2019 focus word.

Every year, I choose a focus word to set my intention for the year. That focus word ends up becoming a theme for the following twelve months; it shapes my experiences and acts as an arrow in the bountiful light, and as a lantern when my path plunges into darkness, into the valley of my own shadow.

Last year, my word was “goddess,” which helped me to learn that connecting with divinity isn’t simply about ecstasy; it is about connecting with even the rage and the madness and the grief that goddesses go through in their own stories. It is about knowing oneself as one knows the night and the day: not hating some traits and preferring others, but rather accepting, loving, and embracing both as vital parts of life, and moving through them with ease, as Persephone does between earth and the underworld.

In 2017, my word was “self-love.” It was a word that led to me going on a three day, three night vision fast in the mountains, it led to my relationship with my daughter’s father transforming from domestic partnership to a co-parenting friendship, it led to me cleaning up my diet, and it put me on the path to greater self-awareness. It also gave me a deeper understanding of what self-love truly means: it’s not all bubble baths and lazy Sundays. It’s also looking critically at the parts of our lives (inner and outer) that are no longer serving our growth or the growth of the other people involved, and replacing those parts with things that do serve us and all involved.


Normally, I choose a focus word for my year before the new year even starts. But, deep in grief, my word for 2019 could not find me; I wasn’t listening to anything but the earthquakes in my chest.

Finally, nearly two months after the beginning of the new year (and three months after one of my best friends died) and a night before snow began to fall on this Oregon city, my word came to me: lush.

Lush as in beneficial growth.

Lush as in slowness that is not stasis but is, rather, rich with meaning, mindfulness, and possibility.

Lush as in vivid sensory moments. As in not a moment wasted. Every moment noticed and appreciated for the lusciousness it holds.

Lush as in the mundane becoming magical.

Lush as in living my life like I’m in a Hayao Miyasaki film:

Lush as in a focus on beauty regardless, or because of, circumstance.


As with my past focus words, this word will be both a question and an answer given to myself on a regular basis:

What can I do to make this situation more lush, 
more meaningful, more beautiful, more in service to my growth?

Embody lusciousness. Engage the senses in vivid and 
sacred ways. Let the material lead to the spiritual,
by appreciating the world as it is,
not as my mind thinks it should be —
yet, not being too attached to it.
Lush, not as an end goal, but rather — 
as an avenue to Spirit.


This year, the year I descend from my head into my body.

Into my heart. My gut. My womb.

The year I am not wishing: the year I am doing. The year I am loving. The year I am passion, peace, grounding, and creation all at the same time: the year I am like a deeply rooted, steadily growing plant. Every day worthwhile. Every day making a life.

Because nature does not hurry. Nature doesn’t overthink or over-analyze.

Nature grows. Lets go of what no longer serves. Rests. Then grows some more.

Lush as in nature. Lush as in

me.


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waiting for miracles.

inspired by the writings of Charles DeLint

I’m waiting for who I was
to catch up to who I’ll be,
and waiting for miracles
to arise from the liminal streets.

I’m waiting for miracles
to arise from the liminal streets,
and waiting for remembrance
to illuminate the spirit within me.

I’m waiting for remembrance
to illuminate the spirit within me,
and waiting for absurd good news
to remind how magical the world can be.

I’m waiting for absurd good news
to remind how magical the world can be,
and waiting for who I was
to catch up to who I’ll be.

I’m waiting for miracles
to arise from the liminal streets,
and beginning again to think

that the creation of miracles
is actually up to me.

intention.

more lush

give me more

candle light curling tea steam

on rainy evenings

more depth

breathing liminal light shadows

where the dawn beckons

more vibrancy

green growing dying colorful things

in the sweet daylight

more spirit

laughing crying dancing incense moon

at sacred midnight

give me more

more

pause

more

center

more

creation

more

more

more

lush

in the

chaos

of

this one spiraling

fractal

beautiful terrible

life.


gratitude on a misty February morning.

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.

It is calling to me.


re-Connection.

We Remember ourselves
through our connections,

like these windswept dunes in sunlight
joyful crashing waves
dripping rainbow moss sunset

and these people
made of dreams
stitched together with hope
illuminated by surrender.

I Remember myself
where boundaries dissolve.

Soak me in tenderness.
Dance me with love.
Together, we Remember ourselves.

angry mom.

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This blog is a place of authenticity. This post was difficult for me to write because of how much authenticity it required of me; it is a subject I have been ashamed to talk about previously.


When I became a mother, a part of myself that I thought I had worked through reared its ugly head: my anger.

At first, I thought it was just pregnancy hormones; after all, pregnant women are known for being rather touchy. I would become unnecessarily angry over, say, the dishes not being done: I would yell about it, then devolve into uncontrollable tears. Then I thought it was the stress and sleeplessness of being a new mom: how can I be calm when I’m getting an hour of sleep a night, and my colicky baby is screaming her head off for hours? When it didn’t go away after those times passed, it became one of the many factors of the breakdown of the relationship between my daughter’s father and I: every slight on his part evoked a response of resentment and sneering, all-too-eloquent poisonous words on my part. After our separation, my friends convinced me the anger was a survival mechanism my psyche used in response to a toxic situation.

Yesterday, Luna and I were in Dollar Tree. She was cranky from having to be dragged from place to place, usually having to hold my hand or be stuck in a bus seat or grocery cart seat. All she wanted was to go to a playground and play, like we had done that morning. Errand days are always a bit stressful. Today I had to pick her up and put in the cart on the way to the checkout line, so she wasn’t grabbing everything off the shelves, and she was not pleased. The whining began. The very loud whining that feels like a physical grating on my every nerve.

“Stop it,” I hissed. “Stop right now.”

She whined louder. “But I love you!”

“Then stop!” I hissed more as I put the items on the belt.

She became irritated that she didn’t get to help put the stuff up on the counter belt. The whining continued. She grabbed my card out of the chip reader while I was hurriedly trying to put things in our bag.

I yanked the card out of her hand and shoved the cart away from the counter. “You need to stop right now. I’m done with this. I’m over it. We’re not going to the playground after this.”

I could feel everyone’s eyes on me, and I felt embarrassed, and my anger grew out of my embarrassment. My vision felt tunneled, my breath short.

“But I want you to be happy!” Luna whined louder.

I hurriedly paid, the cashier wisely ignoring the situation with a straight face, and practically ran out of the store.

Luna repeated her beseeching.

“Then stop! Stop right now!” I said, anger bordering on desperation. “Stop whining!”

I grabbed our bags and pulled her by the hand down the street, my anger prickling at the edges of my skin, making every sound and image feel like a physical assault on my senses.

A couple blocks down, as Luna walked on a low wall, I abruptly stopped and sat down. She stopped as well, her eyes downcast, and sank down onto my lap.

I held her, this little girl that I had grown in me in the paradisaical heat of Maui, where I bounced from one bad housing situation to another, and felt completely emotionally unsupported. This little girl I had spent days, months alone at home with in the darkness and isolation of the rural Alaskan winter, where my only emotional support was the internet, the mountains, and my own notebook, other than the occasional phone call with my parents in Australia

This little girl I had roadtripped with from Alaska to Oregon. This little girl I tried to teach how to be around other kids while also protecting her from the disdain of others, because she is wild and strong and female, words society does not like to be in the same sentence.

This little girl who had to watch her parents fight, and who had to learn that we both loved her even while we no longer were going to live together.

This little girl who holds so much of me and so much of her dad. This little girl who, last night, as I tried to get her ready for bed, said to me with tears in her eyes, “I miss my dad.”

And I held her and said, “I know. I understand.”

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When I was growing up, my anger was not well received. Because I was wild and strong and female, and despite Alaska being a state filled with wild, strong females, American society still poisoned the population’s subconscious. I used to–still do, sometimes–joke with people about how I got kicked out of five day cares and most babysitters wouldn’t watch me. In elementary school, and as I transitioned into adolescence, I learned that the way to ensure I would have any kind of friends at all is to make sure all negative emotions are tucked away fully.

I thought my calming down was a result of becoming intensely interested in spiritual matters such as meditation; when I left home at 18, I learned this was not the case, as I descended into a dazed, years-long subliminal depression that drove me to get drunk on a weekly basis and indulge in other things that fed an internalized hatred of my Shadow-self as I desperately tried to follow a niggle I didn’t understand that arose from my soul. My burial of my childhood anger and loneliness were buried even deeper when I became homeless, and being agreeable became a survival tactic.

The hardest part of becoming a parent is not the tantrums, or the responsibility, or the sleeplessness.

The hardest part of becoming a parent is facing your own deeply buried wounds. Facing the child inside you that is still fuming, still crying, still demanding the acknowledgement they desperately need.


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I’ve become intensely aware of my anger lately, perhaps because I’ve increased the level of meditation, yoga, and intentional movement I’ve incorporated into my life recently. In an article on mindbodygreen by Tom Cronlin, he talks about how the deep physiological rest of meditation helps suppressed angers become unlocked, the body recognizing a spot of deeply buried tension that is not meant to be there, that is foreign to us.

Last night, I tossed and turned in bed, my heart plagued with guilt about my public impatience with Luna that day, and on other days. Impatience that illicits her desperate comments of “But I love you! But I want you be happy!” and wrenches my spirit. I want so much to be the perpetually calm mother she deserves. I remember with painful clarity when she was a baby, and she had been screaming for an hour, and it was still hours until her father got home so I could get even a five minute break, and the physical assault of her cries on my senses pushed me to scream back, “Stop crying! Just stop! Please just stop!”

I remember when that little crawling thing looked at me, appalled, and gulped back her tears. And the guilt that even now crashes over me when I remember.

I know that, to avoid wounding her the way I was wounded, I must heal myself.


Luna is now 3 and a half years old, and I know better now that she is my mirror. When I am tense, she is tense. And when I can’t stand her whines and cries and anger, it’s because I can’t stand the whines and cries and anger of my own inner child.

Like a child, I am intensely sensitive to sensory stimulation. There’s a reason I tell people I have a low stress tolerance, and that I don’t like having more than one or two or, at most, three things on my to-do list a day, and it is because of my deeply buried anger that I don’t like to talk about. That I don’t like to admit to people, because I know that to most people, I seem sweet as can be.

I’ve found that the key to handling this anger in my parenting (and thus, most of the time, avoiding personal meltdowns like the one I had the day before, when I felt too paralyzed by the sensory stimulation to act true to myself) is to remember that my ability to handle stress is directly linked to my ability to have fun during whatever I’m doing. This is my parenting strategy in every situation. I tell people it’s called playful parenting, which I’m sure is a thing that there are books on, because I can’t possibly be the only one to do this. But if I can treat my daughter, in her anger, the way I wish I had been treated for my anger, then perhaps she won’t need to bury her anger.

If she starts freaking out, first I’ll honor her feelings. I’ll tell her it’s OK to be angry, but that _______ (it’s not OK to hit; we need to do this thing because ______; I need her to be patient for me until I finish _____ ). I’ll give her a hug if that’s what she needs. If it continues…I’ll try to make it funny. She screams at me, I scream back, but with a smile and a laugh afterwards. Pretty soon it becomes a game.

A benefit of her getting older, too, is that I’m able to talk to her. Last night, when we got home–and she was tired, and hungry, and probably still sensitive after our argument earlier—she started whining again, and I threw up my hands and walked quickly to the bedroom. She followed, starting her beseeching statements again. I put my hands up and said, “I need…I need…us to just breathe for a minute.”

“Ok,” she said, immediately calming.

And we stood together, raising our arms up and down, inhaling and exhaling deeply.

Her little voice saying, “Just….breathe.”

And my own inner child calmed.

And I felt so grateful for the way parenting can be a journey of healing the child within ourselves.

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My to-do list for helping my inner child release her anger and sadness:

  • Get a gym membership, or sign up for a martial arts class. Something physical and aggressive to channel that inner anger.
  • Make some angry art this week.
  • Curl up alone in my room and let my inner child cry and punch pillows.
  • Be gentle with myself in moments of sensory stimulation and busy-ness: feed a mindset of playfulness, and wear soft cozy things, and hug Luna a lot.

What is your inner child telling you, in your worst moments? Don’t put their words and feelings down. Honor them. They are you.


xoxo,

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may all your days end in laughter.

The ego is sneaky. It likes to think it’s the master of the house.

The ego is like the overbearing party guest who decides they need to be the center of attention, and if no one likes it, they can damn well leave the party.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not one of those people who think the ego needs to be destroyed. On the contrary, when people talk about “transcending the ego,” I will often be the one of the first to defend the right of the ego to have a seat at the table, being, of course, integral to our individual survival.

But I also know the ego isn’t the master of the house (the body, the life). The soul is.

Most of the time, this knowledge is purely intellectual. I can’t claim to have gotten to a point in my life when the ego is never the master of my house. The times that my soul is entirely in charge have too much distance between them, amidst the fears and anxieties of life.

However, my personal intention in my spiritual practice isn’t to cut the ego down to size, as I’ve found this to be an exhausting endeavor; my intention, rather, is to make far more frequent the amount of time the soul is in charge. This takes consistency and a healthy dose of cleverness and awareness, but is far less likely to feel like rowing upstream with a heavy wind to your face.

As I said, though, the ego is sneaky. When it’s not being the overbearing party guest, it’s being the vindictive one; the one that will let the host (the soul) think that they’ve finally got a handle on things, and then they make a few snide remarks that emotionally beat down the host and–sometimes–ruin the party.

The ego is great for taking the piss out of people (as my Australian mother would say), as well as for when a situation calls for strong defenses. Not so great, however, for situations meant to be expansive and wonderful or, at the very least, fun.


 

On Monday this week, the New Moon, I cleaned my apartment as much as I could. Keeping up with a toddler’s messes is difficult at best, and I lamented that I hadn’t yet been able to buy a new vacuum. Still, I tried my best. After a semi-stressful midafternoon trip to the library with my grouchy Lunabugs, she was sitting in front of a movie as I made dinner. My energy felt scattered, and I felt a sudden yearning for ceremony.

Those are the times I know my soul is clearing her throat and nudging me: when the yearning for ceremony becomes so great that I move without thinking. Ceremony grows out of the moment instead of feeling forced.

I found myself in front of my altar. The lights were out, except for the blue glow of the small TV that Luna watched her movie on, and my mind was already working on tuning out the sounds of Barbie – The Diamond Castle. Smoke curled up from the sage bundle I held over the central candle flame, and I waved the smoke around the room and verbally intoned a prayer of cleansing and blessing (Luna ignored me, being used to me doing this sort of stuff).

By the time I made it back to the altar, the sound of the movie barely reached my ears. My arms were out. Gratitude and love were pouring forth from my heart as I prayed to the directions, to the manifestations of the divine I connect with, to the soul of the land. I barely spoke–rather, the prayer was a feeling, unleashing in pulsing waves from every part of me. I began to caress myself, starting at my feet and working my way upward, sending these waves of love and gratitude to every part of my body as my awareness dwelled in each. I swayed and danced as I reach my torso, sang and touched my tongue and ran my fingers through my hair as I brought myself nearly to the brink of tears (I always am, when I take the time to give myself love).

When I finally reached my head/brain and turned once more towards my altar, I lit the other three candles arranged around it, and picked up my glass of red wine. I poured some into a small glass bowl with a few sprigs of rosemary in it, and held the wine aloft, unexpected words bubbling up intuitively: “To the Original Love, from which came Life.”

The glass bowl I put down, and picked up my own glass again. Luna noticed what was happening, and asked to be picked up. I hefted her onto my hip, and held the glass up. “My intention for this New Moon, for this moon phase, is to stand in the light of the Original Love. I am in the flow of the Light of the Original Love.”

I sipped some wine, then began expressing my gratitude once more to the directions, the manifestations of the Divine in my life, and to the Land. “Thank you, ____, thank you for your presence!”

Luna grabbed my face. “My presents!” She claimed. I laughed, and kept speaking my farewell; Luna kept repeating her own statement. She joined me in saying “Blessed Be” as I extinguished each candle.

I was bathed in absolute pure bliss and gratitude. My soul was the life of the party. All of my inner eyes were on her and she filled my body-house with Life and Joy. I was riding the high of the party…

then Luna “colored” with blueberry-stained yogurt in two of my favorite poetry books.

Suddenly I plunged into absolute irritation. “No!” I cried. “Not okay! You know that’s not okay! Get away from my books!” (I’m very protective of my books.) My ego grabbed the mic and plunged into streams of foul language. “Ugh, if you would just pay attention…I can’t believe you would try to do a ritual with your TODDLER present…and now look, you’ve gone from spiritually connected and love-filled to hypocritically angry…who are you kidding, you’ll never be who you want to be if you can’t keep it together for one freaking hour after a ceremony, why do you even TRY?”

As I started resentfully reading to Luna, I suddenly realized what had happened.

I had just made a very powerful intention for this moon cycle to dwell in the very energy of Original Love, and my ego FREAKED OUT.

Out of self-preservation, it flipped its lid. It went “OH NO. There’s a chance I won’t be needed anymore. Something needs to go wrong. It is going to go wrong RIGHT NOW, and it’s going to happen because you’re riding a HIGH of SACREDNESS and you haven’t grounded properly yet and you’re not paying enough attention…!”

Then when that thing did go wrong, my ego went, “Oh good, now that that went wrong, I can now insult my host so badly that they won’t ever try to be in charge of this party again, and thus my rightful place of Head Honcho will no longer be jeopardized.”

Once I realized the drama that just went on between my soul and my ego, the irritation with myself and with Luna just completely melted away. It felt like such a grand joke to play on me.

In fact, I just had a thought: the situation could even be seen as the Universe playing a joke on me. “Oh look at that, Rebecca is getting too serious again, forgetting that no matter how spiritual-y she is, Life still happens, and Life is messy…so let’s send her a reminder, eh?”

I once read something–I can’t remember where, but it’s always stuck with me–where someone said something along the lines of, “If you’re not laughing with the Universe, you don’t get the joke.”

This time I got the joke. Maybe not in time to not be upset about my poetry books, but at least I laughed at myself in the end. Oh, ego–you’re a sneaky one. And the Universe is even sneakier.

And maybe that’s one of the qualities of Original Love. It’s finding your own mistakes genuinely hilarious.

So I laughed at myself, then kept reading to Luna–this time, with more expression, more comedy, more singing, so that when I was ready to stop and eat some dinner, she was desperate for me to continue.


Think of a time when your day seemed to go from great to horrible, yet somehow you were still able to laugh.

That was your soul, back in charge.


xoxo,

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