Archive | May, 2015

When You Need a Bit of Magic.

Back when I was a Bible-believing Protestant (Phylum: Presbyterian), I felt a certain kind of magic about my life. It felt as though I was guided from goodness to goodness, and supported in the difficult times. This magic was sometimes unseen and heard only in my heart. Other times, there were obvious helpers.

It felt really, really good to live in the magic.

Once, on a mission trip in Northern Mexico, our church group recounted all the ‘miracles’ members had seen or experienced in the day. Suddenly, the pleasant surprise of finding one’s watch became a miracle. As did good food, adequate toilets, and shampoo. Small things were miraculous. It felt warm and soft and joyful to see life like that; magical.

Not surprisingly, when I left the church, the magic ceased.

I suppose it was partially because I didn’t believe in magic anymore. ‘Magic’ had only happened in church before. There was both causation and correlation for this belief. So, when ‘church’ was gone, so was ‘magic.’

I threw the baby out with the bathwater; there is magic in just about everything.

 

Today I have more trouble finding the magic on a regular basis than believing it exists. I know it exists. Keeping a firm grip on it, when you’re a ‘solitary practitioner’ (of sorts) is tougher. Finding and making magic is easier when you have a group supporting you. (And perhaps it is easier to find and make when you are 18.)

I’ve been a little out of touch with my magic these past months. I’m starting to miss it. (Because magic is beautiful!)

I need a bit of magic. (!)
It’s time to find it again.
To cultivate it.
To find the path into the realm of magic.

If you need to get back to your magic – or maybe find it for the first time – here are the breadcrumbs I use.

green background with two dandelion seeds floating in mid-air, as if by magic

Ways to Find and Make Magic

1. Poetry.

It does not have to rhyme, although I love a good Shel Silverstein poem. It also does not need strange line breaks. Rainer Maria Rilke and Anais Nin are poets in paragraphs. Other favorites: e.e. cummings; Pablo Neruda; William Stafford.

Two books I always turn to for magic: The Soul is Here for It’s Own Joy, edited by Robert Bly and Love Poems From God, translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

I think a good Eminem or Will Smith song also qualifies.

 

2. Lunch outside. Alone.

Everyone needs to get outside more. Especially if you work in a glass box all day. Being outside is easy enough during your lunch break. Be bold! Go!

What’s even better is to be brave and go alone. Sit quietly. Take in the sights, the small beauties (there are always some). Chew more. Recount happy memories. Do not look at your phone. Breathe.

Magic is often small and wild, being outdoors makes it easier to find.

 

3. Air Guitar!

There is a song you like. It makes you play the air guitar. Or the air drums. Or dance in your car (this is a sacred practice, by the way).

Play. That. Song.

You know the moment when you start to smirk or smile, because you feel awesome? Because you are the song and it is you? But then you sort of tamper it down because: adult? Don’t do that. That smile, that feeling of glee: that’s magic. Live right there for a moment.

[A girl can for days on just a few minutes of that feeling inside the smile.]

 

4. Be soft.

Sometimes life is so intense, so full, so loud. Magic is often found in the opposite of what we are doing or being. There are times when loud music will lead us to the wild, and other times when softness will bring us to the magic, like a breeze through the leaves.

Magic is not just the forceful, quick shake of the wand, it is also the swirling of the hands and wrists, leading the eye away from the normal.  Try a slow walk, a slow dance, three minutes of breathing fully.

 

5. Touch your own skin.

Touch is so magical. Even from ourselves. Perhaps especially from ourselves. When is the last time you gently rubbed lotion into your own hands or legs? How about your own hand touching your forearms (long, pressured strokes are nice), or your neck, or your lips?

Lay your fingers gently on yourself. Feel them.

 

6. Slow down.

Magic may be wild, but she also likes things to go slowly. Probably because we are so fast all the time. Slow is sort of like soft, but there are differences. Slow is pink rose petals, beach walking, stone throwing, reading on a blanket, naps in the sun. Even just walking to your car at the end of the day with a slower pace may show you some little magical moment.

 

7. With your friends.

I missed my women’s group this week. I needed to be away for another responsibility, but – wowza – I missed my group. They are magic and healing and patience and joy for my heart. They show me my magic, in good times and bad. And that is some magic right there, people.

Find the ones who love you through everything. Who call you on your shit. Who ugly cry with you. Those are magic people. And they will bring out the magic in you.

 

8. Laugh.

It’s always magical. The bigger and deeper, the better. Extra points if it hurts like an ab workout.

 

9. Children and small animals.

Kids know the way to magic, unless trauma or adult-ing has forced them out of it. Ask them to show you the most magical thing they know. And believe them. 

 

10. Believe and seek.

The best way of all to magic is to believe in it. If you believe, even a little, magic will reward you.

Let me ask you: what was your smallest miracle today? 

Did you find your watch?
Did your car start?
Do your legs work?
Does someone love you?

That is magic, right in your own life.
Run with it.

 

 

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Downshifting :: From Passion to Infatuation

I started this blog as a way of sharing my ideas about things (spirituality, sex, sensuality, the sacred in pop culture), but mostly because I wanted a place to share and document my pursuit of making Life my lover. Of experiencing and growing into sensuality.

When I started writing I was going through a hormonal shift that pushed my libido through the roof. After some very un-healthy attempts at handling it, I needed a way to use the sexy energy- for good.

I decided to take Life as my lover. (I wanted a human one, but that just never quite worked out. Also, I was so needy, it would have been awful.)

At first, taking Life as my lover meant something passionate to me.

Bright colors.
Intense experiences.
Dark alleys with hot kisses (which looked like adventures by myself, and daring myself to try new things).
Writing love notes to all of you.
Laughing loudly.
Welcoming every beauty I saw, touched, smelled, and tasted.

It was so grand.

 

But these last six moths have been different.

A new facet of passion is flowing through me.

It feels like a downshift, but I don’t think it is really.

For the last six months I’ve been dealing with not only low energy, but also a dampened mood (as a result of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis). I have not felt as energized, and my libido has been…greatly reduced. It feels like someone turned down the energy of everything by 20%.

Music is less joyful. Colors are less intense. Tastes are not as explosive. The zest has fizzled, a bit.

I have downshifted from passion to infatuation, I think.

 

cherryblossom-500

 

At first this felt like a loss.
I love my libido!
I have learned to do awesome things with it!
It became a real joy to me.
(Which felt so good after the initial fuck-ups in the hormone surge.)

But what I have come to learn lately is that this is just another facet of passion.
A quieter facet.
It is the quiet noticing of infatuation, instead of the pressing intensity of passion.

Instead of brash, bright hot pink, it is a softer, petal pink.
Instead of a rose to smell, it is the honeysuckle.
The firm grip around my hips is now a soft fingertip trailing along my arm.

I thought it was a loss…but now I know- it is just different.

There are certainly times when I wish I was back to the intense, brash, wildness. Perhaps it will come back when my medications are properly adjusted (goddess, I hope so!).

But I will also enjoy what I have now.
Because it is lovely, too.
In it’s own way.

Life is full of everything.
And I want to enjoy it all.
Life is my lover, and it brings me gifts each day.
I will not deny them, simply because they do not look as I wish them to.

That would be foolish.
And a waste of a good time.

Here is to Life; however it shows up, it’s good.

 

 

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The ‘Good’ List

People, I haven’t posted in 10 days or something! I can’t believe it. I love this site so much, I mean…really love it. So the fact that I haven’t been here for that long should tell you something: I have been biz-zay.

But here I am.
And I am so glad to be here. (!!!)

So, part of what has been happening in my world is some new stuff. Updating my other website (still a work in progress, yo). Getting a Facebook page ready for this site and one other Facebook page, too.

And working my two jobs.

And all the roles.

And my thyroid has not been doing so well. I am, only this week, feeling about 80% my normal self. Lack of energy sucks.

I have also been blowing up a couple of small things in my life.
(More on that later.)

What has kept me going through all this is a practice I started about a month ago.
I call it ‘The Good List.’

The Good List is something I started because I needed to see – and celebrate! – what was good in my day, each day.

Now, you’re going to think, “That sounds like a Gratitude List, Joanna.”
Yes, it kind of is.

But, actually, I kind of stink at gratitude, when it comes to listing stuff out.

Just about every time I have ever sat down to write a Gratitude List, I can name one or two things and then I fall into this weird, difficult place: Shouldsville. My Gratitude List, which is things I am grateful for, turns into a list of what I should be grateful for.

And ‘should’ is just a bonerkiller, people.

I don’t know why my brain does this. But it does. And so I list out a couple of actual gratitude things, and then list a whole lot of ‘should be’ gratitude things. And it just takes the wind out of my sails.

Part of this is also brain function. We tire of things, naturally, after a certain period of time. We seek the new. It’s the Law of Diminishing Returns, but about gratitude. Which seems rather ironic, doesn’t it?

I know I am a ‘Fifty Shades of Distinction’ person- the little tonal differences in the grays of life and language make me curious, help me find what fits. The distinction between ‘good’ and ‘gratitude’ may mean nothing to you. But to me it means a lot.

So, I keep my Good List.

It is simply a list of all the things that I see as good in my day.

It is very subjective.
It does not include any kind of ‘should.’
It might be something funny
or about reaching a goal
or noticing an experience that I enjoyed.

The Good List is all about me and what I find to be good in my life.

an open journal with a pen and writing across the page

Funny thing is, after I write my Good List, I usually feel very grateful.
(Duh, right?)

So, perhaps The Good List is just another way of seeing what I might be grateful for. And then choosing to be grateful. But now I know exactly what I am grateful for.

 

You might be wondering: what happens when I don’t see any good in my day?

Well, I can usually find something. But if it was just a particularly shitty day, I start listing what I am grateful for (and should be grateful for), which always starts with this: breathing.

Because breathing is always good and I am always grateful for it.

What has helped me most about making The Good List is just noticing what is really going good in my life. It has nothing to do with cultural standards of gratefulness (the ‘shoulds’). It is really just about recognizing and feeling happy about my own life.

The Good List has also helped me build a small foundation of good and happiness inside myself. The Good List has helped me see patterns and notice what I enjoy- and get more of it. I can return to the pages at any time, run my fingers down the lists, and be reminded of how good things are.

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Spring Cleaning :: Soul-Work

I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter…
I’m the self-inflicted mind detonator, mind detonator…
You’re the firestarter, twisted firestarter.

Firestarter, The Prodigy

 

The last two weeks have been rough on a lot of folks.

My Facebook feed has been filled with people being frustrated, spending late nights with old stories about who they are and what they want, going through dark times, contemplating their own limitations, and a whole lot of ‘what-the-fuck?!?’

I’m in this mix, too.

I’ve gone from contemplating quitting everything (except breathing, partnering, and mothering, but everything else could go fuck itself two weeks ago) to digging into old, painful fears, to wrestling with a belief about myself as incapable (and, you know, 20 other self-defeating beliefs at the same time).

I am in a course right now where we were encouraged to connect with our ‘gray’- that place in between Where We Are and Where We Want to Go. My gray felt like a hurricane of personal difficulty and confusion. A personal shit storm, pretty much.

Everything kept swirling around me. I would try to grasp one of the frustrations or fears (to finally get a look at it) and my head felt like it was spinning. Then, the To Do list would come grab me by the scruff and away I would go- still holding on to all that was swirling around my head and inside my heart.

It has been a level of suck unseen in the past few years.

 

Earlier this week I was reading a post from Elizabeth Peru (my ‘go to’ astrology person– I dig her) where she wrote something about this week being full of our personal potential  and all that we were becoming.

And I thought, “What the hell? That is not what is happening to me. All around me is nothing but my personal shit. How I fear this. How that rules me. How I want something but can’t seem to get it. How I feel stupid and silly. How I’m not good enough. That does not sound like potential to me.”

It sounded like a buffet of shite.
An impressive array of all the fear, anger, frustration, and confusion that sit inside me.
All the things that pain me.
All the ways in which I don’t measure up.
All the frustration of my life and business- all at the same damn time.

In a matter of a few seconds, in the way only the mind can run, came the answer.

My potential and becoming this week are about cleaning. that. shit. out.

Oh.
Oh!
I got it.

 

The reason this felt like a hurricane was because it was time to let go of so much and fling it into the wind. It was time to let That Which Is Not My Potential go. Standing in the center of the wind-whipped emotions, I realized I was the center- clear and true- and it was time to let some old things go so I could stand more clearly in my own power and truth.

The buffet of shite? Time to go Greek: grab those plates, and with an “Oh-pah!” fling those babies down. I cannot describe the feeling in one word. Only that I felt, if I did not let go of these things (which had, perhaps, been ‘useful’ or ‘supportive’ or just ‘attached to me’ in the past), they would only continue to hang on to me and drag me down.

It was time for the Spring cleaning of my soul.

Time to kiss the New Moon with my own fire- made from that which is ready to burn.
I am the firestarter.

a table chair sitting next to a wild fire, ablaze

 

 

Before setting it all alight, though, I had to discern. I had to sit with the fears and old stories. My friend Jennifer calls this ‘leaning in;’ to listen to my fears as though they had something to tell me. Because they did. They held different truths- about who I used to be, who I am, and who I am becoming. I needed to listen to them to fully understand myself and my growth.

I also cried about how I felt over the fears and frustrations and stories. Many times, just this crying, acknowledging, and acceptance helped the fears dissipate. Some of them still hold a big emotional pull for me. But many of them, like old, dry sticks, are ready to burn.

 

Here is what I am setting fire to:

1. The belief that my ideas and opinions are less than any one else’s.

2. The fear of losing friendships and connections because of who I am or what I express.

3. The belief that I’m not good at ‘doing’ business/marketing/etc.

4. The concept that my inherent worth is tied to my income. (Done! So done!)

5. The idea that my work does not matter. (So many of you wonderful people have showed me the truth. Thank you!)

6. That we cannot ask questions out of fear, ignorance, stupidity, bias, or anything else. (Questions are the only way we get free.)

This is not so much about ‘burning away negativity’ as it is about getting rid of that which I no longer need. Even though these things look negative, it could also have been time for me to leave a particular spiritual practice or move out of my office. These ideas and beliefs were holding me back.

 

I’m letting these old ideas leave my brain, psyche, and body. Some will go through fire, some will drip away, others will take some extra effort. But I know these are ready to leave.

And, having swept out these deep, dark places inside me, I know my soul is a bit cleaner and clearer- and ready to let my potential develop. There is room to breathe and grow now.

 

Questions:

  • What in you is ready to be cleaned out this Spring?
  • Have you felt dragged down by something difficult? How are you handling it?
  • If you could burn away something you don’t want anymore, what would it be? And what kind of ritual would you make for letting it go?
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