Pleasure: Soul Sustenance

by Julie on May 19, 2015 · 0 comments

IrisLavender

 

 

Every Sunday morning, I dance. Last Sunday was no exception.

As I danced and felt much pleasure from being in my body, I realized how I’ve pushed away pleasure for most of my life. I know I am not alone in this. Perhaps we do this when we grow up in a culture where the undercurrent of belief is infused with pleasure equating to sin.

But, it’s more than that. As I danced, I began to feel the pleasure myself, and for a moment it felt odd that there was no one else there…only me. I was enjoying my own experience of pleasure, sensual pleasure, and there was no ‘other’ in the experience. I could see something I hadn’t seen before: that giving myself pleasure, either through dance or any of the things I love to do in my life, changes the experience of who I am in others’ company. I know this sounds simple, but hang with me here for a minute.

In my life, and I am sure in your’s in your own unique way, there’s been a silent undercurrent of ‘having to BE pleasureable’, like it is a duty I must fulfill to be a pleasurable person Or, that if I am good I will give others pleasure. Could be sexual, could be in another way. But, as I felt pleasure, I realized I was pleasurable without having to BE anything. The only thing I was doing was doing what I love and truly being in my body while doing it.

 

I was simply feeling pleasure. I was taking myself into myself.

 

It reminded me of something I’d read this past week. I came across this post by Erin McKean where she writes:

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

I realized that we don’t owe pleasure to anyone either. Offering pleasure to another ‘is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.’

Instead, when we participate in those things that are pleasurable, we radiate pleasure.

Sometimes it is hard for me to know what I desire, what I want, what I love. In that moment of dancing, there was no question. I was loving how it feels to be in my body, loving how it feels to dance, loving how it feels to be a sensual human being.

I included this Iris picture here because this picture brings up the same feelings of pleasure…sensual, pleasurable beauty. This photo takes my breath away. The colors. The feeling. The dreaminess. It works on me, through me, removing layers of resistance I have to knowing my own self in this way.

We are hungry for such pleasurable beauty, for such deeply sensuous tenderness and pleasure in our lives. Hungry for it. Aching for it, because the soul loves it. It is soul food.

The soul gets to feel what it is to be alive through the body, and heaven knows there are enough moments in the body when life is not pleasurable.

Why not feed the soul some really lovely, pleasurable sustenance?

Pleasure is soul food, and what I was experiencing was truly a divine connection between my conscious self and my soul. For me, this is the most important relationship in my life. And knowing this makes my quest for living a life of love all the more alluring because I know it is my soul that brought me to dance in the first place. She guided me there and she continues to guide me into what I truly love, for it is She who truly loves.

:::

bafonbadge300pxPleasure is just one of the weekly topics we explore in my 12-week program, Becoming a Force of Nature. Pleasure is an important area of exploration for those of us wishing to be more alive and more in our bodies. Pleasure is part of life, and it is a gift to offer to the soul.

If you’d like to go deeper into the way I facilitate creativity while applying what you learn in real-time to your own life or business vision, join me for this summer run of Becoming a Force of Nature. Registration is now open.

This is a powerful course. It can be a vehicle for deep transformation, as well as practical, tangible movement on a intention you are holding. We will dive deep into the creative process. We’ll experience first-hand ways to creatively meet life’s challenges.

When you live your life as a work of art, you come to realize you are the true creation.

This is the last time I will be offering the course in this format. Along with 12 teaching calls, you’ll receive 12 rich multi-media PDFs for each course weekly segment. After the course is done, you’ll be able to dive even deeper by way of these rich interactive lessons.

Take a look to see if the course is right for you. If it is, come join me for this summer journey.

 

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“Do you have the discipline to be a free spirit?”

~ Gabrielle Roth

::

The other morning, as I was walking home from taking my grandson to school, I had one of those epiphanies that makes a big impact on how one sees the world. As I walked past a bright yellow house (and I mean BRIGHT yellow!), in my mind’s eye I could clearly see how everything – everything – exists in a sea of awareness (what I could feel was love). In my mind’s eye, I was aware of everything – thoughts, senses, perceptions, feelings, objects, ideas, visions, etc. It was as if they were floating in this sea that is consciousness.

What I noticed is that the awareness that I am (and that each of us is) could choose where to place focus, choosing what to focus on – UNLESS I became fixated on something – a mood, a thought, a particular outlook, a way of being in the world, an identity. When fixation happens, it’s as if everything else goes into the background and what is being fixated on becomes the most important, really the only, thing that’s seen.

When this happens to me in life, often the fixation is so compulsive and unconscious that the move to fixation is imperceptible. At some point, I become aware that I am fixating – usually because I feel some sort of rigidity and frustration.

Over the past years, I’ve focused on waking up out of this compulsive and unconscious tendency to fixate. It’s what egos do. They fixate. Rather than flowing and trusting, they fixate. As I’ve come to know life as it can be when it is more free of this unconscious fixation, I’ve been fighting structure while craving it, too. As I walked, I realized that the structure I have been craving in my life is not the same structure I’ve fought; rather, what I was being shown is the power of focus, the power of choosing, consciously, where to place your focus and attention.

Focus as I am writing of it is very different than fixation. Focus directs consciousness in flow. Fixation causes consciousness to go rigid.

 

Many people think controlling yourself is stopping yourself from living, holding yourself back from experiencing life, but really control puts you in a position to be able to channel and direct pure energy into any task you do, so instead of being scattered all around, you become an absolute force to be reckoned with.
~ Clairey Fairy

 

As I walked, what I could see is this kind of directing of pure energy. Clairey refers to it as controlling. I felt it as a kind of focus and directing. The directing was coming not from my mind, but from somewhere down deeper inside me.

It was coming from an inner radar that registers what feels right and true in the moment.

When we clearly and succinctly place our awareness and energy on something, we become this ‘force to be reckoned with’, because what we are IS a force of nature. Instead of it being diffuse, suddenly it becomes a powerful beam of consciousness, clearly focused on creating. Living life as a creation, as a work of art, is a kind of freedom. Yet to do this, requires structure, discipline, and focus. In my case, fighting structure has been fighting myself. I had to find this out the hard way. Even though I teach this work and have for years, I, too, am learning how to open more to the creative process. We are always learning, if we are open.

In working with many people, I’ve found there is this longing to be free of the constraints placed upon us by cultural ideals and standards that smother our authenticity. We long to be free. Yet, we also long to create. How do we hold them both?

Expectations keep us from being creative – expectations of others, of ourselves, and of how things will turn out from the choices we make. Placing expectations on life, and on others, keeps the realm of new possibilities at bay for if all you see are what you expect then the only things you will create are those things that come from what already exists in this world. And, if creativity is what is new, then what you create will not even really be creative.

So, the first questions from students is always: “Well, if you don’t have expectations, what keeps you from drifting in nothingness, doing nothing? What keeps you from being a couch potato? How do we move forward without expectations?”

I’ve often struggled with how to articulate this because it doesn’t fit into our current idea of how to be successful in the world. We are taught success comes from pushing and striving toward the completion of goals. However, pushing and striving almost always come from expectations – in fact, often goals in the way people usually hold them are really just expectations.

How do we hold a vision, feel the longing to create, while allowing life to move us in a way we cannot know ahead of time? It’s a dance between the vision we see, which we can call an intention, and keeping our awareness open to what shows up – paying attention to what comes back to us in response to the choices we make.

Expectations are a way of rigidly fixating. Intentions are a way of creatively focusing.

An illustrative example:

I have a vision in which I see myself speaking on stage somewhere in the world. I don’t know where this is, but the image is clear and the image keeps coming. I see a few other details, too, that I use to fill in the vision. I am speaking about creativity and love, and how we are so deeply connected to the earth. On stage, I am using multimedia (photos, videos) to supplement my speech. It’s really more of a combination of storytelling and poetic prose.

Now, how I will get to this place I don’t yet know. If I were to set goals, which I might, I could be tempted to make them pretty rigid without wiggle room. I could be tempted to begin to envision a linear process to ‘make’ this happen. But I know creativity is not a linear process. It is a very feminine process, one that winds and weaves as I meet life with an open heart AND a more ‘masculine-like’ structure of intention. Without any structure, I have chaos. With too much structure, there is no room for flow and possibility. And, all the while I listen, sense, and feel for what is next, for the direction I feel called, using my mind as the rational ally.

We need both the flow of the feminine and the structure of the masculine for a healthy creative process.

What I saw the other day was a clear image that showed me how I can see focus differently than how I’ve been holding structure, and for me this was a powerful insight because it helped me to know how it feels to do this. The image allowed me to feel it in my body. I know how it feels when my focus is scattered (this I know well!), and then I could feel how it feels when my focus is direct and channeled.

It’s all a dance with life. We meet life and life meets us. It takes trust, and it takes us being a willing, open dance partner. It takes learning to deeply listen, to feel, to sense…all things a good dancer knows.

Awareness and the wisdom of the body allow us to channel our life force to create with intention, while at the same time following the guiding hand of life.

In this way, we become a powerfully creative force of nature, in tune with nature, in service to nature, in service to love.

I’m curious about you. What have you noticed about focus and discipline and structure? How have these helped your creativity? How have they hindered your creativity?

::

bafonbadge300pxIf you’d like to go deeper into the way I facilitate creativity while applying what you learn in real-time to your own life or business vision, join me for this summer run of Becoming a Force of Nature. Registration is now open. This is a powerful course. It can be a vehicle for deep transformation, as well as practical, tangible movement on a intention you are holding.

We will dive deep into the creative process. We’ll experience first-hand ways to creatively meet life’s challenges. When you live your life as a work of art, you come to realize you are the true creation.

This is the last time I will be offering the course in this format. Along with 12 teaching calls, you’ll receive 12 rich multi-media PDFs for each course weekly segment. After the course is done, you’ll be able to dive even deeper by way of these rich interactive lessons.

Take a look to see if the course is right for you. If it is, come join me for this summer journey.

 

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Lately, I repeatedly see an image in my mind’s eye. When it appears, it’s always the same. I’m standing in the middle of the scene and on one side of me is a pool of thoughts and idea(l)s made up of what other people think, what the culture says, and what my own Voice of Judgment tells me. On the other side of me, the right side, are the deep, dark mysterious waters of my soul.

In the image, I have a choice. I can choose from the dark waters of my own soul. Or, I can choose from ‘conventional’ wisdom (what is often not wise at all) and the roar of judgment from so many different places, including my own head. By judgment, I don’t mean conscious discernment. Rather, here judgment means the kind of thinking that is meant to keep the status quo in place, keep people in place, keep things from changing. This kind of judgment does not like the fact that life is constantly in flux. This kind of judgment wants to contain, control, shame, dominate, and keep small. Again, notice it is both out there and within.

But, you might be wondering why I include ‘conventional’ wisdom in this mix. To me, it is the unconsidered status quo, the stagnant conventional thinking, that keeps true creativity from being able to enter our world, either our own personal world, or the world at large. And, boy do we need some truly creative ideas and expressions at this point in the human journey.

Creativity upends the status quo. Creativity isn’t conventional. Creativity is brand new and comes when we’ve allowed the fertile ground to be turned under, left fallow, and then tilled for new life.

Creativity comes out of the deep and dark mysterious waters of the soul.

We can try to pin it down, trace it back, figure it out – but ultimately where it comes from is unknown and cannot be known. We can name it, but we cannot truly know it except as an experience because it is alive.

Creativity is alive. Purpose is alive. That which keeps us from being creative and purposeful is stuck and stagnant.

In this image, I can see so clearly how important trust is – the trust of both what lies within me and my ability to hear it and act from it, as well as the knowing that every other human being also is creative and also has a deep well of creativity within them.

I see how often my attempts to understand my purpose, my reason for being alive, have insidiously come from looking to others, or my own Voice of Judgment, for information, validation, or ideas on what this purpose might be. Looking out there isn’t the same as true mirroring from those who know you and really listen to you. Effective mirroring can be a source. But, ultimately, even mirroring must be checked against the knowing that comes from an alive and trusting relationship with one’s soul.

And, I see it is a choice. It is always a choice. Sometimes, I go unconscious in the choosing process, and choose out of fear of humiliation, abandonment, rejection…. like everyone else.  We are meant to be in relationship and community. Our minds can get squirrelly when we think we won’t be.

This image began appearing after beginning to engage in direct dialogue with my soul, which isn’t the easiest of tasks. But, I did hear her clearly, after asking the question, “How do I begin to follow your lead in my life?” Her response? “Don’t make anything more important than me!” (exclamation point mine!!!)

This image shows me clearly that in each moment it is a choice to not make anything more important than where my soul is guiding me.

***

What I’ve come to begin to see, (and I write ‘begin’ because, again, we are speaking of the mystery) is that to open to our true purpose we must honestly, in the most way, begin with the question of “Who am I?” and “What am I?”. This is the journey of turning within to ask, to look, to listen, to feel and sense…and then to learn to receive.

When we learn to trust in our nature, both as a creative being and as a woman, something shifts. There is less need to look out there for validation and approval. There is more joy from the acceptance of yourself and who and what you are. And, there is less fog and confusion about things in general, fog and confusion being a way to avoid life and acting on your own behalf.

Your nature is both universal and unique. The soul has unique qualities, and in my experience and in the work I teach, it is these soul qualities that begin to give us a sense of what we truly are. These qualities are NOT static things. Often, when we think of personal values, they are static things. Rather, these qualities are qualities we find when we investigate our own experience(s) to notice the feeling states inherent in them.

Like creativity, experiences are alive, not simply concepts.

To know purpose, we continue to come back to what is uniquely alive within us. What is the feeling quality of an experience when you are doing what you love? We aren’t focusing on the outward expression or the objects of life, but on the feeling state of the experience.

I wanted to share this image here on my  blog because the tendency to turn to someone else, or someone elses, to see ourselves is so strong. We learned to do it when we were really young because more often than not those adults in our lives who might have really mirrored our own light back to us couldn’t see it because they, too, hadn’t been seen.

But as adults, we can begin to do what it takes to look within, to remember that there is this vast inner world of soul.

This inner world will guide us. It is always here. It never left – we just turned away.

You might find you have your own image. Soul speaks in images and symbols. Open to what your soul shares with you.

Now, when I see this image in my mind’s eye, in my image I turn to soul and open to receive.

Just this act is everything.

***

I’ve just opened registration for my course, Becoming a Force of Nature.

bafonbadge300pxThis round of the course will begin on June 9th and run for 12 weeks. In Becoming a Force of Nature, I teach and offer experiential ways to make this turn back to the inner world, and then to begin, or deepen, what can be a long journey to trust and faith in oneself. This will be the last time I offer the course in this format. I may offer it again, but it will change – because my work is changing. I do know that if I offer it again, it won’t be in this format.

In fact, I’ll be teaching it a bit differently than I did the first two rounds. On our weekly calls, I’ll introduce the material and then facilitate the exercises on the call, so you have your first taste of each week’s material together with your classmates. Then, after the call, we’ll spend the remaining part of the week ‘living with’ the material. You can read more about this on the registration pate. There is so much great material in these 12 weeks; SO much that you can take the course with me the other women in our group, and then – at your own pace – go through the 200+ pages of PDFs that contain so much exquisite detail and interactivity.

The depth of the dive you can take is quite astounding. And, doing it a few times is exactly the way to deepen your journey. The PDFs contain everything I will teach on the calls, but they take things deeper in a way that you can utilize to your advantage. Taking it live with me the first time will activate the material in a certain way. After that, using the in-depth writings will allow you to deepen the experiences you had in our time together.

I hope you’ll take a look and consider joining me. You’ll find a new video on the registration page that I created to give a little more background to the material and its capacities to effect change in your life.

 

***

I’m in two new podcasts on the subjects of Creativity and Becoming a Force of Nature – one with Amiel Handelsman, the other with Charlie Gilkey. Take a listen. I know there are some wonderful gems in each of these podcasts. Both Charlie and Amiel are great interviewers and I even learned much more about what it is I do.

 

***

Image above by The Wandering AngelCreative Commons 2.0. No changes made.

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I’m discovering a lot about anger and love, and holding onto the old pain of not being seen nor given what I thought I should have been given. I’m learning how to be with anger, and I’m learning it holds a place at the table laid out by Love.

I offer it here as my experience. Perhaps it might be of use to you.

It’s old, old stuff this anger. But, what I know about this is that we leave ourselves psychological grappling hooks to the past, a hook into a place where we refuse to budge until someone listens deeply enough that ‘letting go’ can take place. We cannot force the letting go. It has to come from the part of ourselves that put the hook there, the part that must be listened to, the part that must let go of her own accord, in her own way. She will let go when she feels heard and seen and loved for who and what she was in that moment in time, including her anger – or whatever other emotions were there that felt, and still feel, too big or bad or wrong to accept.

And what I know in my own life is that the one who must listen is me. We must listen to ourselves. We must allow the voice to be known, heard, and received. This part must be honored, acknowledged, and cherished for who she is, just as she is, with dignity.

Think about it. What would allow that hook to be let go of? What would allow that hook to give way?

We cannot force it. We cannot make the letting go happen. Only she, the one who placed it there, the one who still hangs on to it, the one who took that moment in time and froze in it, with it, as it. She is still back there, waiting for what she never got. Only she can unhook the hook for she is the one caught back there in time.

And what she taught me when I finally found her back there after all these years, when I finally traced my way back to that hook is this:

You cannot force another to give you love in the way you think you should be loved; but you can receive the love they offer you.

You cannot force another to receive the love you give, but you can give it unconditionally in whatever way you can.

You CAN give yourself love and you can receive your own love. You can complete this circle of love within your own being. This is really the only place where this can happen – this circle. And it can be infinitely given and received. You can be an infinite circle of unconditional love. Perhaps this is what self-love really is.

I’m finding it begins right here. Right now. I open my hand to her. She didn’t take it immediately. She didn’t want it. She wanted what was back there, back then. I had to listen to that. I had to not try to change her mind. I had to hear her out.

This is where anger comes in. She was angry. Pissed off. Royally so. Anger was a message that something was off. Something was wrong. Not acknowledging my anger just made that hook go in deeper.

She’s been fighting against everything – but doing so down where I wasn’t conscious of it. It was affecting my life, yet I could never quite see why what was happening was happening.

Over the past few weeks, as I’ve opened more to the deep well of unexpressed anger within me, it began to come in waves, wave after wave, so powerful, so alive and radiant. I could feel it being lifted out of the tightly packed pockets it had been stowed away in for decades.

And after feeling it, giving it the space it needed to flow again, it feels more integrated, like I now understand I need it. Of course I do. It is here. It is a part of what it means to be human. It is fuel for creativity. It is passion. It reminds me that I am a soul with dignity, and that others also are souls with dignity.

I can now feel that the anger knows it holds an important seat at the table laid out by love.

If it is all love, then it is ALL love. Everything has a function, a place. Everything within our own psyches must be seen and touched and acknowledged with dignity. If it is all love, then it is ALL love.

And if you’ve been taught that these voices are not real – try telling them that. Try to inform them they are not real. I’ve tried. It does not work. They will hold on to that hook until the cows come home…or until we die…unless we listen and open and love them as they are.

And if you tell yourself to ‘suck it up’, to ‘get over it’, or some other such phrase, okay. See if that works for you. It worked for me as long as I refused to feel what was really here – until the pain of it got to be too much.

These parts are some of the hardest parts of our psyches to be with. They are the ones we push away vehemently. And they’ve felt this push-away for years.

This is deep soul work. And it is worth it. It is taking responsibility for ourselves at the deepest level so that we can fully live our lives in a way where we can respond to life, rather than push against it.

These parts are waiting to be a part of this circle of love. They long to receive love…and they have much love to give.

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rose

full, fertile,
softest petals on a
strong, fierce stem.
each petal brushes against the
chambers of my heart.
each breath rides along the
petal veins.
lines blur.
petals become flesh,
veins carry life.
heart flutters,
tickled by such soft
layers of existence.
fragrance fills the chambers,
petals fall away,
leaving only scent to fill this fecund abyss.

everything courses along these veins.
fragrance infuses cells.
each inhale a becoming,
each exhale a death.

this line is fine,
so short-lived,
so numinous.
and the heart keeps beating,
the bones stand strong and sturdy,
the blood circulates,
doing the heavy, fleshy lifting
for a mystery that both
must be
and
can never be
known.

(c) julie m daley

written during a #WritingRaw circle.

:::

I’ve shared a very special four-part series on embodying soul, Of Soil and Soul: A Call to Remember,
over at Pema Rocker’s SoulGrowthRadio.com
Each part will be made available each Sunday in April. The first part is now up and ready.
I hope you enjoy it. The work is part of a larger body of work to be published later.

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In a Woman’s Body

by Julie on March 20, 2015 · 2 comments

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Today…

is the vernal equinox. And, today there’s a new moon and a solar eclipse. (The eclipse was visible somewhere else on the planet and I was fast asleep!)

Who knows what this all means. What I do know is that my body has been guiding me to remember what I once knew. Cycles. Rhythms. Flow.

My mind is softening into my body, into my heart. What used to seem strange now feels natural and even welcoming.

I am reweaving back into life’s tapestry of worlds, back into layers of the unseen and unknowable, into bedrock and sandstone, moon and stars, and glacial changes beyond what I can possibly comprehend.

One of my favorite Beatle’s songs was ‘Let It Be’, and the lyrics have been rumbling around inside. Just let it all be as it is – because all of my pushing against isn’t really doing anything anyway.

I see that now.

I am softening, tenderizing, choosing to no longer live a life of trying to understand. And in this softening, I notice I am happier, and at the same time getting more accomplished while being more available for others.

I guess that is life. When I let it be, life can do what it longs to do through me.

Of course.

I am learning.

::

in a woman’s body

i slide one foot in and then the other
and slowly my whole body gives way to gravity.
like a mother cat’s tongue
the water begins to clean
lifetimes of forgetfulness from my being.
my breath slows as darkness crumbles onto the blue-tiled floor.
my eyes grow soft as
years of tears and fears melt under the dark night sky.
i begin to remember how
without skin,
without flesh and bones,
i lived as light.
my cells soak in this remembering and
i soften, yet again,
into the water’s embrace.
no more rigid ways of forcing myself
to remember what i’ve always known.
no more straight-backed hours
on a cushion,
tightly-fastened rules wrapped around my flesh.
i am this soft light,
this love that knows,
this pearlescent radiance in a woman’s body.

#writingraw

(c) 2015 julie m daley

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A Vivid Life. A Creative Life.

by Julie on February 26, 2015 · 1 comment

moonandclouds

 

A Vivid Life. A Creative Life.


“Don’t scorn your life just because it’s not dramatic, or it’s impoverished, or it looks dull, or it’s workaday. Don’t scorn it. It is where poetry is taking place if you’ve got the sensitivity to see it, if your eyes are open.” ~ Philip Levine (1928-2015)

 

Yesterday, just before sitting down to prepare my monthly newsletter, I made a great chicken, kale, and bok choy curry for lunch. As I was thinking about what to share in my newsletter, the colors of the curry stood out at me as truly beautiful. I was so aware of the colors and how the vibrant greens reflected the intense nutrition of the food. I was aware of the mix of flavors, of savoring my food, truly savoring it as I ate. And, then my mind went to how beautiful life is when we are sensitive to the richness of vivid experiences felt in the heart.

In the courses I teach on Creativity, I often do an exercise during the third week when I teach about how to observe life keenly. In the exercise, we use all of our senses, slowing each one down, to truly taste – usually chocolate. Each time I lead the class, this very simple exercise brings forth a sensitivity to see, feel, and taste life. In our world, with everything going so fast, and so much time spent with technology, to stop and take time to feel your life is often a gift we rush past, a gift we do not give ourselves (and often) nor our children.

As Philip Levine wrote so beautifully, our lives are where poetry is taking place IF we have the eyes to see it, the ears to hear it, and the sensitivity to really touch what is happening. Somehow, somewhere, someone decided the everyday qualities of earthly existence were non-important and that instead we should focus on the spiritual. But, there is no separation between matter and the sacred.

Everything here is alive, and it is that very aliveness that is the sacred.

For me, as long as I’ve looked for something to be better, to find something better, to hope for days when things would be a certain way, I’ve continued to miss the beauty right in front of my face. It is only here, right here, where we can know what it is to be truly alive, to know the poetry that is taking place before our eyes.

As if to punctuate this vividness for me, as I took a break from working on my newsletter, I stood up and looked outside and the most amazing sunset was breaking over San Francisco. I grabbed my phone, went down to the porch of the building I live in and walked into this magnificent sight – the moon appearing, surrounded by billowing pink clouds. It took my breath away.

It was poetry in the sky.

In April, I’m going to be a grandmother for the FIFTH time. I can always count on my grandchildren to bring me present to this vivid life. Every. Single. Time. They are so real. They remind me to stop, listen, and pay attention.

Take a look around you. Really look, listen, touch, feel. Everything you can encounter is alive with radiance. Pay beautiful attention to this world as if you were a child again. Imagine you’ve just landed on earth for the very first time. Sit down to a meal and use all of your senses as you eat each bite. Notice that you are taking in nourishment. Note that the food came out of the earth so that your body can continue to function. Notice if in doing so, you come more deeply into relationship with life.

This relationship with life is the same relationship you have to your creativity. Our capacity to take in life, to receive what life is offering, is the same capacity we have to bring forth our creativity. And it requires us to pay attention to what is here, to what is being offered and shown to us.

Life is reflecting your countenance back to you. What you see is the radiance you are. 

 

 

WritingRawPinSpring01The Spring Writing Raw circle begins on March 4th, and March 5th. Each week, for six weeks, we hold two calls, one on Wednesdays at 9:00 am PT and the second on Thursdays at 5:00 pm PT.

Here, in the circle, we listen for the poetry of life to express itself through us. We each go into our own inner temple and listen for the voice that has always been here, always waiting to be known.

We listen, we write, and we read.

A beautiful circle of women is gathering. If you feel the pull to join, please do. Writing Raw is a deeply transformational process. Writing Raw can wake you up to your own soul and what your soul is asking of you. Writing Raw offers the opportunity to know yourself, as you are, with acceptance and love.

Read more and register here.

 

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Magic

by Julie on February 16, 2015 · 2 comments

orchid

 

 

I see her.

Her left hand out reaching toward me, beckoning me to come with her. Her body is leaning the other way, to her left, showing me the way we will go. I haven’t seen her face for ages.

Eleven. Fifty-eight. Ages.

 

She is alive. Her eyes dance.

She wants to take me back into her innocent world; back into the world I learned to pretend doesn’t exist. But it does. She knows the way. Her body is leaning that way as if to say, “Come, come, let’s go. It’s just you and me. Nobody else is here, now, telling us to be something other than who we are. Nobody is here demanding that we turn our back on magic and step into that cold, dead world where everyone says things they don’t believe and everyone denies they long for something else.”

I left her behind. Not meaning to, really. But, I left her behind. So far behind I’d forgotten who she was. I couldn’t even really remember how it was to be with her, how she laughed or how she would get silly. I couldn’t remember how strong and lithe she was, how in her body she was.

She’s smiling at me with such innocence, such joy. I can tell she hasn’t changed a bit. It’s the smile.

I now remember the exact moment when I turned my back on her. I had to. I had no choice. It’s the only way I could make sense of the senselessness I was being shown. Everywhere I looked there were messages telling me that she had to be forgotten, pushed aside, abandoned. No one wants an eleven year-old pubescent girl to maintain her wholeness. It’s too much. Her wholeness and innocence and provocative ways signal magic.

 

I take her hand and follow.

She wants to show me butterflies. We used to go out to find them, hoping to have one land on our hand. They were free. They were soft and tender, their wings made of the same magic as her heart.

When I first saw her again, really saw her, and heard her calling to me, the tears poured like buckets. Grief. Big buckets of grief. I’ve experienced big grief in my life; grief I never thought I would ever know. But there’s something about realizing you abandoned yourself so long ago, ages ago that cuts to the bone at the center of the heart. That bone. That magic bone.

All I remember is that I was told that my needs were no longer relevant. Those were never the words used, of course. Instead, every indication was that I was here for something other than my own desires. I was here for others’ desires…especially men’s.

Instead of freedom, I began to feel emptiness. Instead of softness, I began to feel a kind of resignation. Instead of feeling me, I began to be really good at feeling everyone else – looking for what they needed, what would make them happy, how to put myself at the back. It sounds like martyr. It looks that way. But it was not. It was believing that my desires didn’t matter. It was believing that I didn’t matter. That suddenly, now, that I was growing up, that the magic in me had to go and the beauty and power of my young girl’s magical soul was not welcome in this world of men and men’s power, and this world of women who had forgotten their own magic.

Or maybe my magic was wanted too much. If I hid it, would they not look at me like they were beginning to look at me? I hid the magic just like I hid my blossoming breasts. The lacy yellow training bra earned the name ‘old yeller’ because I was too embarrassed to wash it and hang it out in the house to dry. In our house of one woman and three girls, a girl’s magic wasn’t spoken of. Menses, breasts, and blossoming desire were only talked about in cursory, logical ways.

 

No magic was mentioned.

There was no map pointing the way from young magical girl to full magical woman. There was no talking about it. There was nothing said between young magical girl and magical woman. And there were no full, magical women to guide me.

How does a girl hang onto the magic of womanhood when so many around her pretend it does not exist?

How does she hold her own hand tightly enough to not lose herself or her magic?

How does she hold her own body close to her heart as she awakens to the shame that others believe is at the heart of womanhood?

How does she not make that shame her own?

How could it be that something so holy, sacred, and brimming with the magic of life becomes something to hide, to ridicule, to dominate, to violate?

I find I have no answers, but I am paying attention to her because she knows things I have forgotten.

 

Her hand is soft and young, still in the shape it was when I turned away.

She’s timeless. Hand in hand, I begin to feel the sweetness of her breath filling my lungs and sense the wonder of her magic beating my heart. I tell her I learned a long time ago to dismiss myself, to defer to others, to hide my light, to make myself small and insignificant. As I say these words, I hear how powerless they sound, how weak I sound. I cringe, yet they are true. She just listens as she holds my hand.

I tell her I don’t know what I want, what I desire. I tell her I’ve forgotten how to desire, how to know, how to choose. I tell her I’ve forgotten how to choose for us, to know what it is I want and to focus on it. She already knows this. She’s been in the background watching me circle and circle, unable to land on the solid turf of completion. She looks at me with such lightness and love. And then she tells me that is why she’s come back – to show me the way home, the way back to magic.

It seems as though she doesn’t hear those other voices that run so often in my head, voices of skepticism, judgment, and shame. She seems to just delight in life itself, in the very real experience of being alive. She is soft and open. The thing I notice most, though, is that she trusts. She trusts herself. And she trusts life. She doesn’t seem to even be aware of this. She doesn’t need to be. Trust was never broken for her. Her connection to life is intact, full, and faithful, as is her connection to herself. She doesn’t seem to be so aware of herself, but instead very aware of everything around her, as if she is immediately affected and enraptured by the smallest butterfly flutter and the gentlest birdsong.

 

As I watch her,

I begin to feel a tiny bit of what it felt like when I knew this world. She is guiding me back home just by her presence and love. I feel great sorrow and grief for what I did, but she doesn’t. She is just happy to have me home again, with her in the magic.

She leads me to a place where lightness abounds, joy flourishes, and softness is evident everywhere. Everything is vibrantly alive. As I look around, I can see the light that infuses breath. Everything is breathing. Everything. Trees. Sky. Earth. Sun. Everything is breathing.

She looks at me with impish delight and asks,

“Do you remember? We used to live here, in this world, together. And, here we are again, together.”

 

 

::

Writing Raw is now open for the third circle, beginning on March 4th. Early-bird is in effect through February 18th.

 

 “i feel so strongly that what you have created in writing raw has this potent link of turning us – leading us – inviting each of us into our own selves. not calling it anything but ourselves, words hinting here and there of naming, but to be ourselves and have faith in that is a great great great gift that is given in that circle.” ~ Barbara Heile, woman painter writer mother
www.heileart.com

 

Read more and register here.

 

 

 

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caressedbyinvisiblegrace

caressed by invisible grace

this caress
unseen hands
tender fingertips
that spread across the sky
spread across my face
touch me
like nothing else has
ever
in existence
my face open to the light
my soles on forest floor
this miracle
shines brightly
freedom
connection
so deep in my clay
down where fossils
cease to decay.

::

For as long as I can remember,

I have loved soft warm wind blowing against my face. I never ‘knew’ why, although I used to try to understand. Funny things we do.

The most profound experience I’ve had of this was in Hana, on Maui. There, the air is moist, always moist, and filled with scents. And, it is warm there. It doesn’t get cold in Hana, really.

There, I feel the wild more acutely in my cells, the wild of the land a mirror to the wild of the terrain of my body. 

The soul’s secrets rise to be known on land that isn’t covered over by thought divorced from flesh (concrete one of the literal expressions of this broken marriage). Raw earth offers itself to my raw soul, inviting soul forth into flesh to be touched, felt, and seen. And the conscious mind, for at least a moment, meets soul in this intimacy.

The body is soul’s physical expression. This human body is how soul makes itself known on earth, in flesh. The soul’s longing to experience and be experienced comes through as our longing to see, touch, and feel, and be seen, touched, and felt.

This is the creative impulse to live and to express our sacred uniqueness into flesh and blood and bone – of body and of other physical creation. This is an impulse for life, an appetite to know through experience, through feeling and senses.

Oh, and to think how we deny our appetite for life. Consider how much effort it must take to deny this deep impulse of life, to grow into our fullest expression, to offer it into the world so it can be known.

There is nothing wrong with our appetite, nothing wrong with our desire, nothing wrong with our flesh. There is everything right with creation.

 

“The body is a sacrament. … A sacrament is a visible sign of invisible grace.” 

“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

 

Your body, my body, every body, is the physical manifestation of soul, a physical manifestation of grace.

Invisible grace – like wind. This is what I feel as I am caressed by wind – caressed by invisible grace.

The soul is deeply affected by body and what our body experiences. Earth touched, wind felt, fragrance inhaled, all leave an imprint on soul. I now understand why the different lands I have traveled to, and walked upon, affected me so deeply. My soul took it all in, and my willingness to go, even when I did not understand why, was how this body, this body/mind, walked what she needed to walk for soul to live the experiences soul was hungering for – that outer mirror.

I now have a sense of why I love warm wind against my face. It is not really for me to ‘understand’. It is more that I have the capacity to choose to have those experiences that feed my soul, that feed her appetite for life.

This is life’s grand radiance: this invisible grace making itself known in physical form, and then our physical forms, our bodies, offering back the gifts of this human, everyday, life, to soul.

When every cell of the body is awake with invisible grace, awash with love, alert with awareness, consider how much more fleshy real estate is available for this sacred interchange between flesh and soul, this experience of being alive. Instead of just understanding what it might be like as an idea,

we become fully aflame with life’s grand radiance…a living, breathing, loving vessel of liquid soul.

::

This poem, above, was written during a Writing Raw circle call. They are powerful, potent circles where soul-knowing can pour forth. Join me for the Spring, 2015, Writing Raw circle…now open for registration. We begin the first week of March.

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A Touch of Soul, Here, on My Breath.

by Julie on January 21, 2015 · 12 comments

 

reteachathingitslovelinessrosenoquote
“…for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness…”
Galway Kinnell
::

Witnessing my own unfolding

In looking back over the writing I’ve shared here over the past seven years, I see my own unfolding. Along the way, I’ve shared my experiences rather than using this as a platform to offer you ‘useful’ advice on ‘how-to’ or ‘how-not-to’. I’ve shared stories and insights. I’ve shared some of the most vulnerable moments of my journey. I can’t say that was my intention when I began. But, then how often do we know ahead of time what it is that is driving us? In the past few weeks, the unfolding has hastened. Things falling away left and right. Like a dog with a bone, I’ve followed every kernel of grace offered out to me. I cannot tell you ‘what’ it is that has happened, but I finally feel at home.

That is no small thing considering it’s been almost twenty years since I set out to find home. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt at home in this world, but I managed to avoid feeling the deeper feelings of not belonging and not being safe while married to my late-husband – until the early-morning hour when he died, suddenly. That’s when the journey began in earnest.

It was then, almost twenty years ago, that however my psyche had organized itself to help navigate the feeling of being unsafe here on earth, could no longer find a footing. In a matter of minutes after he died, I felt completely unmoored. He had been my love, my protector, my partner of 21 years.

It’s been a long journey to follow longing. A journey to find safety, not through another human being, but within myself. I didn’t know that was what I was looking for. Ultimately, it was really the journey to find love, the love that can only be found deep within oneself.

The push to get somewhere or something has been relentless. I could never settle. I could never feel like what was in my life was ‘enough’. All the while, I wouldn’t have been able to articulate to you these things. I know them now, in hindsight.

There is something new here.

A kind of softness, a trust, a faith in life.

A taste of earth, here, in my flesh.

A touch of Soul, here, on my breath.

 

Life guided me.

Life does this if we listen. Books fell unbidden from bookcases, guiding me to dance. People appeared as guides. Flowers called to me with their beauty, reflecting to me the light and beauty that is the soul of everything alive. And, my relationship came to an end when it was clear I had to find out who I am on my own – sovereign and whole.

The land called to me from different parts of our planet. I had to step foot on other parts of this earth to feel something that could only be felt there, in each place, to reawaken elements of earth that I’d tasted long before.

Nature called. Each day, I walk. Almost first thing in the morning, after tea. I hear birdsong. I feel wind. I take in the love of trees, offering it back to them with great appreciation. I have come to feel an unseen, but incredibly vibrant, relationship with life. I’ve come to know I belong.

John O’Donohue‘s words capture this feeling much more eloquently than I can.

“Essentially, we belong beautifully to nature. The body knows this belonging and desires it. It does not exile us either spiritually or emotionally. The human body is at home on the earth. It is probably a splinter in the mind that is the sore root of so much of our exile.”

I feel at home in my body. 

Another way to say this, is that my mind now trusts how my body feels at home. My mind trusts my body’s longing to be home. To not be held away, distant from itself, for my body is of the earth’s body. It is of the same clay.

This might surprise some of you who’ve read me for a while. It’s not like I haven’t been in my body. It’s not like I haven’t felt joy in my body. I have – often and much.

But that ‘splinter in the mind’ was always here. The splinter continued to tell me I wasn’t safe. It created a kind of vigilance, a hyper-vigilance. This kind of thinking, the circular questioning and the constant looking for safety, kept at bay what it was I was looking for. Of course it did. I was looking for love, but this small but insistent voice didn’t trust love.

As I read more of John O’Donohue’s words for the second time (I first read Anam Cara about eight years ago), in preparation for my writing course, I came across his description of how the body is in the soul, not the other way around. He writes,

“Your body is in the soul, and the soul suffuses you completely. Therefore, all around you there is a secret and beautiful soul-light.”

And, if the body is in the soul, then my body is held, and loved, and breathed into by Soul. My immediate breath is Soul breath. My senses first encounter the realm of my Soul. It is so close. Always.

This is what I had longed for – to know that love is this close. Complete and unconditional love, which Soul has for self. I had shut myself off to my own Soul, and I had to see that.

 

Necessary to reteach me of my loveliness.

As most of us do because we are taught to, I journeyed to find what I’d thought I lost out there somewhere. God is supposed to be up there, on high, somewhere. Right? And, I am supposed to find love in someone else to complete me. Right?

No. Soul is closer than my breath. Soul is closer than sound, taste, sight, touch. Soul is wrapping me in love. I turned away from Soul. I had to turn back to self to know Soul.

Splintering happens. For me, the splinter broke free when that portion of the mind could feel that it was held, and that what held it was safe. I watched it circle. I watched it look and question and wonder. I watched as it let go. I felt the softening in myself. I couldn’t make it let go, but I could hold the space for it to do it as it needed to. I could trust that it would set itself free.

And, one last thing…for now. I’ve written in the past of the ‘creative impulse’…of the beautiful desire that moves through us as human beings to express in this world of form. In my next post, I’ll write more about Soul, your body, and creativity.

 

For now, just know that God(dess) is decidedly sensuous. 

 

 

 

 

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