I am grateful for the cold February morning that wakes me too early, because the quickening light asks for my breath and presence.
I am grateful for the inhalation of the gifts of the directions: I call into myself inspiration, creative action, courage and determination, grounding, community, and connection, guidance and nurturing.
I am grateful for the exhalation of that which I desire to let go of: anxiety, fear, laziness, loneliness, isolation.
I am grateful for possibility. For the vast choices before me. For the ability to surrender to the choice that will lead me to my highest purpose.
I am grateful for the flux and flow of my breath. For the Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo centering and calming me, yet also inciting peaceful action.
I am grateful for the sun dissipating the mist outside.
The sky is a cold winter blue; a few smudged lines of peach cloud linger over the forested hill where the sun will soon rise. A mug of yerba mate sends wisps of steam into the quiet room. No one else is awake yet — my favorite time of day. I light a stick of dragon’s blood incense, watch the smoke curl. Remember, like a sped-up flashback of my life, all the times I’ve lit incense.
I think part of healing and integrating our shadows must be dwelling in nostalgia sometimes. I’ve been remembering so much of my past, and marveling at how many people I’ve been; and yet, how little I’ve changed. Remembering the people I’ve hurt, and who has hurt me. Remembering the people I’ve loved, and who have loved me. Remembering how those two kinds of people have so often been the same.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Kahlil Gibran, ‘On Joy and Sorrow,’ The Prophet
And yet, when I consider this, I am grateful.
Grateful that the world is so full of paradox, grateful that I cannot feel one thing without feeling the other, grateful that life is so full of sorrow and joy, and so often at the same time.
Grateful that it is light that casts shadow, and that shadow is what gives life three-dimensional form.
I am grateful for that which has wounded me, because that which has wounded me has also shown me great ecstasy. Love has torn me apart, and made the way for even more love. Agony and despair has shifted my course, but my course has only shifted towards ever more blessings.
And this, more than anything else, is what gives me hope when I dwell on the past and feel anxious of the future: that no matter what agonies await, they will lead to ecstasies. No matter what pains await, they will lead to blessings.
I am grateful for my Shadow, and for the Shadow of the world. Because it is what makes us real. It is what gives us form. The more we accept, heal, and integrate the Shadow — the more power we hold to dwell again in the natural rhythms of life.
And life is blessing. And life is challenge. And life is blessing.
spotify obsessions: what i’ve had on repeat this week
Xiuhtezcatl ‘s album Break Free. This extraordinary man is the rapper version of Nahko Bear (who I’ve been a fan of for years). If you like music centered on spiritual activism, you’ll love this artist.
Fearless Soul’s playlist Spiritual Workout – Intense Presence EDM Gym Fitness Workout. This playlist alternates between ‘normal’ EDM songs … and Law of Attraction speeches set to EDM music. This playlist is awesome if you want to get a confidence and motivation boost while you do your cardio (or you’re walking to work, which is what I use it for)!
alxrnbrdmusic’s playlist Indie/Indie-Folk Compilation – Winter 2018. This playlist is my go-to for staring out the window at the winter rain and wind while a cup of tea warms my hands.
Yaima. A woman with an incredible voice, super-chill songs, and a message of love and personal growth.
bookworm Obsessions: what I’ve been reading this week.
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. A must-read for every single white person who wants to be an effective and non-patronizing ally for black people, indigenous people, and people of color. I learned so much from this book that I hadn’t been aware of before, such as “tone policing” and “the model minority myth.” This book is fantastic for oppressed demographics to read as well, as Oluo provides a lot of suggestions for them to stand up for and care for themselves in a world that is constantly demanding their emotional labor while at the same time mostly ignoring their needs.
The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford. Personal growth and self-care does nothing if it’s focused solely on ignoring the dark side of life and bathing yourself in glitter bath bombs. This book is an effective and widely acclaimed course that explains in understandable and relatable ways exactly what our Shadows are, why accepting and integrating our Shadows is some of the most important personal growth work we can do, and provides exercises in every chapter for how to do exactly that. If you’re ready for some real progress in your spiritual path, this is the book for you. Be prepared to cry, to laugh, to discover things about yourself you never knew, and to write pages and pages and pages in your journal.
The Brie’s Submission series by Red Phoenix. This is my go-to smut series for when I need something fun instead of serious, but it’s not just a smut series. This series is written by a real submissive, in a real D/S relationship, and serves as a peek into the BDSM and D/S world for people who have only ever experienced vanilla relationships. Phoenix does an extraordinary job with these books — unlike other kinky novels I’ve read, the characters are relatable, with depth and the ability to pull at my heartstrings. The plot is interesting and fun and, at times, heartbreaking.
film obsessions: what I’ve been watching this week.
Netflix stand-up comedy. Iliza’s Elder Millenial got me laughing tears, and Trevor Noah delivers a show that is both hilarious and thought-provoking.
The Guernsy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix. This movie is both heart-breaking and feel-good.
The CW’s reimagining of Charmed. This new version of Charmed has had mixed reviews, due to its radical differences from the original; however, being the sort of person who likes to watch movies and shows for themselves rather than comparing them to their “originals,” I rather like it. I love that they’ve woven many widely-talked-about modern issues into the new series, including LGBTQ+ issues and #metoo-era subjects like consent and prominent men outed as sexual predators. The fact that the Charmed Ones are women of color is the icing on the cake. My only complaint thus far is that their whitelighter acts much as their authority figure, rather than as a guide; his patronizing quality right from the get-go has gotten on my nerves. Something I loved about the original was how independent and self-sufficient the Charmed Ones were — much of their challenges and strengths were borne out of having to figure it all out themselves (for the most part).
This is a new weekly series I’ve decided to try out. I hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to posting again soon!
“And in the autumn, when you gather grapes from your vineyard for the winepress, say in your heart,
‘I too am a vineyard, and my grapes shall be gathered for the winepress,
and like new wine my soul shall be kept in eternal vessels.’
And in the winter, when you draw the wine, have in your heart a song for each cup,
and in that song let there be a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.”
Kahlil Gibran, ‘On Eating and Drinking,’ The Prophet
I often don’t feel as though I have anything of interest to anybody else to say. Certainly I have many thoughts, both deep and shallow, thoughtful and focused, hurried and half-formed; I have many feelings, that span from dark and shadowy to light and inspiring. When it comes to writing down such thoughts and feelings, however, I’ve felt recently like I’m a bit in a dry spell; not too long ago, poetry seems to pour from my fingers like honey. Now I drink in poetry from other sources — from Kahlil Gibran, Nayyirah Waheed, Rumi, Mary Oliver . . .
When my heart and my hands can’t seem to work together to produce its own poetry, I steep myself in poets. I let their metaphors sink into me, become part of my breath and sight, taste the wine of the Beloved on my lips.
“Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, ‘Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance.’ For to the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.”
Kahlil Gibran, ‘On Good and Evil,’ The Prophet
I’m a believer in the cyclical nature of life, in the fact that nothing can ever grow and grow and grow without ever resting; even the most invasive and determined plants have a time of year that they go dormant. There is no difference when it comes to our creative and spiritual lives.
There are times when we seem to be unrelenting, generous vessels of creativity and light, like the grapes in the autumn. And there are times when we are the root, sucking at the nourishment of the compost the fallen fruit has become, drinking the wine that the grapes were pressed and fermented into.
There are times when we cannot help but give nourishment to the world.
And there are times when we must receive nourishment.
It is a pity that we’re taught by our Western culture — especially those who are woman-identified or woman-passing — that receiving is shameful. In a linear, capitalistic, ever-growing society, there has been little respect for our innate, natural cyclical inner lives.
But I see that changing.
More and more people are seeing, understanding, and integrating the importance of self-care. Of pause. Of balance in this world of extremes.
And though I am at a time in my life when I am the root, not the fruit, and I am aware of the conditioned shame of that curdling in my stomach in my lowest moments — I am so grateful to be reminded all the time that it’s OK to rest. To draw inward. To know that change and transformation are happening deep in the shadowy realms of my psyche, of my inner world — even if the change isn’t apparent outwardly. And I am so grateful that in knowing that, I can be compassionate not only with myself but with others who are also in the fallow seasons of their lives.
Yesterday, after a very busy day of running back and forth around town going to a business meeting, picking up my last CSA box of the season, and doing laundry, I went to my daughter’s father’s place to dogsit/housesit for him and his partner. On the way, I stopped by the store, and decided to grab a bottle of cider made from nettles (I’m a sucker for anything with nettles in it).
I always thinking drinking is a great idea, until I actually do it.
It’s funny because a lot of people think just one drink once or twice a week is actually a really great example of healthy moderation, and for many people, I think it is that way. However, I’m reminded every time I have one (1) drink that for me, moderation is none at all.
My one drink feels great while I’m drinking it. That nettle cider was tasty, I won’t lie, and the light feeling I got from it was rather nice since I so rarely drink. But then I get to deal with the almost immediate consequences:
Extraordinary difficulty getting and staying asleep. Some people find alcohol helps them sleep. Not for me. Last night, I got a grand total of maybe 2 hours. Why?
Anxiety. Suddenly I’m spending two hours vividly imagining tense conversations that have not happened yet and probably won’t happen. Suddenly I’m remembering scenes from that one scary movie I saw years ago that made me afraid of babysitting for months. Suddenly I’m incredibly worried that every little thing I’ve done wrong in the last several years are going to come back to bite me in the butt all at once, probably in the next few weeks.
Of course, all that anxiety and no sleep means I feel very blue the next day, maybe the day after that as well. I’m questioning my worth. My value. My ability. If I’m not careful, that can make me spiral down into a week-long stormy cloud over my head.
just because something is okay for everyone else, doesn’t mean it needs to be okay for you.
It’s OK if, for you, moderation means pretty much none at all. That’s what I have to remind myself of when I’m thinking of crossing my own boundaries and doing what I know isn’t going to make me feel good (and ends up being a waste of $8.75, to boot).
I also have to remind myself that one bad decision doesn’t make null and void all of my other, better decisions.
In the past week, some good decisions I have made for myself are:
Switching up my daily 2 cups of coffee for 2 cups of yerba mate.
Drastically reducing my bread-and-cheese intake.
Doing 30-45min of yoga, pilates, and hooping every morning.
Staving off my urge to distract myself with sex by choosing instead to work out, call my mom, go to a success seminar, going for a nature walk, read, and write in my journal.
Standing up for a personal boundary in a calm and respectful but clear and firm way.
Letting myself rest when I feel stretched thin.
My one bad decision yesterday to drink a 16.9 fluid ounce bottle of hard cider does not cancel out all the good I’ve done for myself, nor can it stop me from doing good things for myself today.
Because that’s, I think, the biggest part of self-love: self-forgiveness and moving on. If you can forgive yourself for the small mistakes and live a vibrant and integrated life anyway, then just imagine what you can do for yourself and your life when the bigger mistakes happen.
Because they will happen.
But because you have practiced self-forgiveness on a daily basis, you know you’ll be better than okay.
Every morning is a new day. Every moment is a new opportunity to be just 1% better than you were before.
Why do you tell yourself, “I’ll get to it tomorrow,” or, “After I….” ?
Why do you resist what makes you come alive?
I bet you never knew / there’s a universe inside of you
Can I, by Alina Baraz & Galimatias
Are you afraid of stretching yourself? Of growing into the light? Are you afraid that you might feel…ecstatic? Content? Beautiful? Powerful?
Or are you afraid that you don’t deserve it?
That your past makes you unworthy? Incapable?
I have a secret to tell you.
The tallest trees have the deepest roots. The most healthy, flourishing plants have the most complex and intriguing root systems.
Roots dwell in the darkness. They are what enable the plant to reach for the light.
The darkness of your past is compost for your future.
You are more worthy than you realize. Your roots run deep. The rain that pounds overhead is what has been feeding you. The sun is waiting eagerly for you to break your lush shoots through the soil.
You will never be rid of your roots. Your roots will always dwell in the deep, fragrant soil.
Let your roots ground you and accept growth. Accept the discomfort of struggle.
Do it because you crave it. Even if it’s scary. Even if you’re not sure you’re strong enough.
You are. You are.
The world is waiting for you to bloom.
But in the end, it’s all your decision.
are you ready to accept your birthright?
“Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you, and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it–and correct your course along the way.”
It starts today.
I recently went to a success seminar lead by a prominent philanthropist who, eight years ago, was living in a two bedroom apartment with 5 roommates, and couldn’t hold down a minimum wage job. One of my big take-aways from the seminar was this:
Today, whatever it is you long to do, whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish,
try to be just 1% better than you were yesterday.
Just 1%. That’s it.
Do it again tomorrow. Just 1% better.
And the next day.
And the next.
This time next year, you’ll be 365% better.
1% doesn’t sound like much. It may not even look like much.
I am grateful for the way sweat lets my thoughts and anxieties out when all else fails.
I am grateful for public libraries. I am grateful for self-education.
I am so thankful for yerba mate, and I am thankful for being able to laugh at myself yet again–why do I ever think coffee is a better idea when this stuff makes me feel so good?
I am full of gratitude for the slow, soft November dawn.
I am grateful for my daughter’s absolute goofiness and sweetness. I am grateful for her wild, and I am grateful that life has shown me how important wildness is, and I am grateful that I live somewhere that supports my goal of raising her with love for her wildness.
I am so, so thankful for the safety and security I have. For my access to healthful food. For being able to work, so that I can meet my and my daughter’s needs, and have some left over to have fun, and to help others. For this apartment, with roommates that are also best friends, with a park just a couple minutes walk away.
I am so grateful for the friends I have had, have now, and will have. Friends make life less lonely, less scary, more hopeful, more beautiful.
I am so grateful for this body of mine. For my birthing scars and nursing scars and working systems and luscious curves. For my relentless heartbeat and ocean breath.
I am grateful for the coming and the going. For the quickening and the slowing. For the loud and the soft. For the birthing and the dying. The growing and the fallowing. I am grateful for every microcosmic and macrocosmic, internal and external spiraling cycles of this beautiful and terrifying and serendipity-adoring and oh-so-worth-it universe.
Wednesday, November 7th, was the New Moon in Scorpio, and Lunar Samhain — the day when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. Lunar Samhain is just about the best time to cast away the old and bring in the new. It is the Witches New Year (some witches celebrate this on October 31st to coincide with Halloween festivities as well).
For weeks, I had been restless inside.
What I desperately wanted to do (escape to the wildnerness for days on end) wasn’t possible when I don’t have a car, or proper camping equipment, and have the responsibility of working so I could pay rent and meet my daughter’s needs. I felt sad and lost and sluggish. I felt homesick for something hard to name. I felt like I was forgetting something terribly important.
But I’m not the naive girl I once was, who didn’t know what her restlessness meant, and so chased it in places that didn’t quell it but rather, made it worse.
When the wilderness is out of our reach for reasons out of our control, yet we feel we must die if we don’t do something wild and reckless–that is our souls, crying out for us to release the chains that bind us from becoming fully ourselves.
I came home the night of Lunar Samhain, with my daughter in tow. She plunked herself in front of a movie, and I looked about me with that restlessness sparking at my fingertips. What I must do, the root-deep knowledge and need that had been swelling in me for weeks, was unignorable.
knock knock on my roommate/best-friend’s door.
Leaning against the door frame. Looking her in the eye. “I think I’m going to do it.”
It took her only a moment to know what I was talking about. “I’m ready now.”
I arranged a small altar on the bathroom counter. “If I don’t ritualize things, they don’t stick in my mind,” I explained as I lit candles and nag champa.
I sat on the orange plastic bathroom stool.
“You’re sure?” she asked, holding my curling hair in her hand, scissors and electric shaver ready.
Tug. Pull. Bzzzzz.
My hair fell away. Inhale, exhale.
I sacrifice my hair as a symbol of my commitment to myself for the next 366 days.
This is a releasing. This is a humbling. This is a symbol that I belong only to myself.
On Samhain of 2017, I had recently separated from daughter’s father and had just moved into an apartment in the city. I was rebounding with the strength of a hundred rubber bands, and in the days leading up to 2018 Lunar Samhain, I realized that this past year has been a period of emotional detox for me. This year, I have intensely relived the relationship and love traumas and patterns that I have built up over the past decade of my life.
Since I was 14 years old, I have spent an inordinate amount of time either in unhealthy relationships, or pining after men, or lusting after them. I have never truly belonged to myself, despite my insistence in my past writing that self-love and self-exploration was the main focus of my personal life. But I have given my power away, again and again and again, and for what reasons?
I honestly am not sure yet. What I do know is that my mind is incredibly crowded with men, and not in a healthy way. I’ve realized that I don’t see men as whole beings, but rather as people I can project my traumas and patterns on. I do this because I don’t see myself as a whole being. I don’t embody wholeness, so I don’t see romantic or sexual pursuits as whole beings, either. I see them as tools who can distract me from the shadows and light that live inside me.
Every time I am faced with being completely single, my patterns rear up their ugly heads and wordlessly whisper, “If you are not being coveted and loved and lusted after, you are not worthy of being alive.”
It was horrifying to realize this about myself. When did this mindset take control, especially considering the incredible amount of books and people I have surrounded myself with who have inundated me with the value of self-love?
Months ago, I came up with the idea of 366 Days of Solo Sovereignty, but hesitated to go through with it.
A year and a day (similar to the Wiccan spiritual “initiation”/learning period of a year and a day) of being completely single. No romance. No sex. Just….me.
It’s a scary prospect. My mind goes into a panic when I think about it: but but but–what if you meet someone you REALLY like? What if you get lonely? What if you really really really need intimate physical touch? You can’t get that from a vibrator. You know what happens when you’re single for a little while–you get super super depressed. What if…what if…what if…
But my heart gets fluttery. It goes, yes yes yes.
And my spirit takes flight. Yes yes yes!
And my soul settles down, relaxes, smiles. Yes. Yes. Yes.
For the past five days, I’ve experienced the discomfort I expected when I decided to be completely single: I’ve had to hold myself back from calling that cute guy from work who gave me his number. I’ve avoided the irritating-but-great-in-bed card-player I’ve had an affair with the past two months and can’t seem to tell that I’m not interested in him anymore (people-pleasing–another pattern I need to break). I’ve forced myself to stay home and get cozy with myself when I’m feeling restless and lonely, instead of going out to that bar I’ve experienced plenty of men buying me drinks at.
For the past five days, I’ve also been thinking about the many ways I could use all this free time I now have on my days when my daughter is with her father. I’ve been reminding myself that this is a one-day-at-a-time venture. Every day, it’s me making conscious choices that I know are good for me, are going to connect me with myself: this morning I am going to read instead of check social media. This afternoon I’m going to write/draw/paint/clean/hunt for a job that doesn’t have me in front of a screen all day. Tonight I’m going to watch a thought-provoking movie/hoopdance/meditate/light candles and read/make soup.
Because that’s the point of these next 361 days. Learning what my life is like when it’s me I’m seducing, not someone else. Learning what my life is like when I’m centered in my own power and channeling it into my passions and my home. Learning who I really am when I’m not putting all my energy into being who I think my romantic/sexual interests want me to be.
Maybe this doesn’t sound like a difficult journey for some. But it is for me. Which is why I’m so thankful to have a circle of friends who are willing to hold space for me. Like last night–no light but candlelight, and us around an altar we created together, breathing, crying, laughing, speaking of what we’re releasing, and speaking of what we’re bringing in. Intentional, conscious togetherness.
I want my whole life to be an embodiment of intentional, conscious togetherness. I want to be a whole person. I want to see everyone I come in contact with as a whole person. I want to be the sort of person who holds space.