Pure Prowl

by Julie on May 19, 2016 · 0 comments

redpeonyunsplashcropped

image by Roksolana Zasiadko

 

 

Wildness, thick and dark.
Blood red.
Saturated Indigo.
Golden suppleness.

Jewel tones are captivating my pen.
Deep, rich, saturated succulence.
Vibrant, thick power.
It’s like I cannot get enough,
like my hands want to get into the colors,
and knead them like bread,
like a panther, midnight black,
big thick paws, claws extended,
making bread on mother earth.

There is no word for what I am feeling.
There’s only feeling and a low deep rumble,
like a growl with purr wrapped around the edges.
Definitely friendly, yet fierce nonetheless.

Thick, rich hindquarters moving in elegant cadence,
supremely sensuous,
all body, no thinking.
Pure prowl.

Brown eyes, wide,
slow like doe eyes,
yet piercing the night air with desire.

Yes, desire.
Desire and God.
Desire and freedom.
Pure prowl.
Jewel tones captivating my pen,
so thick I can’t get enough.

***

I wrote this during one session of Writing Raw during the fifth week where we cross the threshold of taboo to write about things that we have forbidden ourselves to write.

A taboo for me is the complete freedom to express all parts of myself, including this instinctive, powerful, sensuous desire that prowls just under my skin.

When we cross the threshold of taboo, we do not need to understand why it was made taboo. We simply get to explore what is considered off limits by writing about it, then reading without judgment, critic, or praise.

What is taboo for you to put into words, then read aloud?

The next session of Writing Raw begins May 24th, Tuesday at 9:00 am PDT. There is always a second session each week on Thursday at 5:00 pm PDT.

I would love to have you join us!

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mom

 

It’s Mother’s Day today here in the US. I woke up thinking of my Mom. She passed away just about eight years ago. Hard to believe I haven’t seen her for that many years.

As I thought about her, I thought of this picture above of the two of us together, in one of those picture booths they had back in the day. We were traveling across the country by car and these picture booths were available at many of the rest stops in the midwest. The rest stops situated on overpasses that graced the highways. My parents had just split up and mom was taking us to visit our grandparents in Michigan. She drove the four of us, my sisters and me, all the way across the country by herself in her 1964 1/2 Bronze-colored Mustang.

I got up and looked at the real picture and as I looked at it, what struck me, maybe for the first time ever, was her full humanity – the fact that she was just a human being. What struck me was her age – she was 36 years old here. So young to be facing motherhood on her own. She had her parents 2,500 miles away, but she had no siblings. And, she was facing great shame and judgment during a time when single motherhood was very uncommon.

She was just a woman, a young woman, hit hard by infidelity, separation, and divorce.

I could feel this ‘just a woman’ piece for the first time. You know how, as kids, we see our parents as gods? How they seem so much larger than life, as if they are super people with super powers? And in seeing them this way, their love when we get it is magnified like 1,000x? 10,000x? or even a 1,000,000x? And, so are their limitations, wrongdoings, and faults?

I don’t know if that is how you’ve carried your parents’ (especially Mom’s) limitations and wrongdoings, but for so many years I did. They hurt so much.

But seeing her here as this beautiful woman, trying to hold it together while in so much pain, and seeing me next to her, eyes full of love for her and getting my face as close as I could to her face, what has been left of any feelings of not enoughness-of-love fell away. I could see that everything hurt so much because I loved her so much. We do as kids. We love our parents so much because we are still in touch with that purity of love, that innocence of love – until we cannot bear to feel it in a world that’s forgotten it. That was how it worked for me. Perhaps, it was different for you. And, what I see is this underlying way children are, still holding up this huge image of Mom because the love within our hearts is huge and full and without resentment – until it no longer is huge and full and without resentment.

Oh, how I see her now in her humanness. Her frailty and amazing strength to do what she had to do. And, I see my love for her – my big-hearted, shiny-eyed love for her. I just wanted her to be happy and I couldn’t make that happen. I just wanted to be happy and I wanted her to see me happy, and she just couldn’t all the time because of course she was human and doing what we do to get through these lives we are living. Seeing her happy would have made me feel safer during those years.

It feels funny to be writing this at my age – like I should have this all together by now and I didn’t. And, I don’t.

To finally see her in her tenderness, with all of her flaws, trying so hard to keep it together when she probably wanted to just run away from it all, is the greatest gift I could unwrap on this Mother’s Day.

She is no longer perfection who fell from her pedestal. And, neither am I.

 

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divineflow

 

This morning, I woke up around 4:00 am and just lay there in bed, listening and feeling. It’s usually quite a busy time for me, 4:00 am. It’s the time when insights and epiphanies flood into me. This morning, I was aware of the felt nature of the experience of being flooded – penetrated by a river of divine inspiration. I could feel the wateriness and ephemeral nature of it. And in this state, I was also keenly aware of the difference in felt-experience of my mind trying to come in and in some way immediately negate the ideas. The mind felt rigid and tight like it was trying to shut the flow down by rationalizing (and/or catastrophizing) what would happen if I were to not only listen but act on this flow.

What I remember most about this experience is not the content but the mechanism of how things happened and felt – albeit at a 4:00 am speed. What stayed most clearly with me was the realization that the flow is always right here – right, here – and how the nature of my mind works to thwart the expression of the flow.

Today as I write, I can feel the flood coming in, yet when I’m fully awake my mind is busier and what felt like a clear flood in the early morning hours now feels like a constricted channel. I’ve felt this before. But today, I can feel how somehow my mind is creating the clog. It is easier to avoid feeling by going to ‘how’ instead of being still and listening.

It was just today that I came upon this from Simone Weil:

“Our thought should be empty, waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object that is to penetrate it.”

This is what I was feeling in the early morning hours…this openness, this waiting, this not seeking.

I woke up receiving.

When I sit back and observe my awake and active mind, it feels like thousands of connections happening at once (there are more, of course, most I am unconscious of), but I can feel the ‘noise’ of my mind. And my mind is pretty quiet today in comparison to how it usually is.

And, I can also feel the increased energy that flows through me as I am penetrated by this divine flow. I’m sitting here writing in a café and I feel this desire to go out and run or dance or walk in the sun just to discharge the energy. I feel like I’ve had a triple espresso, but in reality, I haven’t had sugar or caffeine or alcohol (or just about everything else that makes us groggy and sluggish) in 3 months. I’ve been on a diet (doctor’s orders) that is so incredibly clean. And in this clean space, I can really feel this energy flow.

But, even when I feel the compulsion to discharge it, I also do not want to discharge it. I want to feel it, to stay receptive, to come into direct relationship with it, to not fear how it will feel. I want to open to it, to receive it into me, to come into a relationship with it so I can simply listen and write.

So, instead, I sat here feeling it, listening, then writing what came, just as it came. I deleted three paragraphs ‘telling’ you in a ‘teaching way’ about these moments, because instead what wanted to come was the sharing of my experience at 4:00 am, my experience of the mind clogging the flow, and my experience of this intense energy flow.

This much energy feels like it is going to be ‘too much’ to feel. It is intense. And, it is just energy. It is simple flow. It is life force. To be in relationship to it means to be open, to receive, to be empty so I can receive what is coming into and through me. This is where I begin to really feel how closely creativity and sexuality are intertwined. To not discharge the energy but instead to direct it into creative expression is the invitation.

To listen in this way is a form of prayer. To write this way is prayer, too. I am learning how to do this, how to listen deeply and simply scribe. Sometimes it just happens, but usually, I don’t like this feeling of confusion that comes when I fight writing, and when I concoct all sorts of stories about what will happen if I put words into the world that feel wild and wooly and still smell of blood and bones and the earthy scent of flow.

This is why I love Writing Raw. I offer Writing Raw as much for me as I do for you.

I trust you will feel these words. They are pregnant with life.

*** image by Andrew Bertram

 

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Softer and More Real

by Julie on April 17, 2016 · 4 comments

 

photo yin yang

 

“The great secret of death, and perhaps its deepest connection with us, is this: that, in taking from us a being we have loved and venerated, death does not wound us without, at the same time, lifting us toward a more perfect understanding of this being and of ourselves.

I am not saying that we should love death, but rather that we should love life so generously, without picking and choosing, that we automatically include it (life’s other half) in our love. “

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrow

 

Twenty-one years ago, today:

How can I walk away from his body, knowing I will never see him again? I stroke his hair, golden with light. He looks so old, and yet he looks young again, too, young like when I met him. He’s always been so alive, so full of everything. He didn’t do anything half way. He was intensely loving and intensely alive. A million memories flash before my eyes. When we married, and I said, “’til death do us part”, I wondered when that might be, even if only for a split second. And now I know. Death has parted us and I now know it is time to go.

It is hard to take this last look and give this last kiss. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I touch his face, trying to capture the memory of him into the layers of my skin. His golden hair is the last piece of his body I touch before I turn to walk away.

 

April 17th, today:

Looking back, it’s been a long, long time since I said goodbye, yet through these years of journeying to find myself, to wake up, to come to some realization of who and what I am, I’m discovering that I’m also coming to know in a deeper way who my late husband Gary was, to have ‘a more perfect understanding’ of who we both were and are.

Yes, his death was painful. It was a tearing apart of two souls. And, it was also a tearing apart of places where we held each other up in this life, where he was my ground and I his.

It was also beautiful in that it opened me to a larger view of what it means to be a human being. No longer protected from pain, I found myself, as Joanna Macy describes in her interview with Krista Tippett, “dipped in beauty”. I remember lying on my bed, racked with grief, and realizing that I was experiencing a profound beauty. It was puzzling at first because those two things didn’t seem to fit together – painful grief and beauty. But there it was – the distinct experience of the beautiful.

Sometimes we have to know the deepest pain and grief of death in order to feel the most glorious joy and aliveness of life.

Now, twenty-one years later, as I sit more fully in my humanity, I see what a powerful teacher death can be. To live many years with this significant loss is an opportunity to not deny death but to carry it with me as I live. When I turned 47, the age Gary was when he died, I felt grateful to be alive. When my daughters married, again I felt so fortunate to be there to witness those important rites. And, when each of my grandchildren came into this world, I relished the moments much more than I might have if Gary had been there with us, too. Because death is a part of life.

There’s a bittersweetness to life when you carry death with you. By ‘carry’ I don’t mean to hang onto because I’m not willing to see reality. Rather, I mean living with the knowing that I am alive and he is not, and that his death helps me to remember that totality of this existence.

Gary’s death woke me up to that deep longing inside to want to know who and what I am. His death brought me more into life. I don’t know how my life might have unfolded if he had lived, but I do know that I would not have seen the deep, deep beauty that is inherent in the heart breaking open. His death also brought me to come to appreciate him more. The deeper I come into myself, the more I realize how deep he was and how much of him I never got to know. And, through his death and the profound grief I encountered, I’ve been able to be with the parts of my life, and in the world today, that have been, and are, truly heartbreaking since that day I said good-bye.

I share this with you as a celebration of the whole of life, as a remembrance to hold the whole of life with great love. I feel death can make us softer and more real.

 

 

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rosebud

 

 

…nothing is of such value or of such importance as woman’s rescue of herself. This is something very difficult for woman to accept because in the past the whole impulsion of her nature has been to respond to the needs of others. The fact that she herself is in greatest need of her own help, support and understanding is the very first step in the direction of polishing the moon.” ~ Anne Baring

 

I see the world through my own lens, just as we all do.

Seeing the world this way means we often project things onto the world, often in not so great ways. But, it also means we have a unique genius to how we see the world and how we communicate our particular view.

Oftentimes, I’ve been ridiculed, judged, and shamed for how I see beauty, value tenderness, and am in love with the sensuous. I imagine you’ve experienced something similar for expressing your unique view and genius, especially if it is a highly sensitive one in a culture that tends to shun what it deems to be weak.

What I’ve come to see in my own life is that pure joy is available when we truly and simply accept then express what we feel in our hearts, see through our eyes, and know in our soul. It is an acceptance of Self at a deep level. It is me accepting how Source expresses through me, and it is me honoring how Source appears as me. This is the acceptance I had been looking for from others, but this is an acceptance only I can give to myself, and it is the acceptance only you can give to yourself.

This rose is truly an expression of what I feel in my heart so often but could never find words to express. There are no words for how the petals of my heart open when I come into relationship with beauty such as this.

I’ve been in a bit of a tumultous time, trying to come to know what it is I truly want to spend the rest of my life doing. I love my work and I love to work hard at what I love. I want to live my life doing what I love, what my soul is here to do. And, it has been hard getting in touch with the place inside me where I know what I want, not what I learned I should want.

I learned well what I was taught. I learned well how to ‘respond to the needs of others’. But, I was not taught how to support myself or ensure my needs were met or even to listen so well to myself that I came to understand me. Yes, of course, I take care of my daily needs. But this call to know Self is much deeper. And, not only know Self, but honor Self and express Self through this vessel of me.

As I grow older, I see that I don’t want to die having only lived what I learned I should be. I do not want to die without having lived what I am, without having rescued myself into being.

For me, this is not living what the culture deems is worthy of living. I do not care to live in order to satisfy some external sense of a good life. I want to live the longing I feel in my soul. I want to live the longing that life has to live through me as me. I want to come to know myself as Self.

And so, this requires a softening that comes when everything is accepted, even the resistance to that softening and acceptance. It feels like a ‘dissolving into’.

I want to know the immediate intimacy of soul, both mine and yours. I want to experience myself this way and I want to know you this way, too.

And I want to know if you are feeling this same longing and desire? I want to know if you are coming to see that what can only be expressed through you is the most glorious thing you could ever hope to express in this lifetime?

This is the wordless conversation I want to have with myself, with you, and with life.

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dahlia2015

 

 

I see this soft undulating beauty, this riot of pink and yellow and orange, and I wonder…

Soft. Vulnerable. Open. This flower doesn’t hide her softness, doesn’t mitigate her sensuality, doesn’t contain her wildness. She doesn’t know to make others more ‘comfortable’ by mitigating her power. Life just flows through her, through her stem. She doesn’t resist blooming – she just blooms. Flowers don’t resist their call. They simply bloom.

***

This same life force flows through you and through me. Yet, we block this natural blueprint. How do we do it? By resisting what is.

In very simple terms,

there are two forces at work within each of us when it comes to comes to creating anything we long to create – heck when it comes to doing anything we long to d – with the emphasis on the longing.

One force is the force that longs to create.
It’s the longing within you, the creative impulse, the impulse of life to live something through you.

The other force is the force of resistance to creating (to living, really).
We give it many names like Inner Critic or the Voice of Judgment or even the Ego. It is the internalized voice of our parents, of teachers, and other adults who were in charge of teaching us about love and the world-at-large when we were young. But, mainly, it is simply resistance to ‘what is’. It is resistance to change, to risk, to being seen, to not being seen, and so on.

Sometimes it is helpful to go into the content of resistance; for example, what it is saying and how it feels in your body. Awareness is helpful when we acknowledge it without trying to fix it, change it, or even resist it (we do that, don’t we? we resist the resistance. if that isn’t a bit crazy making?). Ultimately, resistance wants to be seen, heard, and accepted so it can be set free, and we do this through love by holding the resistance in our awareness and feeling the feelings until they move all the way through into freedom. This is a lot of the work I do with my coaching clients. We learn how to be in a loving relationship with resistance in a way that allows it to be set free.

But, sometimes all that is needed is to acknowledge the resistance without resisting it. After this, we then put our awareness back on what it is we are creating by taking a single step forward, then another, then another. This is how we stay in flow – how we stay true to the soul’s call.

I’ve found through my years of coaching, and in my own experience, that you can use this process for anything you are facing that has an element of resistance to it. The simplicity is really helpful. When the resistance gets big and we get ‘velcro’ed’ to it (meaning so stuck to it that it’s all we see and know), then it can help to go into the content. But, often being aware of it, accepting it, and giving it space to be, without letting it get its hands on the wheel, can be enough to keep you in flow, moving to your soul’s call.

Where there is resistance, there is gold! The more resistance, the greater are the jewels our inner protector is guarding.

***

writingrawpin02I often see both longing and resistance in the women who write me to ask if my writing program, Writing Raw, is right for them. They want to join the circle, but often they have fears that it isn’t the right fit.

What do I tell them? I remind them that something had them write me, that there must be a desire or longing or wonder about doing the program – that something is calling to them. I suggest they feel into whether or not Writing Raw feels like it is a doorway into where that longing wishes to go. We CAN sense things such as this if we turn our attention to them.

The idea of joining a Writing Raw circle often brings up great resistance for a number of reasons. We resist going within, afraid of what we might discover. We resist really hearing our inner voice, reluctant to truly give that suppressed inner voice a chance to speak knowing it truly wants to speak. And, we often resist a deeper conversation about the erotic or about the sacred as they tend to be taboo subjects for many of us.

We can have resistance to certain ideas and words because they trigger things in us, even though at the same time we really LONG to go there. We can be so curious to explore our internal world, to find out what the experience of Eros truly is, and to come to know this raw energy within oneself. Yet, we resist it. 

But remember, where there is resistance, there is gold! Give the resistance acceptance and space, AND honor and follow your longing – whatever it is your soul is calling you to.

If it is Writing Raw, you can register here. We begin March 29th.

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fostercreativity

 

“…desire for expression lies deep at the heart of the invisible world. All our inner life and intimacy of soul longs to find an outer mirror. It longs for a form in which it can be seen, felt, and touched. The body is the mirror where the secret world of the soul comes to expression.” ~ John O’Donohue

 

I remember seeing the advertisement for a teacher training. It was 2002 and I had just come through a tough period in my life. I’d graduated from Stanford just a year prior and had made some fumbling attempts to find work, applying to jobs half-heartedly. It was a year of feeling unmoored like I had no idea where I was going. Nothing seemed to capture my attention or fuel any desire in me. Looking back, I suppose I was depressed on one level, but more than that I was in-between lives. I’d lost my dear husband. I’d finished a huge goal of finally getting my degree. I’d become a grandmother. And, I knew I didn’t want to go back into the work I had done before – the world of banking and information technology. Nothing had captured my desire until I saw this advertisement.

The teacher training was to teach ‘Creativity in Business’, a course that was offered for twenty-five years at the Stanford Business School. The word Creativity jumped out at me. It sent shivers of aliveness through my body – even a tinge of joy.

The business part was okay. There wasn’t much there, but Creativity? Oh, yes!

I signed up that day and my new line of work was launched – even though it would be some time before I had a sense of what the work was to be.

Since that day fourteen years ago, my work has changed and morphed in many ways. As my new life unfolded, my work followed suit.

But, this word, Creativity. I’ve come to know it as something that is as natural as breathing. We are hard-wired, and perhaps soft-wired, too, to create. It’s in our cells. It’s in our soul. It is the nature of life.

Over these years, I’ve worked with many people who (at first) were convinced they weren’t creative. Convinced. After the very first exercise I offer, they could no longer claim to lack this native ability.

We’ve been taught to believe creativity equals artistic talent, so much so that many of us are dying inside, our inner world becoming harsh and dry because this elemental need is going unmet. It is an absolute need we have as human beings, yet our current culture does not honor this need, and in fact, can make it very hard to meet it.

The thing is, though, WE are the culture. We can change the culture by changing how we are about creativity, not only within ourselves but also in how we honor it in others.

When we criticize, judge, and devalue one’s creative expression, including our own, we are stifling this expression. When we do this, we kill access to the source of innovation and leadership we need to be successful in our own lives, as well as that which we need as a culture to make the great strides we must make in these times.

Creativity is the source of innovation and authentic leadership, and its expression is a deep source of joy.

Our creativity IS life’s desire to live beyond itself.

If you are in a position of leadership where you influence and help craft work culture, pay attention to how free people feel to express themselves creatively. Creativity is what they do when they don’t know an answer to a question being posed or a problem to be solved. It’s how they navigate difficult conversations and relationships. It’s how they collaborate with others. Do they feel free to share ideas without fearing judgment and criticism? Or are they silenced before the deep answer can come? These are all rich opportunities for one’s soul to come forth, but soul won’t when the fear of judgment and criticism shuts things down.

And, yes, outside of work, the same holds true. Notice how your home ‘culture’ supports creative expression. Is there a sense of possibility and discovery when things aren’t known, or is there a fear of the unknown and a tightness about making mistakes? And, if you are a parent, how might you consciously encourage this need for soul’s expression in your children?

When you come to know you are creative, truly creative, you no longer fear the unknown in a way that shuts down your capacity for expression. Fear might always be there, lurking on the sidelines, but creative confidence allows us to be in the place of “I don’t know” with a faith and trust in your ability to bring something forth into form.

Soul IS the source of our creativity, and soul is intimate. It longs to be seen and touched. And it longs to touch. But, it will shrink back from harsh criticism. Trust, respect, and deep listening go a long way to encourage expression – both in yourself and in others.

Taking it one step deeper, knowing this need to express is at the heart of life can bring you closer to knowing and feeling this impulse within yourself. And when you do, you can trust in the same capacity in others. This is one of the most important leadership skills you can cultivate – the ability to foster a culture that encourages and supports creative expression both within yourself and in everyone you interact with.

The secret to doing so? Trusting that the “desire for expression lies deep at the heart of the invisible world”. And to do that, we must trust in the invisible, inner life of soul itself.

Remember how I felt when I saw the word Creativity? ALIVE. I felt alive. That was soul speaking to me after a year of dark wandering. Ultimately, that is what we really want – to feel alive. So beautifully alive.

 

 

 

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Where Three Waters Meet

by Julie on February 6, 2016 · 1 comment

esalenwatersmall

Esalen and the Pacific Ocean

I manage to make my way out of bed despite the darkness, the rain, and what I know is going to be cold morning air. I throw on warm clothes and a raincoat, grab my flashlight, and climb down the steep stairs to the first floor of our bungalow where one of my roommates, Corinne, is just about ready to head out. Her smile tells me she’s glad I managed to get myself out of bed to join her. We head out the door into the early morning, and the first thing I notice is the ocean’s roar. Here at Esalen, the land hangs right out over the ocean. Everywhere you go, you hear it…the roar of water coming home.

As we make our way down to the hot spring baths, which also hang right over the ocean, we meet up with another friend, Rachel, also on her way to the baths. It’s still dark, with the morning light just barely here. Off in the distance in the West, there’s an early morning sunrise forming just over the cliffs with new reds and pinks bleeding into the darkness. Now at the baths, we undress, shower, and make our way into the water. It’s hot, very hot, the tub just filled. I lower myself in slowly. Very slowly. The heat on my skin against the cold of the air takes my breath away, so I inhale and exhale, consciously, to bring myself back into my body.

Within a couple of minutes, I’m all the way in, minus my head, which is now being rained upon by very gentle raindrops. I’m listening to the roar of the ocean just below us and feeling the hot spring water wrapping itself around me. The cold raindrops increase rapidly and I suddenly, and distinctly, hear the words, “Where three waters meet.” I realize that here in this spot, in this moment, I am experiencing the medicine of three different waters at once, each distinct in its form, each offering itself to me in its own way.

We are here at Esalen for WisdomWomen, and over the first two days of this gathering of women from around the world many have spoken of medicine: how we all – human and animal, tree, rock, and water, sun and moon – have it; and how each medicine offers something profoundly unique and absolutely necessary for creation to wake up to and know itself.

Here, we’ve gathered to go deep with the land, to listen to what we know and don’t know, to source ourselves from something greater than any one of us, and to discover what life is asking of us so that we may serve life {my take on this time together}. And, in this moment where I meet these three waters, I can feel distinct qualities from each, and I want to know each water as it is. I sincerely ask each expression of water to reveal its medicine to me.

As I sit in the hot sulphur water, everything but my neck and face are underwater, soaking. I bring my well-heated hands out of the water and to my face, which is cold from the rain and wind. My hands meet the skin on my face and the heat travels into my cheek and brow bones. I feel this heat meet my bones, and feel how a subtle pain and tension in my face is soothed by the heat. The sulphur water has come from the earth, while the rain on my head and neck falls from the sky. And the ocean below, while not touching my skin, is meeting my ears and eyes. I am being bathed in many ways and for whatever reason, in this moment I am supremely conscious of the ways water and I are meeting.

The water of the earth and sky meet the water of my body and soul, just like the land of the earth meets the land of my body. Our bodies are the world and the world is the body. As above, so below. As within, so out there in the outer world. And, here in this moment, all division dissolves, all appearances disappear.

Where three waters meet, here, at this confluence of consciousness. 

I tell my friends of hearing the words, “Where Three Waters Meet”. A few moments later, Rachel responds out loud with a spontaneous Dekaaz, her trademark form of ‘lucid expression, that you create then speak out loud‘:

Meeting
Three Waters
Hot Springs. Ocean. Rain.

Corinne, Rachel, and I feel the rhythm of the words as we feel the water’s medicine. And then, I spot small dark heads out in the ocean. I think they are seals, but another woman states they are otters. Just out past where the waves break, the otters are bobbing together in the waves, up and down.

I’m feeling great joy. With women I’ve just gotten to know, on beautiful land, doing deep work as part of WisdomWomen, I feel at peace, at home. The weekend has been filled with moments of profound love on this land – so much love that simply walking on the land brings great tears and a breaking open of the heart.

When women gather, giving great respect, love, and attention to the land and creatures, we have the chance to come into contact with the deep knowing within ourselves. We remember what we are – of the earth, of the sky, of the water, of the elements – and, we remember how sacredly creative we are; how divinely in touch with creation our bodies and psyches are; and, how powerful we are – not in the image we’ve come to know power, but rather in the natural, organic, life-affirming power that lives not for itself but for life.

Where three waters meet…there is life, there is love, there is the joy of being alive, in this body, here, now, ready to set sail for waters unknown.

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lacytreeblackandwhite

 

I’ve been curious about the word agency; curious about the internal impulse from which a person’s agency springs, and what happens to that impulse in so many of us.

One of the definitions of ‘agency’ is ‘the ability for a person to act for herself or himself. A person who is not allowed to act for her/himself is lacking in agency.’  

Under what circumstances would an adult who is free to act however she wants not be allowed to act for herself? Only if she doesn’t give herself the permission to do so!

Somewhere within a woman’s psyche, there is a stern inner-patriarch who is just waiting to let you know you don’t have that power, waiting to revoke your permission. Often this inner-patriarch is hidden. We don’t see it. We don’t hear its messages. We just believe we need permission. As adults, we know it is ourselves that is keeping us waiting, but it isn’t logical that we would do this to ourselves.

Ultimately, this feeling of agency must come up out of the soul, out of the strength and will of our essential nature. When we take responsibility for our creativity and act on the inner impulses that arise out of our own life force, we honor soul and we honor our lives.

To do so is also exhilarating because it means we are beginning to live our true autonomy. It means we are honoring that which must be lived and those qualities which bring us alive.

 

To stand fully in your life as a creator, know that


1) Creativity is not simply art; it is Source expressing through your humanity.
Often we can believe that creativity only shows up in art, but that’s because most of us were taught that creativity is only expressed through artistic endeavors. Creativity is the language of soul. It is the language of change. Creativity is not rational, logical, or linear. And, it is not irrational. It is the intelligence of life itself coming into being in the physical world. It is how we navigate and create within a world that is inherently unknowable. Creativity is Source expressing through your beautiful human self.


2) Your soul longs to express through your human self.
You are naturally, organically, and inherently creative. You have everything inside you to live what you must live and to create what you must create.  As Neruda wrote, “I want to do with you what Spring does with cherry trees.”You are the cherry tree and life coming through you is the creative force. There is an internal desire within you to express, a longing to express.


3) You must find, and act from, your own agency.
You are your own agent of expression and will always be the only agent of expression that can come through you. You have sole the power and authority to bring your creations into the world. No one else can give you permission. When we stop looking for someone outside of us to give us what we believe we need, and when we stop attempting to trade our own power for something we believe only others can give us, we can then find the root of this personal agency, the root of Being that is the light within us.


4) The Voice of Judgment is powerful, but not as powerful as your creativity.

There is a force at work, both within your own psyche, and in the overculture at large, that wants to keep you from standing fully as a sovereign human being and expressing your unique creativity in this world. It can be the inner patriarch. It can be the inner critic. I call it the Voice of Judgment where judgment comes from yourself, others, the culture. Know it is here. Learn what it says and how it attempts to keep you from creating. Do not believe it when it says you need it. You don’t. It will only keep you silenced. Yes, it is doing so to ‘keep you safe’. But staying with yourself (see #5) ultimately brings more strength than the Voice of Judgment ever could.


5) Stay with Yourself, no matter what, through the act of remembrance.
The essential root of your creativity, and the courage required to live it, comes from and through a deep, honoring, and conscious relationship with yourself. No matter what, stay with yourself and when you leave yourself, come back to yourself. We can leave ourselves many ways. I leave myself most often when I worry what someone else might think of my creation, my idea, my work; or, when an old pattern pops up wants me to believe that someone else has authority over me and I must acquiesce to their desire (or implied desire).

Remembrance is the act of remembering what you really are. It is the act of coming back to the center within your own being. When you come to see you’ve left yourself, remember the Source of your life.


6) Your relationship with the creative unknown requires trust – deep, solid trust.
The one thing I hear from almost everyone I’ve worked with on creativity is that they fear the unknown. This has been true for me, too. In fact, it’s been the biggest thing that keeps me from creating. But, I’ve come to see that what we are fearing is not really the unknown itself, but what we are projecting onto the unknown. And what we are projecting (usually judgment, abandonment, etc.) come out of our early life experiences.

Listen, deeply, to the unknown. It isn’t what our minds tell us it is. It is the alive, intelligent, creation from which everything is born and into which everything eventually dies.

The creative unknown is love.


7) You are the only one who can create the creations naturally within you.
Your soul is the manifestation of Oneness into the form that is you. You express qualities of essence that are unique and that uniqueness underlies all of your creations.  Therefore, no one other than you can bring them forth. If you do not bring them forth, they will die within you.


8) When you honor that which longs to be expressed through you, you honor your Soul.

Your works of expression might never be respected, appreciated, or loved by another human being. They might be. And they might not be. But, when love is the guiding force of all of your creations, whether artistic or business or parenting, or any other area of creativity, the love that moves through you loves the creations it creates. The intrinsic worth of your creations can only come from your own love for yourself and your creations. Then, once your creation is offered into the world, each person receiving it gets to decide how they wish to respond to it. How they respond to your creation is how they respond, and how they do does not change its intrinsic worth.


Know that the Source of your creativity loves you. The Source is love itself.

To stand in your own authority and act with your own agency takes courage. It is important to have an alive, available relationship with soul. To know that you are being held by soul and that you are the only one that can, and will, bring soul forth is to fully come to know, through lived experience, the absolute love of this relationship.

 

 

 

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I Am Not That

by Julie on January 16, 2016 · 3 comments

 

Manuel Barroso Parejo

 

The walls of the room where I’ve danced for over thirteen years are made of thick wooden slats. Each one, about four inches wide, stained dark brown, offers a surface to push against, to create space between my body and a world that attempts, or has attempted, to close in on me, asking me to conform, to believe, to shrink, to silence myself, to become smaller, tighter, more like what I am expected to be.

But I am not that.

The body knows I am not what I’ve claimed to be.

Hands push against, hard against the slats, arms reaching to their full arc, feeling their full length, their full aliveness.

Hands pressed against the slats, feet firmly planted on the floor, I move to the beat, slowly arcing and arching out into fullness of being and expression. Something inside me pushes out, trying to return to its natural shape and arc and arch, trying to feel into what it remembers itself to be.

Space opens, virgin space between center and the arc of my full reach. Space opens, lungs expand, belly relaxes, hips soften, and big exhales come.

Suddenly there is room for soul, room to feel beyond body, to know that I am not this body yet beautifully and firmly rooted in and through flesh and bones.

Something inside knows it is not ‘in relation to’ but instead ‘simply is’. Something knows that all moves to be this or that could never be the expression of what it is.

What it is has no counterpart, no opposite, no comparison. What it is just is.

I find myself pushing away from… ideas and meanings and arguments. Not arguments as in arguing, but arguments as in crafting a cogent, logical premise and all of the words and ideas that must follow in order to substantiate my point and myself.

I find myself pushing away from… stating my case, needing to tell you how to be, needing to tell you how I should be, and needing to tell you anything about yourself.

Who am I to say?

I find myself pushing away from… separation, me here, you there, objectification, duality, and pushing into freedom where there is only one.

Outside of my mind and thoughts and rigidity, I find freedom. Freedom to just breathe, to feel the inhale and exhale on the soft skin just below my nose and above my upper lip. Freedom to feel the true spaciousness of soul as I shimmer and flow ever so gently as a stream. Freedom to listen for song, to feel appetite, to know the rise and fall of each wave of creation creating itself.

I lie on the day bed in virgin space, soft after three days soaking in pools of warm sulphur water, feeling waves of being, softly moving in and out, in and out, in and out, alongside breath. I move in and out.

Here, self is fluid space, silently becoming and dissolving with each breath, outside of the mind that conceives of. There is no longer an impulse to do anything, fix anything, change anything. It all just flows, on its own, in its own rhythm, beat and meter.

No river banks. No shore. No solidity. Just pulse, heart beat, rising, falling, contracting, expanding.

Everything is new and old, ancient and deep, virgin and light, growing and decaying, one sea.

::

photo by Manuel Barroso Parejo under creative commons zero

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