A Walk Can Be a Question

by Julie on November 29, 2016 · 0 comments

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Detail of wooden gate on Divisadero St.

 

Sometimes, when I feel the nudge, I take a walk here in the city over from my place to Divisadero Street and then walk down Divisadero toward Market Street. As I walk this section of Divisadero, I thoroughly enjoy the feeling in this part of the city. There’s a lot going on. I find inspiration everywhere: in the people, in the diversity in general, and in the architecture and design of things. Like the gate above, the color, the creativity, the craftsmanship.

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afternoon light

There’s a cafe I love. The people are friendly enough, but also have that hip edge. They combine the love of coffee and bread, baking the bread fresh there so the smells fill the space. The windows and high ceilings offer amazing light to work in. They play music is from a phonograph and records (and often the music of my teenage years). And the customers are hip in a design kind of way.

I walk, sometimes stop in the cafe, and generally just soak it all in. And, I find that when I return home, I am inspired to dive into and work on what has been sitting on my desk waiting for my return.

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Victorian detail

The inspiration fuels my creativity. Diversity in people and in all things does that. It feeds and nourishes us and our own essential expression.

When we’re working hard or perhaps even struggling with something that we don’t quite know how to move forward on, it can be helpful to remember that we aren’t separate from the world. Often, this idea is seen as a kind of esoteric, spiritual idea – you know, like the idea of Oneness in that we aren’t separate from each other. But, it is a practical understanding, too. When we venture into the world in a state of amazement and wonder, following the thread of the things that spark our interest in the things we intrinsically love, we stimulate our creativity. We become aware of ways things can bridge together. We become aware of ideas and insights that can be just the thing to spark what is waiting on our ‘desk’ for our return.

Our creativity is fed by what is present here, right now. Life responds to the questions we ask, even when the question we are asking is something as simple as a walk down Divisadero Street.

Yes, a walk can be a question if we are open and attentive, and listening deeply for the answers life is offering.

Life is a creative process, so any walk, activity can be such.

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Red light overhead

And, when you are deep in a current process, actively strategizing within the incubation phase of this process, activities you consciously engage in to stimulate responses, knowings, and cross-pollination become rich sources of inspiration for that wonderful AHA! moment you are working toward.

When I take a walk down Divisadero Street, paying attention to all that appears before me as I go, I come into direct relationship with the answers life is offering to my question. I am stimulated by life, by the things that inspire me.

A practice for you.

If you’re working within a creative process right now – and I am sure you are as just about everything we do is in some way a creative act – make time to explore. Take a walk down a street or path, or to a place that inspires you, that calls to you. It might be in nature, but it can just as well be in a part of town that stimulates you. On your walk, pay attention to everything. Look for a particular color, or a particular shape, or a particular anything that gets you to really look at your surroundings in a way that is brand new. Then, watch what happens.

Fair warning:
This can cause you to be happy, feel alive and grateful, and unleash your creative joy into the world!

 

 

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A New Love

by Julie on November 11, 2016 · 5 comments

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“The biggest problem today isn’t just that hate is speaking so loudly; it’s that love is speaking too softly.” ~ Marianne Williamson

 

Late in the afternoon on election day,

I was beginning to feel antsy working at my computer. So I went for a walk to the park where I could sit against my favorite tree for a bit. I needed to ground myself and breathe. I played some upbeat tunes as I walked, feeling pretty happy and somewhat confident that the outcome of the election would match my vote.

I sat with my tree and then I walked some more. It was a warm and balmy 68 degrees. Walking in my flip flops and a tee shirt at 6:00 pm, I wondered how the returns were looking. I returned home and checked online. Suddenly, I began to get nervous, barely believing what I was seeing.

As the evening progressed, my nerves turned to anxiety and I hovered on the edge of that old familiar feeling of trauma that has a sense of panic to it. My PTSD was kicking in with the thought of a Trump presidency. The fear of all of that hate being normalized and expressed in a presidency caused a feeling of shock to begin to set in. But at this point, a funny thing happened. I began to feel a clear energy rising up into me, a solid, steady beam of power rising up through me, like a rod, moving up into me from the ground below, and continuing up into my heart.

It’s not that feeling power was new to me, but the particular form and feeling of this power was.

As the evening wore on and it became clear Trump would win, the power never wavered. Even though the traces of trauma hovered on the periphery of my awareness, the power continued to move up out of the ground, through me, and into my heart.

I didn’t feel afraid of what was coming. I felt strong and ready.

 

Here’s the amazing thing.

On Wednesday morning, and throughout the day as it progressed, a few women told me they felt a similar power. And, I read numerous accounts online by women who shared some form of this same experience – the awareness of an energy that felt new and clear.

Two days later, I continue to feel it. It has a steadfastness to it and a kind of clarity of purpose. It is the power to look directly at what we are facing, to finally look ‘the beast’ square in the eyes, and to take clear direct action in response.

This energy is love.

“Sanskrit has ninety-six words for love; ancient Persian has eighty, Greek three, and English only one.  This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have thirty words for snow, because it is a life-and death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately.  If we had a vocabulary of thirty words for love … we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart.  An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love.  Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it come to feeling.”
– Robert Johnson, Fisher King, p. 6

This is a fierce love that is being felt in more than me, a fierce love that is being felt in the collective. I feel it coming from the ground below, from the Earth, from the ground of my being. It’s like a rod of light within.

We only have one name for love while there are 96 names in Sanskrit and 80 in ancient Persian. When we speak of love in our culture, I think we often speak of a softer, tamer love. This is not that.

We exist in a culture that is based on ideas and words, not on awareness of energies within us, or how the body feels, or even the possibility that things exist that we cannot see or even explain in words. Because we have no words for all the kinds of love, we don’t even consider that there might be many kinds of love that exist and that are the very things we need to do the work we must do.

What if,

like the Eskimo culture, we are not only close to dying of loneliness but also close to giving up on our capacity to evolve as a culture and as a species because we have no name for this love that won’t allow us to turn away from the horrors we’ve unleashed as a species? no name for this love that makes it clear it is imperative we connect to each other, no longer allowing ourselves to separate into us vs. them like we have learned to do?

If you knew it was love calling you to rise up in response to the hate and bigotry being unleashed by all of us in some form, by people from all over the world, how would you respond differently with what is occurring?

If you knew this love was coming deep out of the core of your own being, deep out of the core of the Earth, would you trust it, would you allow it to move you to rise up in response?

What I notice is that when I am in tune with it I feel an imperative to connect with you, an imperative to offer what is coming through me, an imperative to act.

Years ago, I was in a year-long study program on Sacred Activism with Andrew Harvey. At the time, I felt called to engage in this form of activism – one that marries love and spirituality with being an activist in the world, but I couldn’t tap into my own fire. I was cut off from it. While I could intellectually see the need for this work, and even emotionally feel the need, I could not tap into the energy of fierceness he was calling for.

Now, I can.

This is fire. This is the fire from the center of the Earth. This is her love. It is her fierce determination to care for all of her children in a way we don’t even consider she might – through US!

Consider a mother bear with her cubs – how she will take down anything and anyone who is messing with her babies. That is love. The Earth feels the same for all of her children.

Let yourself feel the depth of this threat we now face.

It’s not the threat of Trump and what he has unleashed. It’s not the threat of the status quo we’ve been hanging onto for decades through the politicians who’ve been running this country and others. It’s the threat of no longer caring for each other, no longer seeing each other’s humanity, no longer being willing to stand up for our sisters and brothers who have been marginalized and brutalized for centuries. It’s the threat of being so separate from our environment that we can’t even feel the pain that the Earth is enduring. It’s the threat of being so consumed with our desire to possess that we have forgotten that nothing is ours, everything is a gift, and what brings us the most joy is to give back.

The deepest threat is our unwillingness to see things as they are, to look squarely in the eye of what we are facing, to not turn away in denial.

This love is the rising feminine in all of us. She has been rising, but I sense she is now burgeoning from within each of us in the face of what we are now seeing in our world. She knows how to move into those places where her love has been forgotten. She knows how to nourish and succor that which has been starved of her presence.

For quite a while now,

we’ve danced with this idea of the sacred feminine. As women, many of us have done years of work to come to know her and embody her. Many of us, during this time, have mainly seen her as something for us individually, something for us to have and take from.

But she is not this. She is not for us to take. She is for us to live. She is fierce in her need to replenish the places where she was made not welcome. People have been forgotten, not cared for, not loved. This is our job to do and she is reminding us that she is the source of this love.

We are here, at this moment, together, not just half of us, but all of us for it takes all of us to create this situation where love can finally be unleashed in its full, profound glory. I can feel this love rising, unchained and free.

It is time for love to be speaking louder than hate and she is ready to speak through me, through you, through us.

Turn to the Earth, bow down to her, and ask to be filled with her love. Let her help you grieve.  Let her hold you while you grieve. Ask to be filled with her love. Ask to be shown and filled with her knowing. Ask to know and be filled with her wisdom. Ask to be blessed, then be the love that she is.

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photo by Bennett Dungan at Unsplash.com

 

I want to share something with you about creativity and its source.

It really has to do with creativity, about the place from which our creativity flows, and about how we long to communicate with each other what is inside of us and how difficult of a task that really is. And on some level, it is about the (truly) unconditional love and understanding that holds us as we attempt this communication. Even when we feel we haven’t been understood, on some level something is always understanding. Even when we feel as if we haven’t been loved, something is always loving us.

When I first offered Writing Raw, I wrote something out to read on the very first call, hoping to answer this question for myself first:

What is Writing Raw?

And then on one of our calls this week, I was asked this question. And, so, I read what I wrote a few years back…

Writing Raw is writing from the edge of experience. Writing from the Soul. Writing that is formed in its own way and form that does not (have to) fit any currently acceptable writing format (e.g. essay, poetry, paragraph sentence, word. Writing that comes out of something else, first, before the words form.

Writing Raw has no particular outcome or result is intended. Instead, it is simple to deepen your capacity to listen, to feel, to hear, to open to and receive what is emerging from within your own body and soul so that it can be shared into this world.

Writing directly from these sources: sensation, internal images, visions, feelings, and the sense using guided visualization and  sense-guided exercises, and (not included on our calls) music and movement.

Writing Raw is learning to trust in what you sense is here, trusting that it will tell you what it is, trusting in the unseen and what you know and sense.

 

As I read the words aloud, my awareness moved down into this place from where words arise, a place deep within. And, out of this question and my sincere response, something opened up in me – a place that I’ve felt before, but never so clearly and powerfully. And my writing in this same session reflected this place…

 

My voice reverberates throughout my body,
Liquid words rising up out of
This dark pool of Being,
The ground of all that is.

As I hear my words, I feel
A velvet sense of love here, a radically kind presence,
Simple in its being, always
Holding me in radical kindness.

Bathed in Understanding, no matter
What I write or say, I am understood.
This radical kindness holds everything close, in love.
Nothing I do can push this presence away.
There is no away. There is no away.

And so,
I rest,
Here in this kindness,
A speechless wind on my lips.

And then in the next writing,

Held in this Absolute Understanding,
I am free. I am gradual ecstasy.
Nothing holds me but love,
A radical kindness that never leaves.

Nowhere to be found and everywhere, too,
I am
Held in nothingness.
Loved in everything.

Kindness finds its way into my cells,
Always fluid, in flux, changing
With the breath. Up and down.
Rise and fall, heart echoing against these nowhere-to-be-found walls.

This dance between worlds appears in words
And the spaces in between, each word
A wholeness in itself, each word
A world coming into being, that dies away as soon as it comes.

There is no solidity, and yet
We communicate.
Me to you and you to me,
Passing words back and forth

In the hope of landing in a place of
Understanding for just a moment,
In the hope of standing,
Together on some small patch of ground.

I share this with you because it has been so hard to articulate what Writing Raw is and offers. I see it is the nature of what we are doing – learning to write from a place that is before words, learning to trust in what is unseen yet felt and intuited.

orangeandgreenwritingrawI know the other women on the call felt this place of radical kindness and understanding. I could feel that we found this understanding between all of us, for just a moment, together standing on this small patch of ground, for a moment, just a moment, until it changed with the next breath. But what doesn’t leave, doesn’t change, is the radical kindness and deeper Understanding that is love at its core, as well as the sense of connection and community that flowers when we share from this place with one another.

This is where we write from. This is Writing Raw.

We have finished our first week, yet you can still join. All of our calls are recorded, so you can catch up by listening and writing to these recordings, and by entering into our Facebook group and introducing yourself.

Find out more and register here.

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Deep Water

by Julie on October 17, 2016 · 1 comment

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Photo by Yulia Sobel

 

“Whether a woman is efficient or brilliant in spheres hitherto deemed masculine, or whether she remains in a traditionally feminine role, modern woman must discriminate and relate to the image of the spirit, while at the same time maintaining her roots in her basic feminine nature – that which receives, nourishes, and gives birth on all levels of being through her awareness of the earth and her ability to bring up the water of life from under the earth. All her true creativeness springs from this.” ~ Helen Luke

 

Lately, the pull of the power in my Hara is strong. When I read these words, the pull intensifies. The darkness grows. Some glimmer of knowing shines.

My real work. Down in. Deep down in. Where dark pools shimmer and eternal springs flow. There is a work here that is not work. Not the way we think of work. It is a returning to the deeper images and symbols that lie in the dark waiting to reveal.

I lie in my bed and feel the pull of the tide wanting to take me out to a place of no destination, no ideas, no thing. I can feel it is a place of deep life, before ideas. It is life prior to. I feel a bit like salmon, following this deep call to return to my spawning ground.

Images call to me from below. One is a single flower, with few petals, open to the light, and a single root, feathery and long, reaching down into. The image comes often. I stand in front of my easel, paints on one side still in their tubes, tubes still in the plastic bin that keeps them tidy, brushes circled up in the old spaghetti sauce jar I’ve had for decades just for the purpose of corralling my deep ache to paint. I stand in front of my easel with the image calling and I cannot let the horses out of the corral. My mind has reasons – reasons I do not note. I know the reasons are lies. I know they deceive. But the image is strong. Rising up out of deep water. Wanting to come into being. In its own way. A clear image. Pulsing. Rising up out of the deep water of my own existence.

And, yet.

There is so much that exists prior to the word. And the only way I can find my way to paint is to set the words down, to let go of their structure and supposed definitions. For they are only symbols, too; nothing other than symbols for this experience of life that is ultimately only deep water images finding their way to the surface, reflected onto an existence no one can name.

I will go and stand again in front of my easel, this image before me. What I no longer want to do is impose myself onto this image, forcing it into some idea of what I think it should be. I’ve done that most of my life – except for the early years before I learned about ideas and control. The early years when I simply painted what wanted to come.

I am learning to open to the symbolic realm. I am not good at it. I’m used to trying to understand with my mind rather than letting the symbol itself guide me. But, I want to learn again how to offer myself to this image. The flower wants to come. Only these hands and this heart can bring it to life.

 

***

orangeandgreenwritingrawWriting Raw, my six-week circle for women, begins tomorrow. We are going to dive into this place of no thing, this place that is before. At least we will lead ourselves there.

It’s a beautiful experience of learning to listen to the world within, trusting what you hear, and bringing it out into the world.

This will be the last time I offer Writing Raw in this format. If you’d like to join us, you can read more and register here.

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Unsticking the Stuckness

by Julie on October 7, 2016

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“Being stuck is good—it means that what needs to be written
is intense, maybe painful. Or it’s complicated
and requires careful consecutive thought.”
~ Alice Mattison

 

I just returned from co-leading a weekend writing (and more) retreat with Ronna Detrick at a place lovingly named Pine Manor, in Lake Elsinore, Ca. There were fifteen of us, total; fifteen women who gathered to deepen our capacity to write and trust our hearts.

I learned so much from guiding these beautiful women deeper into both their writing and their ability to trust their voices. This process to go deep into trust isn’t easy. It can be intense and painful. And it is beautiful.

I’ve found in my own writing journey that when I come upon, then enter into, a place of stuckness, I’ve invariably found a rich vein of gold just waiting to be freed and woven into something of yet unknown strength and beauty. When we touch into the edges of these stuck places, we begin to feel what the place holds. And, the whole reason there is stuckness there is because we haven’t wanted to feel what is in this place.

Somewhere inside of us, we know what the place holds. It’s why we’ve worked hard to ignore it, stuff it down, and pretend it doesn’t exist. And when we begin to feel it, just about everything within us tries to turn away from this entry into it. We judge what we find. We resist it. We look for something else more positive to focus on. After all, if we are writing, we want to write something beautiful and positive, something others will want to read. Yes?

This is where trust is especially important. It’s trust in the unknown, the dark, the wisdom of your own body and the mystery of existence. It’s trust in the greater intelligence of life – that everything being offered to us is for our own unfolding, our returning home. And trust in the process of writing – that when we truly write what is here, right now, the deep intelligence and beauty of life can come through, even through seemingly gnarly, uncomfortable places.

On the last morning of the retreat, I realized how clearly and closely the creative process is tied to the grief process. The creative process brings us into a deeper relationship with our true nature by opening us to the unknown. As does grief.

Grief brings us to this place, right here, right now. Grief fully engaged brings us present to life as it is. If we’ve entered into a forest of loss, it is grief that brings us home to what is true no matter how painful it is to embrace this new reality.

What lies in those places of stuckness? Grief not felt. Experiences never honored through the ritual of grief. Grief isn’t a one-time thing we save for big losses and then only superficially engage in. No. Grief is the gift we human beings have been given as a way to engage with the difficulties and vulnerabilities of this human life. Grief is how we navigate this life that is anything but easy and always-light-filled. Grief is the way we navigate the healing of the tear in the fabric of our own being that we experienced when young. Grief is what brings us out of the stories that keep us locked in the past and fearful of the future so that we can finally come home to now – to our true nature – to our infinite and vast creative potential.

Grief is what finally, as it brings us home, offers us a glimpse of the astounding beauty that is here in every moment if we are aware of the essential nature of this world and our place in it.

To access the depths of our creative voice, as well as transform the part of ourselves that does not trust our own voice, we must journey through the grief process to set free the experiences, feelings, and habitual patterns that are lodged in our bodies. Yes, these are places of stuckness, and…they are also beautiful and sacred places, like elements buried deep in the earth that have been pressed hard into jewels, like carbon into diamonds. When we enter into them, all the way in, when we hold them in a deep embrace and come into relationship with all they hold, the light held there is set free and can finally begin to shine through.
Alice Mattison’s entire quote is this:

“Being stuck is good—it means that what needs to be written
is intense, maybe painful. Or it’s complicated
and requires careful consecutive thought.
It’s often possible to get unstuck by
asking oneself simple, sensible questions
(like, “What do I already know about this story?”
or “about the next scene?”).
But maybe I’d write better books
if I let myself remain stuck longer.”

I agree there are many times where a simple, sensible question will unstick you. And, I know when we are willing to BE with the stuckness until it reveals what it knows, words you never expected can begin to flow.

***

orangeandgreenwritingrawOn October 18th, we begin the fall Writing Raw circle. Come join us as, together, we dive into these diamond places within, write from what we discover, and then read our writing aloud into the circle.

It is freeing to begin to trust this voice within you enough to write it and share it with others. It not only frees your writing, it frees your soul.

Read more and register here.

 

 

 

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A Deeper Relationship With Earth

by Julie on September 17, 2016 · 9 comments

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Sunrise, Tara Mandala, 4:30 am

 

It’s 4:20 am and I’m awake. Sleepily, my eyes open to the amazing night sky out the window just next to my bed. For some reason, even though this day is going to be a long, full one and I know I will need the sleep, I can’t sleep. The light from the soon-to-be-rising sun is just barely perceptible along the edge of the San Juan Mountain range outside my window, and even now at this early hour, the saffron-colored walls begin to come alive with this new day.

As I lie here hoping to go back to sleep, deeper within I know something different. I hear an inner voice say, “Get up and go outside.” This  beautiful land is inviting me outside. The land called me here to Tara Mandala, and I responded. I am here for just a few days to co-lead WisdomWomen’s Visionary Gathering. My time here is precious.

So, I get up, throw on my clothes, grab my camera (phone) and journal. I head out into the early morning, down the stairs of Prajna Residence Hall, and out on the path to the community center. Along the way, I pass by the small pond along the road and turn to see the color of the sun barely noticeable in the water’s reflection. I take a picture. It is time-stamped 4:34. It is early and cold. There are no signs of anyone else up yet.

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Temple at Tara Mandala Buddhist Retreat Center

As I enter the community building, it is dark. The kitchen staff doesn’t begin till much later. I decide to have coffee, something I do when I am away, especially when I am on retreat. The coffee smells divine as it drips into my cup. I then take my hot cup and journal and go outside to a spot I’d found the day before, just off the side of the community building. There are two plastic chairs. So I sit down in one. My view is looking out at the Tibetan red temple up on the hill where we began our retreat the night before and where we will spend much of our full day ahead. It’s still dark so the temple is hard to make out, but even so, I can see the recognizable red from this distance. As I sit and take it all in, I can feel Her. I can feel the earth –swollen with life waking up from a night separated from the sun.

I pull out my journal and write:

The land here at Tara Mandala is incredibly powerful. She has a kind of holding I’ve never experienced before. I woke up at 4:00 am and felt Her pull in my heart. She told me to come to her, down into Her. To look directly into Her heart. To remember what it is to be Her daughter, and to now wake up to and grow into the sacred blueprint of what it is to be a mature human being who loves all of Her children as She does. To be here, now, fully and open-heartedly, as a vital member of Her joyful family. She longs for this. She longs for us to remember and see and know the beauty of Her heart and soul, and to walk on Her skin with delight and a fierce determination to return Her body to a home where all beings are safe and at peace.

This is the great trauma we have endured and are enduring- this separation from the Great Mother, from Her love, which is also the painful separation from each other and all beings. And She is clear, we can return to Her right now, at any moment by feeling how our blood and bones are held in the rivulets of her waters and the deep valleys of her heart. 

Here, right now, I can feel her so clearly. I can feel her love. I feel immersed in her. Everything in me ripples with her love. Time seems to stand still as I watch the sun come closer, the Blue Jays flit between branches, and the Deer meander through the meadow directly in front of me. The Jays are noisy this morning. Probably they are noisy every morning, but their insistence on being heard reminds me of how life is busy at this time of day even though most humans are still fast asleep.

I sit and sip my coffee, just listening and watching as life emerges from night to day. To fall into her embrace, we must soften. We must let go into being here and being human.

I am softening into her, and as I do I am consciously choosing to be here, now. To be here fully in my life. To accept that she is my mother and I am her daughter. To no longer fight against life. To draw her nourishment up into me through deep strong roots into her. I never put these roots down into her because for most of my life I didn’t want to be here. I think this is more common than we believe.

Without the roots, we cannot be nourished by her.

Without the roots, we float in our human existence.

Without these roots, we cannot know the depth of love that is here for us, and cannot truly love her and be the eyes, the ears, the touch, and a voice for her soul.

 

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Standing on Kīlauea Caldera, a powerful, sacred place on Mother Earth.

 

The story goes that… 

Eve – you know, the one in the garden with the scaly close confidant – bit into a big, red, juicy apple – based on advice from said confidant. I know it was a big one; not the apple, but the bite.

Eve wanted that apple. She had a big desire. She wanted to bite down hard. She wanted to devour that apple.

How do I know? Because I am Eve – a woman who desires.

The juice. The red. The big fat bite.

 

I used to think…

there was something wrong with desire and having the kind of appetite desire requires. I used to think that I needed to hide it. I used to think these things until I met myself in the crater of a volcano and began to let it sing to me of the truth of hot rock, undulating lava, and brand new earth. Something happened there on the lava bed, there on the floor of the southern edge of Kīlauea Caldera on the big island of Hawai’i when I visited a few weeks ago.

A caldera is formed by the collapse of an emptied large underground pool of liquid rock, a liquid that snakes its way along, voraciously devouring everything it runs across. Can you imagine the hotness of this heat? Can you imagine that is the hotness of your heat, too, of your desire? Because this same underground pool of liquid rock is what forms out of your own existence, the same lava that snakes its way up and out of the ground of your own erupting desire.

When I feel my desire, I feel waves rolling up out of the deep ground into the sonorous caverns hidden deep under the surface sense of my body. And, when I ride these waves, sensing their exquisite rhythms, what I see and know and feel is the overwhelming desire to bite down into life I want to bite down into life – just like Eve, just like the volcano. We aren’t that different, Eve and I. We aren’t that different, you and I.

My appetite for life is big and full and healthy – when I am in touch with it. But, often that’s problem. Often, I’m not in touch with it. It can disappear in the blink of an eye when I tell myself it is wrong. I can grow cold in an instant, muscles tightening like lava cooled for centuries.

In the past, I’ve often…

felt embarrassed by my desire, like it is something to be ashamed of – after all, I am Eve. It is my relationship with desire, my physical, somatic experience of the potency of desire itself, that most frightens me. Desire in my body feels too big, too much, too out of control. Desire itself feels dangerous. And then it’s a fast track to sensing that if I desire I am dangerous. Like a volcano – a mix of beauty, heat, fire that both destroys and creates. Often we as women are more comfortable with water, air, and earth, but fire? Fire can wreak havoc on the world, bringing down structures that no longer serve and never did serve.

Exactly.

Ultimately, under my embarrassment, fear, and shame, like under the dirt of the earth, is this real, alive, vital connection to the source of creation. Just like lava flowing into the ocean creates new land, hot desire flowing through my life creates new territory, a new expanse of land and life yet unexplored.

The volcanoes in Hawaii are different than ones in other parts of the world. They are Shield Volcanoes. They flow. Like the Feminine. They have broad gentle slopes. They are built almost entirely of fluid magma flows – highly fluid lava, which travels farther than lava erupted from Strato Volcanoes. This low-viscosity lava travels great distances; spreads itself out across the land, creating these broad gentle slopes out of this brand new earth.

This is how I feel…

I don’t erupt when I express – in the bedroom or otherwise. Instead, I flow. I spread myself across in broad strokes. I become larger and more connected to this earth. I become a more fertile field. I am like a woman giving birth, the womb expelling new life, new ground, the new flesh of a human being, into this world, not sure at all just where that new life will travel.

But I’ve allowed my own flow to be constricted and restricted. I take up way too little space. The expanse of my soul is yet to be known. I feel cramped up, reigned in, contained.

 

Something’s got to give…

This mountain of flesh and blood and bones has got to give. I’ve got to give what I’ve been gifted with – the capacity for fire and the cycle of destruction and creation, for to have the creation of something new, something must first be destroyed. We don’t like that word, but this is truth. Destruction can come in small ways. And it can come in big ways.

Often life does it for us, leaving us in the wake of destruction where we find ourselves in a new fertile bed of possibility.

Desire is the force of creation, the creative force of the universe. It is the seed in the seedbed of Eros and when the seed splits open desire pours forth and creation creates the blueprint at the heart of each desire. It is power. No wonder we are taught, as women, not to desire.

When we are very young and the purity, innocence, and truth of our love is questioned and mistrusted, we come to question and mistrust and eventually fear the intention behind and the safety of our own love, the love that is the flowering of what we really are. We come to no longer believe in the innocence and purity of our true nature. Eventually, though, we can come to see that this is where we erred…that the light within that we fear never did lose its luminosity and brilliance – never did lose its fire. Indeed, this fire is the radiance of our love.

We come to fear what is at the heart of what we are here to offer and create. This fearing brings great grief; we must then grieve the loss that comes with fearing our own nature in order to remember and touch back into the purity of desire itself, the innocence of Eros, the longing that is at the heart of love.

 

To take back your pleasures,

to take back your sensuality and eroticism is to take back your power, joy, fulfillment – and fire. To take back your appetite is to take back your ability to feed and nourish your soul and quench the thirst in your own heart. To take this back is to remember that it was never anyone else’s.

You belong to no one. You belong to life. And it is the life in you that is the source of your fire and appetite for life.

Desire wants to spread itself out across the territory of life, consuming experiences that expand the soul’s capacity to be here, fully. When hot lava pours itself across the land, it does destroy, but in the path of that destruction, virgin soil appears, seeds crack open, take hold, and grow. In the fire of desire is an intense love for this world, for the earth, and for all of Creation.

***

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within. — John O’Donohue

JulieRonnaBadgeWe will work with desire at our “Writing (and Trusting) Your Heart” writing retreat at a beautiful retreat site in Lake Elsinore, California.

Desire is a fire that can ignite your writing. Desire felt fully in the body, for yourself and your own creativity, is a gorgeous threshold into yet unknown places in your creative world.

This isn’t just for writers. It is for women who’ve longed to look within and find that it is easier and more pleasurable to do so surrounded by other women who long for the same.

I will be co-leading the weekend with my friend and fellow-writer, Ronna Detrick. In our work with women, we both work from this perspective – that it is through kindness that we best come to know ourselves as we truly are. When our gaze toward ourselves is filled with tenderness and acceptance, everything changes. It doesn’t make it easy, but it becomes simple. And it is easier surrounded by women who also hold you in this gaze.

We still have space and I would love to have you there. I feel it is going to be a remarkable weekend.

It’s in Southern California from 9/30-10/2. If you’ve been considering coming, now is a good time to think it through as flight costs begin to increase.

If I can answer any questions you might have, please reach out.

 

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darkrose

photo by https://unsplash.com/@sebamolinafotos

 

Because of our wisdom, we will travel
Far for love.
All movement is a sign of
Thirst.
Most speaking really says
“I am hungry to know you.”
Every desire of your body is holy;
Every desire of your body is
Holy.
Dear one,
Why wait until you are dying
To discover that divine
Truth?”
― Hafiz

 

 

Last week, I spent two days away with a dear friend.  We had hours to talk while sitting on her porch, eating our meals, and walking at the beach that is just down the road from where we were staying. We talked about many things, yet everything circled back to one topic: pleasure and desire.

If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know I write often about the erotic and Eros. I’ve been exploring this capacity we have as human beings to feel deeply, and especially how the erotic is experienced by women. The deeper I go into my body, the deeper I go into this work because the erotic is about feeling and we can only feel if we are present in our bodies.

As we become more and more embodied, becoming conscious in these places that have been numb for so long, we must feel the old feelings that have been held hostage there. The journey into my body, consciousness awakening in the cells, has brought me deeper down into the root and into the place where our sexuality and creativity rise up out of. I discovered a great amount of grief was stored in my body, most recently in this sacred place where our sexuality stirs. This isn’t surprising considering the world we must inhabit as women, this world where women are denigrated and shamed for being sexual creatures, while at the same time being objectified in a way that tells us our sexuality (and the erotic) is for men yet not for ourselves.

Bridging this gap between our sexuality and our sacredness, this place where we know our desire and our journey toward love is holy, can feel like such hard work. There are many feelings that caused this gap in the first place, feelings we often name shame, guilt, and fear. To bridge the gap, we must feel these feelings. I’ve spent the past five years as a single woman doing this work. And now, I am beginning to date again, beginning to enter back into this world. There is great joy in being in my body and feeling Eros stirring. And, I am watching and listening for those old stories of shame and fear about what and who I am.

For the past sixteen years, I’ve been clearing away and liberating all of the old, stuck stuff that I took on when I was young – old feelings, beliefs, and tyrannical inner messages that caused me to really hide my sensual and sexual nature. I am sure you can relate. I feel it is the journey so many of us are taking as women alive on the planet today.

Now I’m getting down to the real essence of what my soul has been guiding me toward, and I sense I am getting there because I’m finally much more alive and conscious in the cells whose job it is to offer me the amazing experience of being a sexual, sensual, and yes, erotic woman. There is something about finally bridging this gap between the sacredness of life in a woman’s body and the inherent dignity of our sexuality – bringing the awareness of love into down into the realm of the deeply-layered flesh of my female body.

Even though we’ve been taught differently, the erotic is so much more than sex and sexuality. Audre Lorde wrote:

“The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feelings. In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression in our history must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed (for instance within our culutre as women) that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered soure of power and information within our lives.”

This is my real desire – to be so keenly awake to this erotic energy within that it blossoms and grows organically, and that it guides me to know and live the power that is inherent within me as a woman. The erotic is our lifeforce. It is the source of great wisdom and power. And, it is the source of great joy.

Pleasure and desire are, and feel, good. This is something to celebrate. And when desire is seated in the lap of the deep knowing of self as holy, it is a gorgeous force for healing, a powerful force for awakened creativity, and a source of knowing.

In touch with our erotic nature, a kind of self-confidence is born out of one’s core. It’s a confidence that knows that this force that blossoms out of you is rooted in love. This confidence can flourish knowing that this power has no desire to be used over others but rather in service to life itself.

THIS is the shift in awareness, expression, and choice that we must make as women right now in our world.

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The flow of red is bittersweet

by Julie on July 7, 2016 · 1 comment

sparrowPhoto by Linh Pham

 

A slight taste of sorrow mixed with the
sweetness of red juice running down
the inner blush of my skin
where bone and blood meet.

Through the soles of my feet
the red sap flows
into the earth where she
swallows it with glee.

The earth knows no words of possession.
Everything is shared and offered.
Pumped through stem and trunk
and blood stream alike.

We make so much of trying to
understand what it all means,
yet the cherry is red, I am the color of this flesh,
and there is no meaning.

My heart is breaking. Not in the big
dramatic way but the barely perceptible,
just under the surface of my skin
where the sweetness of red swells.

The sap swells my heart.They are
not such distant cousins, hearts and cherries.
Cherries to one day be found and
eaten by a plump red bird.

Like cherries hanging low on
the branch, glistening in the moon’s
reflection and so close to outweighing
the branch’s hold on them,

I glisten in the moonlight as
her light draws the tides of my heart
in and out with the ever faint swoosh
of the beat and the blood.

To let go into her love
is to dissolve into juice
that feeds a thousand sparrows.

She calls me to her and I go
willingly, my stem breaking
under the weight of longing.

(c) Julie M Daley, 2016

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IMG_0156

 

Since suffering as well as joy comes with being human, I urge you to remember this:
Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.
~ Parker Palmer

 

The other morning, I woke up with words hovering right at that edge between night and day. Words about grieving – grieving not just death but also life.

I had to get them all down. So, with a yellow, dollar store composition book in hand, I walked to my local cafe to write. Along the way, I passed by my favorite beautiful tree that sits at the end of my street, right at the entrance to the park. She’s stately. She’s broken off – branches ending without warning or explanation. With one of her limbs sitting atop another, she supports herself to keep living. It’s clear she’s been through events that have hacked away at her body. But she still stands, an elder, each morning taking in the sunrise from the east.

I feel like that sometimes. An elder, a bit worse for wear as I grow older, limbs helping each other to keep standing upright.

I got to the coffee shop, ordered my almond milk and cocoa powder hot chocolate, and sat down to write in my yellow book, the words still hovering right at that edge. With the sun rising through and into the window in front of me, the words began to pour out, words about how I had to find a way to grieve life – to actively grieve life – to grieve the pain I feel living in the world today.

The words came out in chunks, different chunks about grief and life and death and how hard it can be to just be here as a human being on this earth.

I’ve written so much about how beautiful it is to live life in a human body. But this was all about how hard it is and how so often I don’t want to be here – not in the literal way of taking my life but rather in the energetic way of wanting to just numb or distract myself.

***

It is incredibly vulnerable to be here in a human body. My life is a cake walk compared to the majority of people on the planet, yet for most of my life, I’ve had this underlying resistance to being here, completely and fully.

We are taught that grieving is for death, and sometimes we are taught that is for other losses, too. When my husband died, I didn’t know how to grieve. Grief is a natural human thing, but the truth is we’ve not been taught how, and we’ve not been encouraged, to grieve fully. We learn our emotions are too much. We learn to talk ourselves out of grief, telling ourselves to get on with life, to not dwell in the past, to not wallow in our feelings.

In my life, I’ve come to see that grief fully entered into and embodied is nature’s way of bringing us out of denial and into reality. It’s an intelligent process. When we feel it fully and wholly, it moves through us, cleaning out of us all the ways we fight reality, and leaving us with the capacity to know true and deep abiding joy.

When we feel great discord with the way things are, something is off within us. When we have no outlet for our suffering, we become disconnected from life – which then allows us to be violent and not feel that violence in our hearts.

Grief is our human way to be with our suffering. Fully experienced grief will bring us into right relationship with life. That is what grief does.

Thomas Berry wrote,

Only now have we begun to listen with some attention and with a willingness to respond to earth’s demands that we cease our industrial assault, that we abandon our inner rage against the conditions of our earthly existence, that we renew our human participation in the grand liturgy of the universe.”

We don’t grieve the life we are afraid to live and the Self we refuse to be.

We don’t grieve the rage we feel.

We don’t grieve that life is beautiful, but that this beauty encompasses the totality of experience – the sublime and the horrific – and everything in between.

We don’t grieve, because we will not acknowledge that we are powerless to life and death.

We don’t feel our suffering because we are often taught that if our lives don’t go well, we’ve done something wrong. We are taught that if we are suffering we are at fault for that suffering. The cultural message is that to suffer shows weakness and to grieve shows weakness so we walk around all armored up as if nothing can touch us.

We do not want to see what is really here – the powerlessness we feel in response to life. Instead, we are taught we are all powerful so we attempt to control what we let in. Life then becomes something that can only be good/successful/happy (fake), sad (fake), not real, not alive, not spontaneous, not full of wonder and magic.

And when we control, we lose awareness of Source within us. This is the ultimate loss. Once we lose connection to Source, it becomes much easier to be violent.

When we grieve everything fully, though, we make our way back to this Source within. Our hearts break open and we begin to feel the distinct presence within of something greater than ourselves. We come down into our flesh. We begin to know the wisdom in our bones. We feel the depth of our humanity and our powerlessness to both life and death. This is what I felt when I was in the rock bottom depths of grieving my husband’s death.

Grieving fully is not quick nor is it easy, but it is the doorway into being fully alive.

***

As I finished writing, I noticed the sun had risen quite a way up into the sky, the entire population of the cafe had changed, and cocoa was empty and I was hungry, ready to eat breakfast.

I gathered my things together, including my now slightly heavier yellow notebook, and began my walk back home. As I came upon the tree again, the day was moving into mid-morning and the sun was now shining upon her.

I felt such love for her seeing her there in the sunlight and thankful for what she gives to me and my neighbors who live in her radius. I sense that in appreciating her and deepening my relationship with her, I am deepening my “human participation in the grand liturgy of the universe.”

Being here on earth offers the most amazing possibility: to know self as human and Self as Source, to become conscious of the love that we are so that we might live this love on earth.

May we all find our way down into the flesh of full human participation.

 

 

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