TouchHealthySoil

 

Fertile soil rich with everything it takes for life to spring forth.  The soil must be tilled, fed, prepared, planted, watered, and acknowledged for the mystery it holds.

Life is a creative impulse moving all the way through its arc of expression. You are life. You are a creative impulse in an arc of expression. You, too contain rich, fertile soil that holds the mystery of your existence and expression.

Sometimes, in order for your creativity to pour forth, the most powerful thing you can do is lay your creation at the foot of this sacred garden within you and allow it to grow of its own accord.

Math, Beauty, and the Unexpected

My path to a degree was a long, sixteen year process. I started at a small satellite center of Consumnes River College in Placerville, California, a small circle of portable buildings right behind Raley’s grocery store, affectionately nicknamed ‘UBR’ or University Behind Raley’s. For many of those sixteen years, I took only one class a semester as I was working full-time and raising my two girls. I took my first college Path class (after years away from school) in one of those portables.

For the next ten years, I took one class a semester. And then … my husband died. It was after his death, that I began in earnest to pursue that diploma. A few years later, just before I transferred to Stanford, I took my second semester of Calculus.

I had always felt math was beautiful, but in this class of Calculus I discovered that math had an unexpected beauty. My professor was a much-older man. He had a shy and kind demeanor and was soft spoken. I really enjoyed his teaching because he taught math with gentleness, and with a clear love of the subject. And, he taught math with poetry. At the end of each class, he would pull a chair into the center of the room, grab a book of poetry, and sit down, with great intentionality, to read one poem. These moments became very precious to me over the weeks we met together.

During one class toward the end of the semester, we were studying ‘series’. I won’t explain what they are, other than to say that if you follow them all the way through, you arrive at sine and cosine. I had learned of these two formulas many years before, but to witness how they were actually derived, organically and beautifully, brought tears to my eyes. The beauty was so clear, perhaps brought even more forward by the beauty of this man’s love of math and gentle heart. I sat in my chair and the tears welled up, thick and deep in my eyes, and then they began to fall. He saw them fall. He stood and looked at me for what seemed to be a long, long time, (although in reality what was probably only a few seconds), and then tears fell from his eyes, too.

We were sharing a love of math, but also a love of something so much greater – a love of that which is the source of math, beauty, poetry, life.

I remember feeling the joy of seeing something unfold, of watching the magic that is at the heart of creation. I had no idea that series would lead to sine and cosine. No idea. None. And, voila, there they were. Unveiled.

What I really want to share here…

… and I am using math and poetry and beauty as a way to do it, is the deep, deep creativity of the universe. It’s the same creativity that is at the heart of YOUR nature.

Sometimes, the unveiling is really deep. This depth requires time for creation to reveal itself. Sometimes, the depth requires darkness. This is the process of incubation. Sometimes, as the creative process unfolds, things are in the dark for quite a while before they appear.

Just this past week, 

Maryam Mirzakhani of Stanford University was honored with the top award in Mathematics, the Field’s Medal, which is often described as the Nobel Prize of mathematics. This Venture Beat article mentions Mirzakhani’s process of incubation in reference to math and the ‘depth’ of her process.

“Mirzakhani likes to describe herself as slow. Unlike some mathematicians who solve problems with quicksilver brilliance, she gravitates toward deep problems that she can chew on for years. “Months or years later, you see very different aspects” of a problem, she said. There are problems she has been thinking about for more than a decade. “And still there’s not much I can do about them,” she said.”

Incubation happens in the dark, beneath the soil, in a sacred place.

After entering into a question, or holding a problem somewhere in our mind, more often than not, we must give that question or problem some time in the dark to allow it to germinate, to sprout, and to grow. Newborns who are too small to live on their own are placed in an incubator until their vital body parts are functioning well enough on their own to exist outside of the incubator. And, the same is true for seedlings too young and tender for the harsh sun. They must be strong enough before they break through the soil into the light of day.

 

The etymology for incubation is this:

Latin incubare, the source of incubate, literally meant ‘lie down on’; and incubation once had the sense of sleeping in a sacred place or temple for oracular purposes.

Incubation is a vital part of the creative process; so much so, that when I begin a project, while my tendency can be to wait until I’m under a deadline, if I simply begin the project, I also begin the incubation process. This beginning doesn’t have to be developed, meaning I don’t have to do a whole bunch to get it started. I just have to begin. Beginning begins the whole process if I have a clear question or problem to solve, or vision to bring about. It’s the clarity and the holding that begins the incubation process. The question is clear. The vision is clear. The intention is set. The seed can do what it needs to do in the dark, because I have done what I need to do in the light.

Great significance for YOUR creativity

Consider your creation (vision or dream). It must be clear enough to begin. It can be as simple as a question. It can be a more complex vision. But it has to have specificity. Consider a seed. You have a seed that will grow into something. It’s not a vague seed – it is specific. It will be a specific type of plant based on the seed. The seed holds the creation. Your creation has a seed, too.

Consider planting a seed. You have to till the soil. Perhaps add nutrients. Make a hole. Place the seed in the soil. Cover it so it is in the dark. The darkness is what it needs to do what it needs to do.

It is the same with your creations. They must have time in the dark. They must have time to lie down in the sacred temple below the soil so that the divine mystery can do what it does – unfold spirit into the flesh of matter.

The creative process is a Whole process.

Reason and intuition, mathematics and poetry, sunshine and dark soil underground: creativity is the continual marriage of yin and yang. Both are necessary for health and wholeness of any beautiful aspect of life.

Just as we need to honor women in the realms of math and science, we must also honor the yin, or feminine, in these realms, too. For the most part, we are taught that simply working hard on a project will bring forth innovation and creativity. But this is only half the picture. When we acknowledge the power of incubation, that which happens underneath the surface of things, in addition to working hard on a problem, and we then consciously cultivate this sacred power, we bring our awareness to wholeness and the cyclical nature of creativity.

If we truly want to be creative as a people, a species, we have the opportunity to come back into right relationship with something we have tried to control for hundreds of years – the mysterious nature of life. What would a right relationship look like with this sacred place beneath the soil, this place of incubation? What happens there beneath the soil, while set in motion by our hard work and attention, is wondrous. We attempt to explain and prove what it is, but can we also meet it with wonder? The wondrous is right in front of us, all around us, within us. While we acknowledge our hard work and smarts, can we also acknowledge the sacred, too?

To truly be in relationship with the sacred means we bring back wonder and humility to the equation. It means we lay our need to control down, and instead, listen and receive.

An understanding of a creativity that acknowledges and incorporates the sacredness of life might actually bring forth the sacred intelligence of life that could save us from ourselves.

 

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For Life’s Benefit

by Julie on August 12, 2014 · 1 comment

tuliplayers

 

We live with many powerful beliefs in our culture.

 

Life is conquerable, controllable.

We are entitled to a ‘good’ life.

What gets in the way of the ‘good’ life is a burden.

If we don’t have a ‘good’ life then there is something wrong with how we are living it.

Do whatever it takes to get over, get rid of, move past, the bad stuff…so we can get back to living the ‘good’ life.

 

But this IS the life. All of it is life.

The truth is, we aren’t entitled to anything. We don’t deserve anything. We are given life with each breath. And we live until we don’t breathe anymore.

 

Last week, my grandson received a new heart valve. He’d had two open heart surgeries in his first two years of life (his first on his first day of life). After his second open-heart surgery when he was just two, the doctors told us that researchers were working on a valve that could be delivered to the heart by catheter through the artery in the groin. It seemed like science fiction that he might not have to endure another open heart surgery when this valve wore out.

Eleven years later, this past week, that’s exactly what we experienced. He received his new valve without having to open his chest again.

His life is not easy on many levels. Multiple complications from that very first day of life have presented him with a life that has its challenges. But this life is his life. It only seems it should be different when we compare it to some damn ‘ideal’ of what life should be, a fictional ideal that is paraded around our culture on a daily basis, but an ideal that just doesn’t exist.

Yes, on the surface, some have it ‘easier’. Yes, on the surface, some have it ‘harder’. But none of those comparisons actually help in the living of one’s life. And, at the most basic level, the comparisons are not logical, because life doesn’t compare. Life just creates and lives its creations.

What does help is how we hold life. Do we see it as a burden to try to get through? Do we see others problems, or our problems as something to fix so our lives will become the glistening, gleaming perfection we’ve been told they should be?

Or, do we live them in open honesty, at least with ourselves. Do we tell ourselves the truth? Do we allow ourselves to see the messiness of human love that we are, love in a human, frail body, attempting to live as if we are perfect, while all the while denying the divine imperfection that is our humanity.

Life isn’t supposed to feel ‘good’ all the time. How do I know that? Because it doesn’t.

What I discovered this week was that I was holding things in my life as if they were a burden. I was tired of grief, tired of pain, tired of feeling as though another shoe was going to drop. A part of me wanted that easy, gleaming life. But I came to see that it was this very perspective that was causing it to feel like a burden. I was making it happen in my own mind. I was pushing life away, rather than drawing it near to me.

As the day of my grandson’s procedure (yes, they call it a procedure instead of a surgery because he didn’t have to be opened up!) grew near, I realized how damn lucky I am to be his grandmother. And after the procedure, as I sat next to him in recovery, as he slept and his heart beat with gusto, I laid my head and hand on his heart and felt the life move through his body. I felt the pleasure of being with him, the tenderness of the moment borne from joy and elation that he had a new, vibrant lease on life, that he was alive.

I touched his shoulder and kissed his forehead. And, I simply sat with him and felt grateful.

Life isn’t supposed to feel ‘good’ all the time, but it can feel real.

Life isn’t binary, a series of on and offs, zeros and ones, goods and bads, blacks and whites. It just isn’t. No matter how hard we try to make it that way, it isn’t.

Life isn’t a machine. It’s isn’t the enemy. It isn’t something to fix.
I am not a machine. I am not the enemy. I am not something to fix.

There is no good life waiting for us at the end of the rainbow.

Everything moves. Everything changes. We control none of it. All we can do is dance, open to what is here, do our best to be present to it, receive it, sit with it. We can touch it, love it, feel it pulsing, grateful to know it as it is. We can hold our life in our hands and know it wasn’t made for our benefit, it was made for life’s benefit.

This has been the greatest reminder for me…

I was not put here on earth for my benefit, I was put on earth for life’s benefit. Am I living this?

 

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Be Full of Your Self

by Julie on July 29, 2014 · 3 comments

youarethemiracle

 

One of the things I say often in the course of teaching, and often here on the blog, is that we are what we are. We cannot be anything else. We can pretend to be someone else, and we do that all the time through our words, choices, and actions. But, in reality, we can’t be anything other than who and what we are.

I mentioned this in the 5-week summer course I just finished teaching, Unleashing Creativity and Leadership for Women, through Stanford Continuing Studies, and it had a powerful effect on the women. Sometimes, okay often, we don’t realize just how much effort we put into attempting to be something we are not and could never be. That doesn’t mean we cannot become more healthy human beings, but it does mean that at the core of who we are is a soul with certain innate qualities and expressions.

We learn, early on, not to believe in the goodness of these innate soul qualities. We learn, early on, that we must conform ourselves to ideas of a ‘better self’, ideas that come from outside of us…which leads us to engage in a practice of continuing to look outside of ourselves for how we should be, who we should be, and what we should say and express in the world.

I remember some of the messages I received as a child. “Don’t be so full of yourself.” “Don’t look in the mirror – it’s vain.” “Don’t be so outspoken.” “Don’t talk about yourself so much.”

Don’t, don’t, don’t be YOU, see YOU, speak YOU.

I understand that parents want their children to be good people, and to be socially adept rather than blatant narcissists.

I grew up in the 50′s and 60′s, and if you remember these years at all you know what I’m talking about. I had two sisters and I know what we were taught. It wasn’t just in the family. It was especially strong in the schools, especially for girls. I don’t know how it was for boys during that time.

No wonder why it’s taken me so long to speak what I know, to love what I see in the mirror, and to honor the soul that lives and breathes through this female body as a soul of goodness.

Consider believing you can’t be full of yourself. If that’s the case, whom should you fill yourself with?

If you were told something remotely similar, whom and/or what did you learn to fill yourself with? If you think about the false self you portray, whom is it made up of?

If you are taught to second-guess the words that want to come out of your mouth or onto the paper, or the images that want to be painted or drawn, or the movements that your body wants to do on the dance floor, what comes out instead? And what is being kept hidden?

::

Take a moment to consider the messages you were told about who you should be, how you should act, and what you get to say, do, express. For that matter, take a few moments. Write them down. Let them roll around in your consciousness.

Then, peel them off of you. Unwrap them from around you. Some might be really sticky, almost velcro-like. If that’s the case, remove the other half of the velcro from your beautiful self and soul so that the whole enchilada floats away. As you peel them off, see them disappear into nothingness.

I do this as a deep, extensive exercise in my course, Becoming a Force of Nature, and what happens is always quite amazing. The results always confirm what I know – that we know who we are, that we know we are pretending, and that somewhere we long to remove everything that covers us up.

Be full of your Self!

Fill yourself with your innate soul qualities that are your essence. Let the goodness of who and what you are radiate out your eyes, spill onto the canvas, page, or job you do. Speak from your soul. Breathe into the world the essence of who you are.

You might find that you have a bunch of beliefs about allowing this to happen. That would make sense. We only uphold this illusional self if we believe, for varying reasons, that it’s not okay to do this. But, persist. Find the desire within you to be you, to speak what you know, to express what is in your soul.

It is true. When you love the whole human experience, you are the miracle. YOU are the miracle. Something miraculous happens when you love who and what you are, and you love the whole of your life and the whole of the world.

This is what it means to be full of your Self, to radiate the love that you are, deep, deep down in the center of you. It is to make peace with who you are and how things are. Then, only then, can love move through you as the unique expression of You.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 6.34.41 AM

 

His hands are well muscled, his fingers nimble and exquisitely sensitive to the clay in motion.

As I watch, I can feel my own fingers following the nuances of his touch, as if they, too, can sense the impulse that feeds that touch. The music settles into me, its rhythm opening me deeper into the experience of watching this man do what he does with such precision, and seemingly such love.

I wonder how many turns of the wheel his hands have guided. I see how they ripple with the clay. I feel his muscle memory in mine, and I remember moments when my hands touched with such love.

It wasn’t clay, it was flesh – a close kissing cousin to clay.

My hands touched and guided flesh in this same way. Flesh that loved to be touched, and flesh that I loved touching.

Maybe that’s why he is so digitally articulate. Maybe his fingers dance along the ridge between clay and air, because he’s touched flesh, too, just as my fingers have danced along the edge between invitation and invasion.

He knows this clay, intimately. You can see this. I wonder how well he knows flesh. I wonder if a potter’s hands become so intuitive in their touch that they know flesh and bone and blood as elements to be turned and guided and nudged, just as lovingly, just as exquisitely.

Touch is prayer in motion, and as I watch the graceful mark his muse makes upon this world, causing the rim and curve and edge to emerge, I know grace moves through hands in extraordinary ways. Images of past clients flash in front of my inner eyes, those who knew beyond any doubt that life wanted to create through their hands. They knew this as well as they knew their own names. Their hands spoke to them, much as I sense his hands speak to the clay, telling them it was time for them to make their mark in this world.

My hands are speaking in much the same way. They want more than to just tap. They want to touch the flesh of life. They want to make things – real, physical, beautiful things.

Hands want to make. They want to mold and shape and knead. They want to know how it feels as the muse anoints them as vessels, carries them over to bliss, making love to them in service to creation.

I’ve sometimes been struck by the sight of my own hands, held out in front before my own eyes, suddenly and seemingly to be hands that could belong to anyone but me. Those moments when I was nobody, and no body, in particular, but simply life peering out of my eyes, I watched my own hands touch, fingers dancing along the ridges of whatever it was they were conversing with. In those moments, I’ve witnessed the inherent wisdom in the cells of hands and palms and fingertips. I’ve seen and felt and known how hands offer the direct expression of Soul into this material world. And, heart lines move out to and through hands and fingertips, offering love in a way the heart cannot.

Each piece meticulously loved. Each expression uniquely molded. Each creation mindfully shaped by something we can’t see nor hear nor touch, but something we feel echo through our cells.

After watching hands create, is there any doubt at all in the way love persistently and powerfully demands to be expressed?

::

The muse moved through these hands to tap, tap, tap, after watching the extraordinary video (below) of exquisite artistry. I couldn’t stop the flow of words and images that came in response to being moved so deeply by the beauty in this video.

In writing this piece, I am playing with a new kind of writing experience and process, one I will share with you soon as a creative writing course offering. I will be sharing it in my newsletter…

Please enjoy this incredibly beautiful video… And, please share with me in the comments how it moves you.

 

image above is by the videographers…

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Do we dare live our sacred humanity?

by Julie on July 13, 2014 · 3 comments

OliveTreeUnderStarlight

 

We are the sum of our ancestors
Our roots stretch back to blue-green algae
They stretch to the stars
They ultimately reach the void
This history is inscribed in our psyches
Silence and solitude enjoin us to remember
Our whole and great body.
~ Joan Halifax

Listen to the audio…

 

Our whole and great body. The sum of everything that has existed is within us, each of us and every one of us.

We cannot escape this earth. She is our home, our mother, our world. No matter how hard we try to escape, with thoughts of heaven, realms of light, any place other than here, this place is we are born, it is where we live out our lives, and it is where we will die. Our bodies are made up of her. The food we eat comes from her. Our lives are spent here on her. No matter how smart we think we are, how much we believe we can control her forces, or how much we attempt to destroy her, she remains our generous mother.

Roots that stretch deep down into the humus, the incredibly rich, humus, deep earth of the ages… all the way through the center of the earth to the stars, to the void of creation.

Perhaps the way to the stars is not by escaping earth in rocket ships of metal technology…perhaps the way to the stars is through this deep rich humus, the matter that is this human earthly existence. How different is our earth from the stars? Our flesh is made of stardust. Our bones are ancient sacred sites. Our blood is liquid light.

Perhaps it is only by becoming fully human that we find the place of wholeness, the place of everything, where starlight infuses flesh, and love for everything embraces our fears. If we become quiet enough, and maybe even alone enough, we finally settle into our bones, into the depth of gravity that allows us to understand that we are part of something so much greater than our fear of ourselves…and each other.

 

Do we dare open our arms and hearts wider when there is so much violence and greed?

Do we dare live joy when there is so much suffering?

Do we dare feel the depth of love that is available for all of life when so many of us generate hate?

Do we dare remember our flesh is made of stardust and our blood is liquid light?

Do we dare settle all the way down into our flesh and bones, giving ourselves over to this one precious life?

Do we dare be here, all the way here, no longer trying to escape to somewhere else?

Do we dare plant ourselves, here, in this deep-of-the-ages dirt, paws, claws, and all?

Do we dare be fully human, infused with liquid light?

 

Do we dare be fully human, living our sacred humanity?

I say Yes.

It is our sacred humanity that will heal us back into wholeness, heal us back into earth’s family, heal us back into this web of life that stretches back to the ancestors, back to the stars, back to that from which everything is born.

It is by living our sacred humanity, here, right here, rooted in the earth, that we will remember what we truly are.

 

Image is ‘Starlight Under Olive Tree’, by MgPixel  under creative commons 2.0

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redplumsbynicksaltmarsh

Red Plums

Now it is the crickets
that say Ripe Ripe
slurred in the darkness, while the plums

dripping on the lawn outside
our window, burst
with a sound like thick syrup
muffled and slow

Margaret Atwood, from “Late August”

::

 

I feel the impulse. It rises up inside me from deep in the dark. It rises up on its own, like breath.

This impulse is alive, like breath, like me.

This impulse is whole. Everything is contained within. Everything I need in order to express this impulse comes along with it.

This impulse is ripe. And, because it is ripe, the entirety of it is ready to be eaten, tasted, digested, and made new again through expression.

This impulse is wise. It knows what I don’t know. And when I admit I don’t know, it comes. In its own time.

This impulse is responsive. When I listen to, and feel, the deepest longing inside me, and actively create, and engage within, a space for epiphany and insight, it comes. It always comes. In its own time.

My willingness to trust and admit that I do not have the answer to a question I truly want to know serves like a clarion call to grace…to be graced.

Grace comes on its own, in its own time. That is what it means to ‘be graced’.

::

 

Something subtle happens when you finally realize there is no better version of yourself to become, when you realize that voice in your head isn’t telling you the truth. After so many years of trying to be more, you stop trying, pushing, and striving so hard. It is then that a presence begins to more clearly make itself known. This presence doesn’t fluctuate between ‘enough’ and ‘not enough’ like our personalities do. In the realization that there is nothing else you can be other than who you are, this fluctuation begins to soften and subside. And as it subsides, this presence becomes clearer and  more palpable.

This presence simply is. And, there is a pulse to its expression that moves through each of us, an impulse to move and express in a certain way.

I call this the creative impulse and we all have it within us.

We could also call it the love impulse. It is love and it wants to have its way with us.

Last week, in my current group of Becoming a Force of Nature, we explored module five and its corresponding practice, “Follow the Ripe Impulse.” Every time I teach this work, I practice again, alongside.

This practice of following the impulse is at the heart of leading from your personal creative resource, what some might call Essence, or Soul, or Spirit. I also call it Love.

The creative impulse always comes from within you. It is never outside of you. Ever. It can be like a nudge. Or an arrow shooting straight up through your core. Or a soft tap on your inner flesh, a sudden silent utterance from your heart, a sensuous swelling in your womb.

The beautiful thing about it is that once you begin to follow it, you soften for you realize there’s nothing to figure out, only an impulse to follow. The impulse will guide and everything you need to know is inside. When you trust this, you become the vessel, and you begin to follow.

The process to getting to the place where you feel and know this presence and impulse isn’t linear at all. It’s a deep dive into the unknown. You come upon rocky terrain, dark shadows, creatures who seemingly have bad intentions, but who ultimately are there as some of the wisest Sherpas you could be blessed to come to know.

And even when you know this presence and feel the impulse, it doesn’t mean the mind doesn’t flare up over and over again, trying to figure out. This happened to me this week. My mind went wacky. I could feel it flare up and, when it did, I lost sight of this impulse. Instead, I got caught in the crazy looping of trying to figure things out, of circular emotions, and almost a panicky feeling. Thank goodness it wasn’t too long before I caught myself, realizing that I felt so crappy because I was caught up in it. Sometimes when this happens, all I can do is laugh, because it is so funny how the mind makes up these entire worlds filled with only dire possibilities.

In the course, this week we are following the live-with, ‘Follow the Ripe Impulse’. A live-with is a guide to help you put what you’ve learned into the real world – it is contextual learning.

I wanted to share it here because I think it is such a helpful thing to realize that who you really are is leading you from within. When you begin to feel this and follow it, you become less and less concerned about what others think and more aligned with this impulse. It is very freeing. And it isn’t easy. I don’t know anyone who has had any easy time with this. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

 

Here’s a snippet from the course live-with, in case you want to play alongside of us!

Feel for the Ripe Impulse: desire, question, longing

Always, the live-with is relatively simple. If you do nothing else, simply feel for the ripe impulse.
You’ve let go of expectations and relaxed the judgment.
You’ve become awake and aware, and can hear and feel and sense the wisdom of your body.
Right here is the present moment. Here is the sea of infinite possibility.
Here is where the ‘New’ is breaking on the horizon, bubbling up from the sea of possibility, making itself known.
Before the ‘New’ breaks open, we have no idea what is coming.
But, we CAN feel for the ripe impulse that tells us where to place our attention, what to feel for, how to respond, and what to respond to.

 

And if you’re interested in finding out about the course, (Becoming a Force of Nature), or wish to sign-up to be notified when the course opens for registration again, you can do so here.

 

‘Red Plums’ by Nick Saltmarsh on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

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The Red is Strong. Like Blood. Alive.

by Julie on June 24, 2014 · 2 comments

ForestbyMoyanBrenn
 

Listen to the audio version:

 

I walk into the forest of me. Before I am very far in, I begin to lose my bearings, those bearings that have held the powerful sense of self I’ve had in place for most of my life.

The forest floor is soft and thick with a build-up of old-life-dying. My feet are bare as is the rest of me. Here in the forest of me, everything is shed. There are no illusions about who I make myself to be. They all fall away as I proceed further in. Except the red nail polish on my toes seems to still be here. Maybe it’s the power of the chemicals that keeps it in place, or maybe it’s the power of the red to remind me of something more alive than the old-life-dying beneath my feet.

The red stands out starkly against the decaying matter. 

Old skin, old beliefs, old stories. Old and dead. Shedding, sloughing, falling down to become part of the old-life-dying.

But my feet feel vibrant and alive. The toes spread out so that each one can feel the earth, can sense and grip and connect. As if they remember being part of paws feeling the vibrations ricocheting through the decaying matter, the soil, and the bedrock. Losing bearings and old skin can also be a finding again. Maybe of something new. Maybe something old. Maybe something outside of time and space. A place where I can taste the earth in my own body so clearly that I know I am from this earth, of this earth, will go back to this earth, and never can ever leave this earth. She and I are tied together, and not just through toes.

I find a place to lie down amidst this old-life-dying. It feels awfully comfortable. Soft and thick, and my bare bones sink into it as if to say, “We, too, will go one day. Go back into you, dear earth, marrow meeting molten core.”

Even now, alive with marrow, these bones taste the earth and know home.

My bare soft flesh fills the space between the bones and the old-life-dying. Flesh feels so freshly alive, and somehow also dead when I don’t want to feel it. When I believe I am only the flesh, I fear the old-life-dying. The flesh of my life, the things I call mine, fill the space around me so I can’t feel the bones meet the earth.

 

The bones are the bedrock. They know things. They hold me up, give me alignment and integrity, and teach me about laws such as gravity, laws that are always true, unlike some of the laws that exist out there, outside the forest of me. The flesh is sweet, yet too much and I can’t feel, too little and I don’t know home.

I found the opening into the forest of me when I really turned to look. Half-looking never works. Half-seeing doesn’t either.

It grows dark, here, yet the red is strong. Like blood. Alive. I follow the red. A light begins to shine. Like the sun at the center of everything.

When I know I am the flesh AND the light that illuminates this flesh, then I am home. 

 

*** Forest: image by Moyan Brenn under Creative Commons 2.0

 

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This Big Old Wild and Lovely Tree

A few weeks ago, as I was walking down the main street of my neighborhood business district, I came upon a scene with men in suits, men in hard hats, and men with chain saws. They were watching and talking, gesticulating and sawing. This big old wild and lovely tree had grown too big for her ‘place’, her roots uprooting the concrete sidewalk that had been placed all around her when she was young and still manageable, not her full-grown, wild-self nature.

As I stopped to watch, I heard one of the men in suits talking about the tree say, “It just became too much for the street here, too much to contain. We had to cut it down. We’ll dig up the roots, cut them out, and pave over the hole. It will be much cleaner.”

She couldn’t and wouldn’t be contained in that too-small spot she was given, decorating the fancy-shopped street along with a few other chosen trees, spaced neatly and orderly along the way. She was trying to shake the concrete off, trying to grow into her full potential, following the seed’s instructions that were at the heart of her becoming.

Now, enough days have passed by that all signs of the tree are gone, except for the sidewalk squares that are obviously new concrete, sitting right up against the old. There won’t be any more ‘growing things’ in that spot. We must maintain a controlled-enoughness at all times.

 

Pave Paradise

Now, I’m sitting, waiting for my Darshan with Amma.  Amma is the Indian saint who’s travelled the earth hugging others with unconditional love. I’ve been graced with her hugs many, many times, and each time is different.

The temple is filled with Shakti. My body is filled with fire.

As I wait, I hear a voice inside, an insistent voice, a fiery voice that is clear about what she wants. Shake it off. Shake everything off that is not true. Strip me bare of everything that hides my nature, that hides who I really am, like concrete laid out in large archaic patches across Mother Earth, keeping her bound, her bosoms unable to rise and fall with those magnificent in-breaths and out-breaths she takes as she prepares meals for her children.

As I see this almost-furious voice laying claim to what is true, I see that I am this strong core with deep roots, a core that is unshakable and roots that hold me steadfast to the earth.

I’ve been paved over. I was wrapped with concrete, laced with rebar that holds the paving in place, maintains a strict form, and certainly doesn’t allow any big bosom breaths to shake up the status quo.

You know that old Joni Mitchell song that croons, “We paved paradise and put in a parking lot”? Yeah, that one. Sometimes, that’s what this body of mine feels like – like paradise, a flesh and blood paradise, a conscious, aware, breathing, desiring paradise that’s been paved, made into a parking lot full of concrete, straight lines, and all sorts of rules as to who owns it.

 

Feral Flesh

Enough rules about ingress, egress, and regress will cause
any wild woman to forget that she was ever feral flesh.

And not the kind of feral flesh that old ‘parking lot attendant’, the one who believes he knows the ‘lay of the land’ and the rules about who gets to use this used-to-be-paradise, would want you to believe. No, not at all.

THIS. This body, this feral flesh – feral as in completely and utterly in tune with the seed of her becoming – flesh as completely and utterly part of this existence we call life, matter infused with the love and vitality, inspiration and creativity, vibrancy and expectancy that anything completely alive knows – this feral flesh, this desiring paradise, still remembers, still feels, still knows it is good and whole and necessary.

The Soul can only know what it is to be fully alive in this life by way of this body. A paved over body cuts the tree down, uproots the roots – at least in our psyche. Our doing this causes great pain to the Soul. But when we turn back to Soul, when we show we are ready to let the Soul lead, the Soul returns, shaking concrete off of roots, untwisting rebar, unveiling her nature, the trunk and roots begin to emerge.

As Amma takes me into her arms and I feel her presence, I can tell she’s heard my Soul’s request. She hugs me with a force I’ve not felt before, her jackhammer of love hitting against those thick slabs of forgetfulness and severed connection. She’s tearing away the untruths just as this fiery voice requests.

These two wildly alive and fiery loving Divine Beings seem to have a direct line to each other. It is my job to get out of the way and let Nature do its work.

You don’t have to be in Amma’s presence for Nature to help shake off the concrete. Nature is ready and willing.

::

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Experience Becoming a Force of Nature!
I’m offering my course, Becoming a Force of Nature, over the summer, running from June 2nd through September 3rd, 2014. Our first call is on June 4th, with the first module being released on the 2nd, to give you time to go over the material.

This time, I’m offering the first module and call (June 4th) to EVERYONE, free of charge!

Sign-up here to receive the module so you can experience the course. I know you will learn a great deal just from Module One.

 

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Lotus,  (c) Liza Fox

Lotus, (c) Liza Fox

 

Pleasure

In my newsletter that I sent the other day, I wrote about pleasure. You can read about it here.

Pleasure is an interesting word in that there seems to be so much cultural judgment against the word, and against women experiencing pleasure. But pleasure is simply ‘a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment’.

As I wrote about pleasure (in a different vein), I also realized how so often when I am creating I am in a state of pleasure – especially when I am dancing – and how often I am in a state of the opposite of pleasure – contraction, pressing hard, tightness – especially when writing the book I’ve been working on.

When I dance, it isn’t for anyone else. There is no finished product. There is simply the experience of dancing for no particular outcome at all – yet the outcome that comes by and of itself is always one of pleasure – a very simple joy.

Joy is one of the qualities of creativity!

 

Reframing Perfection

I know enough about creativity to know that there is always some sort of creative tension at the very heart of the process. The tension comes from the process itself, because we don’t know and we realize we don’t know and this is uncomfortable. In the process, we have to let go of how things are, and we have to let go of the way we think things are supposed to turn out, so the seed of expression can germinate and grow into what the seed is intended to be.

When I am creating ‘something’, I more often experience this contraction. Suddenly, I want to have a say in how it turns out.

But, everything comes from a seed, even if it is only (what seems like) a simple seed – a simple idea. At the heart of the seed IS the creation. Our job as creators is to give way to this seed, to allow it to germinate and grow without too much interference.

The way I usually interfere is through my incessant need for a quasi-perfection, an ‘almost-perfection’ that never gets where I want it to get.

Consider all the ways you try to make yourself be something you are not; consider how much effort this takes; and, consider that no matter how much of this effort you keep applying, you never get to the state of perceived perfection you’ve created in your mind. It always stays a quasi-perfection of what you think you are trying to achieve. But, if in reality, perfection is simply something being as it is, all of this work toward perfection only takes you (me, us) away from perfection because there is no allowing, there is no surrender, there is no letting go so what is there can be known.

Perfection is simply the seed growing into what it is meant to be.

Perfection in creativity is the process of midwifing this seed into being.

 

This reminds me of the Lotus flower, pictured above. The Lotus flower grows out of what seems to be such ordinary looking leaves and roots and water, yet the Lotus itself is luminescent and other-worldly. This is the real you. You are the Lotus flower, and so are your creations.

Knowing this, how does that change your own creative process? How does this change how you see yourself in relationship to the creations that are trying to come through you?  How does this change how you see you?

 

Perfection and pleasure, together!

How much more pleasure-filled might your creative experiences be if you were to create from this different mindset of perfection?

Perfection already is. When we know this, the creative process, whatever it is we are creating, is a process of allowing and unveiling. It is a process of co-creation with you and the life that is expressing through you. In this process, both you and the creation are changed. (And, yes, it is you and you.) All you. All life.

In my course, Becoming a Force on Nature, one of the last modules in the twelve is ‘Be Ordinary‘. It is exactly this sense of perfection, that when you are simply you, ordinary, the extraordinary can finally shine through.

Again, the Lotus is an expression of what happens when we are ordinary. When you are ordinary, there is no striving, pressing, or stressing to be something you are not, and it is ONLY in this state of ordinariness that your truly extraordinary perfection (that you cannot make happen!) can shine through.

It doesn’t come through because of anything you have done, it comes through by simply allowing yourself to grow out of the muck and mud of everything in your life that is seemingly contradictory to either your perfection or your pleasure. Yet is is not…

It is the muck and mud of life that is the seed bed
for your beauty and creative capacity.

 

Oh, and in the course we also cover Sexuality and Voice, and how closely creativity, sexuality and voice are related. We dive directly into Pleasure.

 

Experience the Course for Free!

If you are interested in finding out, I’m offering my course, Becoming a Force of Nature, over these summer months, running from June 2nd through September 3rd, 2014.

You can find out more about the course, here, including the recording of the information call I held. 

Our first call is on June 4th, with the first module being released on the 2nd, to give you time to go over the material.

The first module and call (June 4th) are open to EVERYONE!

I’d love for you to sign-up here to receive the module so you can take a look at the material.

It is powerful material and it will give you many insights into how:

  1. creativity is not just about art
  2. YOU ARE creative
  3. the more you trust in your nature as a creative being and as a woman, the more it (and you!) will flow.

and so much more.

 

We all want autonomy and sovereignty – and so do our creations.

 

 The Lotus photo is by Liza Fox (c), an accomplished photographer and my niece!

 

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womenincolor

This is part five of a five-part series on rediscovering, and speaking in, our mother tongue.

How many languages do we ‘speak’ as women?

What streams of wisdom do we have access to?

What is our true mother tongue?

::

“I like you; your eyes are full of language.” ~ Anne Sexton

Eyes Full of Language

We speak many languages. All of us. Women and men. And, for some time now, I’ve been curious about the languages I know that I do not speak, languages that women do not speak because we’ve been silenced for centuries, and ultimately still silencing ourselves.

I am curious about languages of touch, of breath, and of taste. Languages of knowing and instinct. Languages that bring place, feel, and depth into rhythm, cadence, and (perhaps) words.

Words aren’t the only vehicle of language. The eyes speak volumes. Look into your own eyes. Really look, and you’ll find you never reach the end of their infinite offering.

When I first meet someone, I listen to the language of their eyes and the texture of their voice. I feel their presence course through me. I meet them on many levels. We all do this. We may think focus mostly on the words being spoken, but our whole system is soaking up others through the many-layered nuances we ‘speak’.

Our Mother Tongue is instinctual. Our paws meet the ground, our eyes take in the scene, and our hearts take a pulse of what is here. The Mother Tongue knows how to respond, all cells alive, heart open, blood coursing, and knowing flowing.

Everyone, women and men, are most powerful when we simply are what we are, and we are soulful animals, critters with paws… and skin that needs to know it is not alone.

 

Sometimes, we teeter then choose.

When we speak what we have to speak, telling the truth in whatever language suits it best, we settle into ourselves in a way that is just so. No hiding. No covering up. No trying or attempting. Solely a vessel of life.

When we try to be something we are not, we cover ourselves up, and we lose our power. Veiled, we are much less creative, alive, and impactful.

When we water down our words, they lose their vitality. When we translate in order to soften the impact or change the meaning so others won’t be challenged, what truly wants to be expressed dies.

What happens when we know something so profoundly alive and true within ourselves, and at the same time we know it is not valued, honored, trusted, or wanted in the culture. What happens as we stand between worlds, knowing what we know and teetering on the fence of whether or not to speak it aloud into this culture that seems to have no appetite for our words, this culture that seems to find any way it can to denigrate what it is the Mother Tongue must say?

When we know we have something profoundly alive inside and important to express into the world, it is our responsibility to our own Soul to do that. That is the most important relationship that we can honor. It might be that ultimately no one understands what we say. It might be that people judge and shame. It’s no fun when that happens, yet the feeling of trusting yourself, your Soul, and your own voice, and standing tall in the expression of that trust is much more full and ultimately nourishing than the pain of any negative feedback we could receive.

The Mother Tongue is where we women ‘know what we know’. It is outside of cultural conditioning. This is a very important place. It is here we are able to see and know what is true for ourselves, and to hear our own voice, the voice of the Soul. Here we know. Here we see. Here we come to feel the power of our own being, and our own creativity, sexuality and vitality.

 

We know we know.

Put your ear down close to your Soul and listen hard. ~ Anne Sexton

Sometimes, we just know. Many may try to convince us otherwise. But we know what we know. We might not know how we know it or where we know it, but we know we know.

I only began to remember my mother tongue when I listened to my Soul telling me I had to turn away from the culture. As I began to trust in my own creativity, I began to trust the words that were coming through me. The trust didn’t come easily. Every time I would allow this Mother Tongue to come out on the page, I would shiver a bit with fear about what others might say or think. I was afraid I would be thought of as weird, just like the professors had indicated with their shaming responses. But something inside me kept pushing me to listen and to write. Something was pulsing within, guiding me to remember.

I was listening to something other than what I had been taught was worthy of speaking. The listening was to me…and in all my years in school, I can’t say that I was ever truly taught to value my own deepest expression – my creativity.

There is something important in our fear that we will not be heard, that we will be misunderstood, even shamed. We know our wisdom and truth, and we know the beauty of it. To know it will be not valued, and perhaps mocked, is painful.

 

“I have a piece that I wrote about how the movie Pollyanna affected my life. I’ve only shown it to one friend because I feel that it would be misunderstood. To be a Pollyanna has such a derogatory meaning, yet I have a different take on it. That piece comes from my mother tongue. Big aha here.” ~ Kim Manley-Ort (shared in a comment on post 2)

Kim speaks about something many of us experience. We know what we know, and what we know is different than what the culture says is valuable. This is the disconnect. Somewhere we know that it will be misunderstood, and perhaps worse.  That is painful, especially when deep within we love the Self that knows this ‘different take’. We love it, so when others misunderstand, it hurts.

It just may be they will misunderstand. There are many who would like to keep us from remembering who we are. Sometimes, this fear might mean we are not meant to share it. Some things must be kept close to the heart, especially if they are still working on us, still revealing themselves to us. This is when being quiet is serving us and the Soul.

And sometimes, we must speak. Last night, I was listening to Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ audio program, Mother Night (which by the way is a fabulous program). In it she speaks about how we heal from enculturation. Something she said really struck me – because I was thinking of this post. I’m going to paraphrase: Sometimes we feel like we are very strange, very different than others. We feel there is something so different that we don’t dare share whom we know ourselves to be with this world that can so quickly misunderstand and judge. Dr. Estés explains that when we see this it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share, but that what we have to share is what is missing from the culture. The very realization that we don’t see ourselves in the culture means that what we have to share is what will fill that hole.

When I heard this, it made so much sense. Of course. No wonder we look out there for something to match what we know and feel, but if we are the ones that are to bring it to the world, then we wouldn’t see it because we haven’t brought it in yet. Isn’t that fabulous?

 

Settling into Your Mother Tongue:

Listen to Soul

To settle into your mother tongue, begin by separating two things: listening and speaking. Separate the listening to what wants to be known from the act of speaking/expressing it, because sometimes what causes us to not hear is the fact we are already thinking about saying what we haven’t even yet heard – and we are afraid.

Just the act of listening to the voice inside is incredibly important. It takes courage to not turn away from what your Soul is saying. It takes a letting go of one’s own desire to control. It takes faith in the very nature of your being. To open, develop, and deepen this relationship is so important and so beautiful. The speaking and expressing might come later. It might not. But this relationship between you and your own Soul is so beautiful. To open your inner ears and eyes, and to open your heart, to your own Soul is life-changing.

To listen, we must get quiet. Very quiet. We must want to hear. We have to open the channel. Sometimes, I meditate with my journal, and actively ask to hear. The question is important. Whatever question is burning, whichever question is ripe, is the one to ask. We have to be willing to receive what we don’t yet know, and don’t even know we will want to hear.

Sit, open, ask, then be still, quiet, and listen. Be receptive. Soften. Breathe.

To listen, we must come down into the body where we hear, feel, and sense so much more than just our thoughts. It has been my experience, that the Soul doesn’t speak through the crazy monkey-mind. The body is the gateway to the Soul. If we avoid it, we may not hear the Mother Tongue. If we don’t trust in our whole being, we cannot hear what Soul is saying.

 

Speak Soul

She can sense a language
With her whole body
That only her soul can speak
And only her heart can feel.

 

Next, we speak. We can find a way to speak that which feels unspeakable. We can find a way to do this; first to ourselves; perhaps, next to our girlfriends, or sisters, or partner. Maybe we start by speaking aloud to ourselves. Just to hear your own voice speak in your mother tongue is healing. Eventually, as we begin to live this real, alive relationship with our own Soul, we find a way to speak.

Begin to…

1. Trust in yourself that you do have a mother tongue – a mother tongue that is your native tongue.

2. Know that no matter what, there is a place inside of you that holds what it is you long to speak.

3. Find a place, perhaps to yourself first in a journal, into a recorder, even in meditation, where you can ‘speak’ these words.

4. Begin to get a feel for what it feels like to speak in your own mother tongue. What is the experience of it? Does it speak in words, movement, grunts, silence, paint, images, symbols, touch, or sparkle in your eyes?

5. Listen to your body. Feel what it is saying. Listen to your longing.

6. Notice how much judgment you have toward your own mother tongue and the words inside of you. Is this the judgment you fear you will receive from others? Work with these parts of you that are judging you.

7. Find people to whom you can say what you long to say. Find people who will listen without judgment, people you trust, people who honor your expression.

8. Trust that those men and women whom you fear speaking your Mother Tongue to the most are actually hungering to hear it, to feel it, and to know it themselves. Trust that what you must speak is exactly what the world needs.

9. Check to see if it feels right, and if so, find a way to speak the words you know in a way that others can hear, without losing the heart and soul woven through them.

10. Know that sometimes we never get to the feeling that people will understand. And, we have to speak anyway. Sometimes, people won’t be open to hearing what you have to say. And you say it anyway.

 

Offer Yourself Dignity

Ultimately, is it you who must learn to listen to you, to listen with respect and dignity rather than denigration. We want others to listen to us and to understand us. The first step is to learn to honor your own Mother Tongue and what it wants to say. If we are afraid of it, others will be, too.

Can we honor it within ourselves, and honor it within other women, too?

Maybe we have to leave the boardroom and the cubicle, the florescent lights and the plastic ‘containers’, to rekindle our relationship with the big mother, Mother Earth. Maybe our Mother Tongue is spoken through her. Maybe she is always whispering in our ear, imploring us to sing our own song, asking us to speak from the belly.

Maybe then we can come back into the parched places of our culture, these boardrooms and cubicles, and perhaps even the bedroom, with the instincts and language we’ve rediscovered.

Maybe then our world will be filled with the language of the Mother, the instincts and senses, the fierce beauty of the heart – the Mother Tongue.

 

Posts in the series are:

Mother Tongue Part 1: Has Your Mother Tongue Been Lost in Translation?

Mother Tongue, Part 2: Speaking Without Translating

Mother Tongue, Part 3: Calling You Home in a Language Long Forgotten

Mother Tongue, Part 4: She Doesn’t Pay Lip Service

Mother Tongue, Part 5: Eyes and Instincts, Knowing and Soul

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