshine, I knew this would come.  Expected.  I hoped I was wrong, hoped I could believe my dreams, hoped there was a place for us.  You promised.

In the end I will be hollow

Drained from loving

All I see in that place

Is your face

Outer space

I have learned to keep my distance.  I will learn to shut my mouth, not let it out.  Do not be seen.  They don’t like that.  Vulnerable. Be strong instead.  Amuse them, but never reveal yourself.  Do not speak of love or sadness or longing.  Albatross. A lesson.  A gift. …but he promised.

There is no heart in me

It sits, unbeating, next to you

Whatever you do

Please don’t

Throw it away

I want you to know you are different.  You are everything.  You are the resplendent beach house I could never really afford. I will miss you in the way one misses a beautiful thing that was not theirs to keep. I’ll hide the photographs on my bookshelf.  I’ll whisper your name in my sleep.  I’ll hear your voice in crowded rooms and echoes of your laughter in other universes not yet imagined. I promise.

(I love you.)

 

City of Hearts

I’ve just returned from Paris, and I will never be the same.

That is the long and short of it.  If you stopped reading right here, you’d understand the general sentiment of this blog post.  I spent a week in a city I hadn’t seen in 27 long years, and in that week I found my heart and promptly lost it again.

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Arriving at the CDG Airport

The last time I was in Paris, I was 11 years old. It was my second trip to Europe, thanks to my generous grandparents, who splurged so the whole family could go on vacation together.  I don’t remember much about the trip, beyond the sandwiches on the trains and how much I enjoyed Orangina.

Experiencing this beautiful city at the age of 38 was like seeing it for the very first time.  It was cold and overcast much of the time, which I think added a bit of mystique to an already fascinating place.  I didn’t have a plan for sight-seeing, just a list of “must do’s” and a little bit of money in my pocket.  (Truth be told, I relied heavily on my credit cards for certain things, like Uber and Lyft when I didn’t want to take the Metro.)

I found Paris, as a friend predicted I would, much changed.  There were no painters perched along the bridges on the Seine, and I don’t know if that’s because they don’t go out in the Winter months, or because they don’t go out at all any more.  All of the gift shops in the heavy traffic areas carry the same merchandise.  There is a heavy Muslim presence there, which I found surprising, and I worry that the French way of life is being diluted.

Still, the good far outweighed the bad.  While I had heard that there were dangerous areas and “no-go zones” as well as Yellow Vest (Gillets Jaunes) protests going on, I didn’t see any of it.  I, along with my husband, brother, and sister-in-law, traipsed around at leisure and fortunately saw everything I wanted to in the week I was there.

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Notre Dame Cathedral – Stunning!

Paris as a city has a pulse. There are a LOT of people there, and it’s a lot like New York in that it’s always moving, always breathing.  People walk everywhere here, and they walk quickly.  I had to really hoof it to keep up.  It’s no wonder they’re all thin, even with all the bread consumption. They ride bikes and take the metro, and they all seemed like they had somewhere important to be.

The people are also – in my opinion – very beautiful. (And not rude at all!  So friendly.)  The women wear minimal makeup and they look put together.  The men were dressed in long coats and scarfs, and were so handsome.  I am convinced I saw an actual supermodel once or twice on the street. Gorgeous gods and goddesses floating down the sidewalk faster than I could power walk.

What else? The food! Oh, the food! Incroyable! Magnifique! We ate at a different place for every meal, which was super fun and felt like real soul expansion.  I tried dishes that I hadn’t heard of and had chocolate mousse for lunch at least twice. I used my very best French to converse with Parisians, and they indulged me as I giggled out the words.

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A la marche – At the market

I so enjoyed the adventure of it all.  Figuring out the metro and getting lost in neighborhoods, only to find the cutest little cafes and bakeries (patisseries), and share laughs with the locals.  I hesitate to share too much here for fear of giving away the magic.

Paris is a city that has had my heart for a long time, and it recaptured my heart and spirit this week.  How is it possible that such a short trip could be so transformative? I think I know –  Total immersion in another culture, if you’re open to it, is instantly life-changing.  Simply seeing a world outside of the one you know. Realizing the world is so big and you are just a small part of it, and that people are at once so amazingly different and so very similar, leads to some shifting in the soul.  I am changed.  I will never be who I was before I left, and I’m so grateful for that.  I am already planning a return trip, as well as trips to other countries.

Until then, I have these most amazing photos and memories to hold close to my heart.

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Can you feel the joy? Radiating happiness.

 

Don’t Be Beige

Don’t be beige.

I scribbled the words excitedly in my journal like a 15 year old writing about her new crush.  So profound.  Or was it?  I can never tell with these thoughts that occur to me in the shower, or while driving around town, or while I’m half-watching Law & Order: SVU and half-making an imaginary grocery list.  (Does anyone else do that? I’d imagine it’s a normal part of life as a mom/household manager/toddler wrangler.)

Anyway… beige.  The walls in our apartment are beige. I don’t mind it.  It’s not particularly exciting, but it’s fine.  Beige is a neutral – one of the blending colors.  It’s a color that allows all the other decor to be seen. Beige is a good background because it isn’t memorable or noticeable. It does not stand out.

Don’t be beige is my new motto.  So what exactly do I mean when I say, “don’t be beige”?

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I mean show yourself.  Reveal who you are.  Don’t be afraid to live your life at full volume because you think someone else won’t like your song. In order to live a fulfilled life, you need to in full glory and magnificence, without any care for what anyone else thinks.

I think that people are comfortable being beige. Beige isn’t scary. I get that.  They feel beige is safe. It’s polite. It doesn’t offend. I tried to be beige, I tried to please people, tried to blend, tried to step back so others could have the attention.  While blending in and being beige may make others comfortable, ultimately living life this way ends in disappointment and regret.

Two major things I noticed while I was consciously camouflaging myself:

  • There is no benefit to me. – I gained nothing from stepping back, dimming my own light or quieting my passion.  Literally nothing good comes from silencing my voice so that someone else can speak.  I get no life experience, meet no new people, and receive no praise because no one sees me.  And ironically trying to please others didn’t make them like me more ore less.
  • There is no benefit to others. – The people who shine do that because of who they are. Colorful, magnetic, fun, talented. My beige-ness didn’t accentuate them. It only hid me. Worse, being beige causes me to miss out on contributing to the world in a way that only I can.

When I realized I wasn’t being my authentic self, I made a choice to be more colorful. I spoke up when I felt passionate.  I accepted invitations to parties.  I wore the sexy dress without worrying what someone else might think. Creatively, I have so much to give, and expressing that through writing, podcasting, and other venues allows me to contribute something tangible to the world.  My kids see me being silly and it shows them that they can be silly too.  I follow my own rules and beat my own drum and in the same way, peers and friends hear me telling my story and they are emboldened to tell their own.  It’s a beautiful domino effect.

These days, I have renovated my soul. There is no beige. I am memorable. I stand out. I am not a neutral, because I have a voice and I’m not afraid to be seen, and my home – and my whole world – is so much more colorful.

Jon Favreau, Spiritual Guru

“…the future is beautiful, alright? Look out the window. It’s sunny every day here. It’s like manifest destiny. Don’t tell me we didn’t make it. We made it! We are here. And everything that is past is prologue to this. All of the shit that didn’t kill us is only… you know, all that shit. You’re gonna get over it.” – Rob (Ron Livingston), Swingers

I’ve been thinking a lot about destiny. What it is, what it means, how it works.

Every day when I pull a tarot card or cards for the day, I journal them.  Sometimes at night I just play with the cards, trying to get a feel for them and for reading.  Last night I pulled some cards not to journal, but because I wanted an answer about something.

One of the cards that popped out was the Wheel of Fortune card (from the Wild Unknown Deck).  It’s a gorgeous card, messy and colorful and full of meaning.  At the top, a crescent moon and stars. The man picture of the card resembles a Native American medicine wheel that’s been made from yarn and twigs.  A colorless sun shines beneath the wheel. An owl sits perches atop the highest twig branch.

The meaning of this card is heavy. As a 10 card it represents completion – the end of a cycle. The Wheel itself represents change rolling in, sometimes good and sometimes uncomfortable, but always necessary. I see this card as a positive one, as change brings growth and growth leads us to our highest good.  In the guidebook, it says the Wheel of Fortune is the card of Destiny.

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The Wheel of Fortune (image from Google)

Long after I’d pulled the cards and studied them, I kept thinking about the concept of Destiny.  Is it something that happens, or something that just is?  Does it happen to us or for us?  Do we all face our destiny, do we create our destiny, do we have the power to change our destiny (because free will is obviously a thing).

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the truth of the wheel is much simpler than that. I hopped out of bed, grabbed my journal and a pen, and scribbled:

“What if it’s less about finding destiny or destiny happening to us? What if I AM destiny?”

Boom.  Lightning moment for me.  What if I – what if we all – have much more power than we believe, or were told, or have ever imagined possible, over our future and how our lives play out?

Maybe destiny is something that, on the path to spiritual enlightenment, we begin to meld with?  To have the thing, we must BE the thing, right?  To have joy, we must be joy.  To have love, we  must first be love.  This is how we match vibration and allow things to become true in our lives.

So… what if to activate a certain destiny, to realize our fate, all we have to do is become it?  Similar to a choose your own adventure novel, where one path leads to page 24 and another leads to page 116 and we get to decide our own ending.  What if that’s been the point all along?  Through shadow work, meditation, visualization, inspired action, learning, teaching, growing, loving, laughing, experiencing, and believing before we see, we both sketch out or own future – which is fluid and in motion, like the Wheel – and then step into it?

What an epiphany. That’s destiny, manifested.

 

Specifically

Silly rhymes and funny puns

Were a part of you

And your life so poured into mine,

They are a part of me, too.

I miss your humor and your laugh

Booming through the air

I miss the lessons I thought were play

And simply having you there.

Sneaking turkey in the kitchen

Trips to the symphony

You were the first person ever

To place real value in me.

Remember the time in Switzerland

Pretending, scientifically

What a magical time we had,

Thinking specifically.

Pictures, stories, memories

Keep you alive even now

I hope that you remember me too

As you sing your songs in the clouds.

Losing My Religion

I’m working on a book.  It’s a pretty involved process, and I am learning a lot as I go.  Thrilling, exciting, and … anxiety inducing.  Talking about the anxiety that used to run my life kinda makes me jittery.  I wouldn’t exactly say it’s a relapse, as much as it is recalling some of the old triggers that sent me into a tailspin.

The last few days I have been thinking a lot about religion in my life.  Growing up Catholic and attending a Catholic school, I took it all very seriously. I took for granted it was all true.  Even later, as an adult in the Southern Baptist church, I was a player in an elaborate game of Follow the Leader, even though many times I had no idea who that was or where we were supposed to be going.

Eventually my  husband and I had a falling out with our church – or, more specifically – our faith.  I have read accounts of others who have moments in their lives similar to what we had – an awakening, a change, growth, transition, you might even call it spiritual death, triggered by a great trauma or catastrophe.  For others, it’s the opposite, and such an event actually moves them towards the church.

Seeking answers, seeking truth.  Looking all around us for anything that makes sense when all that is comfortable and familiar has crumbled.  I think it’s human nature to want to assign a higher meaning to things that are tragic, and I certainly did.  When what I call the Terror came into my life, I learned pretty quickly what Christians do.  My friends, my Sunday School mates, they supported us.  One bought us groceries, one encouraged me to read my Bible when I was afraid, another class donated money so that our bills would be paid.  It was lovely to feel so encouraged in a hard time, and it lasted about two weeks.

The Terror would last much longer than that, and as our time of hardship wore on, the Christianity wore thin.  Our friends lost patience with us.  They withdrew their assistance.  Life goes on, right?  Some of them encouraged my husband to take the kids and leave me.  Some said to have me committed.  One person told me, quite matter-of-factly, that the things that were happening to me would not be happening, were my faith only strong enough.  Pray more.  Really mean it.  If it doesn’t help, you don’t really mean it.  Suddenly, I felt all alone in this “family”.  It was as if I had spiritual leprosy, and the entire community took a collective step back from me so as not to catch it.

Looking back, it was a gift.  These people who removed themselves from our circle, and pushed us out of what was known and comfortable, forced us to explore other possibilities than the ones we had blindly clung to for so many years.  I started reading things that had previously been “forbidden” to me, started considering possibilities that I had always dismissed as impossible and ignorant.  I used to pity people like me, people who didn’t worship Jesus and meet up at church to talk about all the ways we were going to save the world.

Out of necessity and desperate for relief, I began researching alternative therapies.  There’s actually a pretty thin line between medicine and religion, and as I learned about healing the body I also found out a lot about alternative spiritual practices.  Meditating, EFT, chakra balancing, crystals, astrology, numerology, reiki, essential oils, burning sage, prayer bowls and beads and moon ritual and tarot cards and more have made their way into my consciousness and I am a better woman for it. I walk barefoot and talk to the moon if I feel like it.  When I talk about animals and spirit guides, no one makes fun of me.

The irony is, by taking the first step into a spiritual truth that feels so much more aligned with who I am, for the very first time I am actually changing the world.  If everyone had the courage to be their authentic, unapologetic selves, the world would be a different place entirely.  Now, I feel free.  I am growing in new and exciting ways, without limits and without guilt.  New and trustworthy friends have filled the voids left by the people who couldn’t deal with our pain.  Best of all, by dipping my toes into a spiritual ocean I had never been allowed to visit previously, I feel united with every other person in the world.

Losing my religion became the catalyst for finding myself.  I’m a better wife and a better mom because I no longer operate from a place of “not enough”. Instead of trying to force myself to fit into someone else’s box, I’ve broken free of all the boxes and I make my own way.  I am more than enough.  I am everything I was created to be.(Yes, I still believe in Creator/Source.)

The path I am on is one of total joy and truth. I have met so many fascinating and kind people. I continue to learn about other beliefs, world religions, and I feel connected to my fellow man.  There is no judgement or pity in me for them.  Instead, there is love.  REAL love.  Unconditional love.  I am stronger, genuine, and aware.  Where once my life was a nightmare, it’s now a dream.  I am finally awake.

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