Monthly Archive for April, 2012

oh hope!

it’s my last day on the big island of Hawaii…already! it’s been an incredible month and a half on the volcano, and so much has moved up and through and down and deep in me.

I have written so much in the last month, things i never thought i could articulate, and things i didn’t know til I wrote them. I came up with a pathway forward that I believe will really transform the world, and I wrote a project proposal to see if I can get support to do it. I feel the love and support of so many people around me, blessing any path I choose.

and i feel more healed every day.

and I am ready for the next step of my journey. three weeks straight to just write every day.

to close out my time here and generally off the mainland, I am getting a tattoo – pictures will come soon. :-)

average sabbatical day in kona

for the vicarious ones:

5:30-6:30 am: wake up naturally as light comes into the sky and birds get louder. lay in bed with eyes closed, reflecting on what dreams I can remember. smile that this is as late as my body wanted to sleep, again. I have learned I am a morning person for sure.

6:30-8:30 am: stretch, say morning mantras (i am powerful, centered, grounded, safe). drink as much water as I can. go brush teeth and do bathroom stuff, get back in bed and read til I’m hungry. make myself a big breakfast – some combination of eggs, black beans, lean sausage or smoked salmon, green onions, goat cheese, kale. (that’s when I am in places where I can make breakfast. at kalani it was oats, eggs and fruit. in Mexico it was eggs and tortillas.)

8:30-10 am: yoga. either a class (here in kona I’ve been going to an ocean front park for an outdoor class on wednesdays) or listening to my yoga recordings where i guide myself through the perfect yoga session for me. I’m about to rerecord them with all of the edits and adjustments, and possibly with all bob marley music underneath.

the yoga sessions with these recordings have been some of my best ever. I am moving to a new and better space with yoga, where it isn’t total torture, where I find rest and myself in some of the poses. I still curse a lot in my mind while doing classes, but with more of a sense of humor.

10 am-6pm: going to a new or familiar beach, reading, contemplating my future, reflecting on my past, singing, having sweeping explosions of emotion, writing, writing, writing, a dash of social media. seeing new friends so we can beach and snorkel together.

lunch happens in here – quinoa salad, or broccoli and sausage, or green salad with tofu, or a bunless free range local beef burger, etc. also, snacks like seaweed, cucumbers with edamame hummus, a square of dark chocolate.

I notice that amazing conversations seem to happen in the afternoon, laying on the beach.

6pm-7pm: figuring out where to watch the sunset, and watching it.

7pm: dinner time, prepping whatever is in the fridge that I didn’t have for lunch. (tonight i think i’ll make a bunless burger with sheep’s milk feta, grated beets and kalamata olives and a salad.) then reading, or watching something on Netflix, or writing, or all three.

reading always wins by the end.

8pm-11pm: making myself stop reading whatever book I am immersed in, putting all electronics out of the bedroom, doing shivasana (corpse pose) with knees elevated in bed until I feel calm and clear. reflect on the synergies and miracles and lessons of the day and smile.

then sleep deeply, getting to the work of my dreamworlds.

beginning the descent

it has occurred to me lately that I have begun the descent part of my journey. my goal was to fling myself as far from my life as I could imagine, quiet the din, hear myself.

and then come home. as ursula le guin expressed through her novel ‘the dispossessed’, the only physical book I started this journey with, “true journey is return”.

i have flown so high and far and wide. i have seen so many things, learned and remembered so many true things about myself and my callings, about the world outside my world.

i was trying to think of when along my journey I was the furthest from home.

was it on the ferry in the mediterranean, surrounded by men speaking quiet arabic and smoking all variety of tobacco as I tried to get my first sight of northern Africa at night from the deck?

or that night in costa rica, singing through my fear at the top of my lungs on a dirt road with no idea where I was or how to get to any other place except go forward?

or one of the nights I walked home through the jungle here in hawaii, surrounded by the sound chaos of frogs and pigs and the expectation of otherworldly night marchers – also singing myself through?

or maybe not a physical place, but the spiritual clarity I experienced meditating alone, or the fire in the road man’s eyes when he said I was blessed, or the time travel through my own story I experienced after self-ritual in tulum…

and now there begins to be an imaginable landing back home, changed and filled up with time and rest and new dreams and crossed horizons.

how do I get home from this – what does home mean to me now?

I only know what I have yearned for, and felt pulled by. thinking of my niece and nephew has doubled me over, I want to look in their eyes so much. I yearn for my family, altogether, laughing and healthy. yesterday I found myself weeping wildly at a traffic light, missing my grandfather and thinking I need to go see my grandmother and take her the recordings I have of his voice, which overwhelm me to listen to. and I yearn for detroit, her summertime flair, boating on the river and watching the sun move down her length. I yearn for these places, they are each home for me.

and then there is the political home, how do I bring back this restored self into the work? who will hire me to do the healing work I am called to do at the individual and organizational level?

I want to only work with folks who are serious about ‘transform yourself to transform the world,’ as it feels like the only path I can see and serve. I can’t be part of low-integrity/urgent/unintentional work and survive, even though i am still learning how to do things with integrity, patience and intention.

will folks be interested in learning with me?

there is so much I feel and so little I know…I feel I have ways to support others to achieve absolute liberation through their own self-transformation. I feel I have a particular role to play, small slow and steady, in the biggest picture.

there is a sign on the road that crawls between the mountain and the sea over here, it says, ‘don’t think, pray’. there is a time I would have prayed, saying to god/dess, show me the answers, the way forward. at this moment, I feel like my life is all a prayer and I am seeing answers everywhere.

and I am experiencing full happiness, the kind that only comes from radically accepting what is, and then acting from that place of acceptance, with gratitude. now I feel like my prayer is: little spark of divinity, great existence, let me feel the places where all of me is truly needed, where what I am capable of is precisely what is necessary for…(I almost said survival)…for evolution.

if suffering is the human condition currently – and from what I have seen, it is the majority physical condition on this planet – then I want an evolution in our condition. I want healing to be the human condition. not to be healed. i don’t want to give up the complex experience of life.

and it can’t be someone else fixing you.

the evolution i long for is in our perception of our power in the world, and how that perception shapes the world we have. i want to see healing, and happiness too, these should be the human condition, the primary experience of all humans. i want to see humans (particularly humans who want to change the world), when life is hard, looking for the opportunities and lessons, being vulnerable as a form of leadership through the learning. and when life is easy, holding humility and detachment, falling back into the flock until its time again to bear the brunt of the wind as we all fly into the unknown but viscerally felt future.

so.

coming back deep into the soil, i now have the next month to journey home, to figure out how to articulate my yearning and my calling and these visions in all of my actions. i want my own commitment to happiness and healing to go beyond the ecstatic rantings of someone who hasn’t worked for five months. :-) i want this rootedness to become normal.

the dream for my life involves healing, evolution through relationship, singing, and bringing doula energy to everything i do – yes, open, wait, push, wow, you are miraculous, and so are you, repeat.

so with that in mind, I’m just going to doula myself, nurture and encourage and be patient with each step.

there’s only one way. forward. same as always, and utterly new.

hard work

(accidentally published the unfinished take on this one. i added other thoughts)

last year I was watching my niece and nephew playing. he, Finn, was banging one toy with another one. when she, Siobhan, came over and tried to bang with him, he stopped and turned to her.

‘no Siobhan, this is my hard work. you need to go find your own hard work.’

this exchange has stuck with me so much, these months on the road. it’s easy for me to attend to and support the hard work of others, but every fiber of my being has been shouting that nephew wisdom to me – ‘you have your own hard work!’

and I am in it.

I’ve been on the road since January. at first I was in ‘hurry its a vacation’ mode, doing a lot, moving quickly, maintaining contact with a lot of people and feeling driven.

then I moved into, ‘transformative trip’ mode…I need to fix my self and heal everything and come home perfect and with all the answers.

recently I have shifted into, ‘gratitude’ mode.

gratitude for my friends, for those who envisioned and supported this trip, for my amazing family, for the places I work that gave me this time, for the wisdom flowing through me that has come from just listening to myself and each person and place I encounter, for the ocean and mountains and volcanoes and night skies and yoga and the writing and the new friends, and the remaining month and a half of time I have to reflect, and most of all: for the space to practice gratitude and perspective shift for the life I already have and the things I already know.

my hard work is believing I deserve all the gifts and love and blessings bestowed upon me; balancing my gifts and my insignificance in the same hands. it’s walking the labyrinths on my arm and in my head and heart, knowing each familiar new twist is the only way home.

its accepting that I will not know the future and I will misinterpret the past – my hard work is being present.

and then finding the wonder available in that moment, the whole of life, universe and existence in each little moment. feeling whole myself, and of the world. I am not separate from the things that awe me or break my heart – I am awe striking and heart breaking and learning. again, and again, and again.

I remember the absolute purpose and joy on Finn’s face, shiva boy destroying one toy with another, giving the task everything he had. he gave his all to his hard work, and when he was done, he let it go and moved onto the next piece of hard work – playing baseball in a basement in a Minnesota winter.

this is what I am learning to do: attend to this hard work: loving my body and my self. bringing my shiva self to work on the societal norms and sexual trauma that have made that so hard for me. giving my all to that until my shakti self can absorb it all into the whole, reform and rebirth that experience and energy into wisdom and creation. and then letting go, attending to the next hard work: being vulnerable.

each kind of hard work has a stance, a way. Finns way is to smash things with his love, curiosity and vision. Siobhan’s way is to observe, demand, risk and evolve.

my way, right now, is radical gratitude, which shows up in my self-love work, my vulnerability work, my every communication with all the people I love.

my current mantra was given to me from a 70-year-old yogi last week: shanti, shanti, shanti.

moon time

the full moon is up outside my window now, and I’m feeling good and ritualistic.

I learned a full moon bath recipe a while ago (was it only a year? time slides when you’re being present).

tonight I am doing the ‘best full moon bath I can’ with a compostable cup, lavender essential oil, bits of four corners region sage, and rainwater. its sitting under the moon in hearing range of the sounds of ocean waves, because water – even a little compostable cupfull – responds to music. tomorrow I’ll start the day using it.

the labyrinth on this land was completed this week, and I was going to go walk it, but by the time the clouds let me see moon, I had no one to go with me through the jungle for the walk. I’ll do it tomorrow in daylight – i know moon is still there :-).

the other part of my little ritual is that I’m going to spontaneously write and share something here and now on top of usual blog writing, maybe a poem or song.

here:

tonight
pele, yemaya, hina
all flow thighward in me
dressed in blood and fire

a twist of heat,
and the creative essence
outshines
venules to pores
a light landing and leaping away

hanging upside down
in this all-consuming space
i’m wondering if she still feels me
calling,
if I move her

she used to throw herself on rocks for me

she told me that only my light
could pull her to breaking,
bursting canyon-wide
lifting up in cumulus skirts
storming a fury onto land

but this pattern now so set
in out in,
dark light dark
always changing the same way
I can almost forget
it is miraculous

almost

til I see her
endless, allness,
dancing a million patterns
under the full blaze of my love

and
freed utterly from her shadow
i’m able to let her see
my whole face

and of course I beam,
and of course she roars,
and just so,
we begin a new path
back into the dark.

****

:-)

visual from my yard is the moon completely full over an equally full ocean which seems to catch and throw back the light with every movement. the moon/ocean relationship is one of my favorite ever.

I like stepping into, and anthropomorphizing, nature (perhaps its a flaw). it’s the children’s book writer part of my brain. being the moon tonight in poetry, a full moon, felt lovely and very true to write from.

on my journey I feel very much in a place of seeing and accepting my patterns, my needs, my work to be done…but accepting from a place of fullness and wholeness instead of exhaustion and dismay.

for instance #1 – yes I love to do many things, I’m not going to settle onto one path. and this is not chaos, it’s answering all my callings. for instance #2 – yes, I see this is my body and I honor and love on it and take intentional steps every day to gift this body with health and attention.

I am not discovering a new person on this trip, or becoming a new person. rather, I am letting the light shine on all of me, a full moon. more than a full moon. I’m in a 360 degree moon phase with creative life force energy shining on me from every-single-where.

life is full of the shadows wherein we gather our wisdoms, but we need regular experiences of being wholly lit up, within and without, to remember its all already there, whether we see it or not. like moon, our whole selves are moving through the patterns of light and dark, solid and in orbit, regardless of what is visible to us or to others.

it’s a comforting way to experience my healing.

hope you get your shine on :-)

how to build a labyrinth

as some of you know, I have a labyrinth tattooed on my arm.

I trace it with my finger every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I love it, and I love everything I have learned about labyrinths before and since I got this tattoo. so of course I was thrilled to learn that there was a labyrinth here at kalani, made of lava rock, and that as part of my 8 days of agriculture work as a sabbatical volunteer, I would get to work on it.

why work on a labyrinth? well this one was totally overgrown and the wild pigs here have pushed the rocks every which way.

this week, that work happened. and yesterday was probably the hardest work day I’ve had here, because I cared about how it was done. I considered actually not working on it, because I knew I would get involved and it might disrupt my calm detached sabbatical self…but it was actually incredible to move through it, trying to show up in new ways.

in my experience and reading, labyrinths are built from the center, with blessings, slowly and with deep sacred intention.

for our effort, we had piles of rocks, 10 people, weeded space and rope, measuring poles, a set of instructions, lava rocks, weed trees, opinions, human feet, rolled eyes, gloved and ungloved hands, buckets, male brilliance and female brilliance…

when we discussed doing it, the suggestion came up to lay it out with flowers first, get the shape just right, from the center outwards, then finalize it with rocks. when we came to the layout part there were some rocks already laid out and we were told to connect the rocks with more rocks, each starting at a different part of the labyrinth.

confusion soon ensued, as well as resistance that we weren’t doing it as labyrinths are traditionally done.

our leader, who had built the original labyrinth in this space, had laid out these major points for us. and it probably would have eventually worked his way, but since he had us starting from the outside, several of us (all women) couldn’t comprehend it. he said lets just get the rocks out and adjust later, maybe leave a dead space on one side, make sure its wide enough to mow – all logical things.

but he was surrounded by empowered sacred feminine energy.

so we asked to approach it our way, build it from center. we took hours to figure it out, guided by the diagrams and a sense inside of when it was right or not. we committed to starting in the heart of it and rolling outwards as we’d all been taught in other places.

our leader, a very sweet and intelligent manly man, would occasionally jump in to show how what we were doing was exactly what he had already figured out, or start moving rocks around in impatience, but to his credit, he granted us that time and let us get there with fairly little interference or frustration.

in the process, this is what I learned about how to build a labyrinth:

1. you cannot discuss the labyrinth…unless you have agreed upon terms. ‘can that point there go around the switchback into the middle piece over here?’ is not necessarily a coherent sentence, even while pointing, and even while sometimes standing on top of each part and leaping about (unless you have agreed about what those terms mean).

2. you have to walk the labyrinth several times to know it is whole and right. sometimes you have to walk it as a group, sometimes you have to walk it on your own.
sometimes you have to walk it on your own in front of the group. sometimes the group has to walk it without knowing it. walking the labyrinth can and will change your comprehension.

3. almost right is not right enough. do not celebrate, or move the rocks, until it is truly right.

4. lava rocks are heavy to play with…start out with something light to trace the labyrinth, like leaves or flowers or vines or string. we used this invasive weed vine to burst through the mystery of the center of the labyrinth.

5. there are many ways to make a maze, technically – to make a sacred labyrinth, you start from the heart of it and flow outward, with no dead ends or dead spaces, only one path through.

6. being able to acknowledge mistakes and limitations is part of the way forward, even if it seems like doubling back. we had both masculine and feminine mistakes in our process, and the quick ‘a-ha, i see that, i was wrong’ enabled us to keep moving forward on the way to rightness.

7. if you can’t show others what you see, then you can’t get others to build what you see. no matter how right what you see may be. (this happened repeatedly with multiple people in charge until we finally asked the majority of folks to work on other projects til we could get it clear enough on the ground so as to not waste their time and effort piling rocks in wrong places.)

8. there has to be a way in. (it is also the only way out.)

9. masculine and feminine are truly different, and needed, energies. (we would not have completed the labyrinth design without both, although we each thought the other was doing it completely backwards)

10. if you aren’t laughing and relaxing and exploring and kind of lost, you are missing the whole point. journey, not destination, journey.

*****

this learning is how I spent my last day of work here – now I relax for over a week taking classes and getting body work and going on adventures. then I go to kona for two weeks of beaching.

I started the day with a movement workshop that involved just moving my body in ways that felt good. I ended it by jumping in on a swimmer’s boot camp that left me exhausted and elated.

I love sleeping with every part of my body mind and soul feeling well-used and ready for rest.

besos.

unfamous

one thing I have loved about this journey of mine is the way no one knows who I am anywhere I go.

I can sit and sip a coco loco or a joint, walk for miles along a dirt road or coastline, read a book for three hours straight, write 12 poems in a row or sing a new song over and over until I have it melody-memorized, and no one interrupts me.

it’s not like I’m Angelina Pitt-Jolie famous, or even Invincible famous, I’m not implying that at all. but much of the work I have done has created a familiarity imbalance where people I don’t know have a sense of knowing me, and people I barely know feel comfortable approaching me with an expectation of engagement, regardless of what I am doing or how I am feeling.

in the tiny little sphere of my life, I have experienced famousness, and how it pulls off the awesome private blanket of anonymity (I stayed in NYC for 10 years because of that marvelous blanket). I have been encouraged at various points to be known, primarily to raise attention or money for various pieces of work I was doing. even in our movement work there’s fame and competition and shallow recognition, stars and charismatic leaders.

I don’t see myself as a part of all that, which sometimes makes me wonder where my work fits in.

i will say people generally don’t recognize me in a negative way, there are rarely pictures of me posted publicly with headlines or tags implying scandal or disaster. in fact, I am usually presented so glowingly that I feel like a farcical caricature of a hopeful radical, like I am not doing a good enough job of showing people my humanity and struggle.

I feel like the good things I am able to do all come as conduit work, stuff that comes through me, shaping me on the way…not popping up in a patch of my brilliant brain, but flowing up from earth and community through my heart and hands and mouth. I love being a conduit, I love how it feels to let right action flow through me.

it’s not always there, im not always open, im definitely not always on point. sometimes im nursing a pain, needing a good cry, feeling spaced out or confused or just wanting to be alone in my own head and heart.

like anyone does.

and I have noticed how deeply good it feels, on this journey, to be able to do just that.

yesterday I sat in a hot tub and cried, and folks just respectfully let me be. the other day I sat and read a book for a few hours, undisturbed. I’ve had many meals now where I can just watch the sunset or read or get lost in my thoughts. this kind of time, being in the world but still in my own experience, rejuvenates me for loving myself and engaging with others.

I suspect lots of people are like this, but who knows. once you become a something (an activist, a singer, an executive director, a blogger, etc), people forget your wholeness.

I think celebrity, pedestals, familiarity imbalance…these things aren’t good for us. they give us false hierarchies to uphold, feelings of superiority and insecurity to over analyze, egomania and unhealthy appetites for the attention and approval of others.

I think when it goes too far, humans implode. I wonder if there’s a study on the shorter than average life spans of the rich and famous.

I also wonder which part of myself perpetuates my little fame, given how I feel about it. I write because I can’t not write…if I were anonymous would it be as powerful an experience for me, or for you? the majority of people who read and/or subscribe to my blog feel they know me, and with the way i write, you do. i love being felt that way.

we humans want so much to know each other. social media is equalizing some of this need which often plays out as fan-love, but it isn’t balancing fast enough for this slightly well-known sometimes-extroverted social recluse.

this thinking keeps me from doing certain things that I love. I am working on how to manage that, as I am being called so deeply to write more, sing more, expose more; even as I am basking in the spaciousness and freedom of being completely unfamous for the first time in a decade.

the opinions people are forming when they meet me in this journey are not because of any titles or accomplishments or blog posts or interviews of me, but just one-on-one personal authentic communication. and I am showing up fully in ways it’s hard to do when faced with people’s pre-conceived notions, rose-colored or not.

the work seems to be learning: how to constantly be personal and authentic and pedestal-smashing and boundary-setting no matter what others may expect from or project onto me; that I can’t control how people respond to my authenticity, I can only be myself as much and as fully as possible; that some part of me must be served by it or it wouldn’t keep manifesting.

when I’m not prancing around the house singing into my hairbrush, I think of how I could go underground in some way, sharing my thoughts and philosophies and doing my work as part of an ant hill, beehive or flock. not a queen, just a worker with good taste in clothes and art.

because it has been so liberating for my spirit and personality! my god it’s nice to go unrecognized, to be unfamous among amazing people, to be free again to attend to the ever present work of creating my next self and stepping into her.