Archive | September, 2015

Hungry and Alone

You ever been hungry and felt it?

The gnawing in your belly.
The gurgle noises.
The rolling and rumbling.

And then, you sit down to eat, and discover you are fucking ravenous and could possibly consume everything in front of you?

That happened around here recently.

::: ::: ::: :::

For years, I’ve ‘done’ spiritual practice.
Meditated.
Prayed.
Add a couple of other things now and then.
Checked it off my list.

And while practice did help calm my brain, surrender to some hard lessons, and help me learn to stay in the moment, it was not always as filling as I felt it could be. Many days there was something missing, but I could never quite put my finger on it.

It felt like I was getting what I needed…almost.
I was ticking the boxes of spiritual practice.
It should have been enough.
But somewhere, back there in my deepest soul, it wasn’t.

Then I discovered spiritual nourishment.
Let me say that again: spiritual nourishment.

And I discovered how ravenous I was.

::: ::: ::: :::

Spiritual nourishment shares space with, but is very different from, spiritual practice.

Spiritual nourishment makes my soul feel juicy and alive. Spiritual nourishment feels like a new lover- whisking me away on desire into beautiful places that fill up my heart and make it sing. It also feels like an old lover, comforting and supportive. Spiritual nourishment is like bone broth with just the right seasonings – filling, calming, exciting, nourishing.

::: ::: ::: :::

As part of both my spiritual practice and my spiritual nourishment, I read poetry.
William Stafford is my favorite. (Hence, my pen name.)
Mary Oliver.
Pablo Castaneda.
Compilations and prayer books.

And these poets and their words certainly bring me joy and comfort and insight.

But I had forgotten, until recently, how nourishing I find the writings of other people on the spiritual awareness and development path.

There is nothing quite like a spiritual memoir or a book of spiritual teachings to make me feel well fed. I had forgotten how good it feels to be spiritually fed and nourished.

I was so hungry- and I didn’t know it until I started reading something besides poetry.

I found this out when I read Tosha Silver’s Outrageous Openness. Her words were concise and dense, packed with so much insight and humanity. I read the book in three days and am proceeding to read it a second time.

After filling the empty spiritual space, I can take the time to savor this second round.

I no longer feel hungry.

 

woman alone in spiritual contemplation with the sun shining on her face

The major premise of Silver’s book is that we are not alone in the spiritual life, or in life at all.

For so many years I have been practicing solo, with my patchwork quilt of beliefs. I have done what I needed to do for spiritual growth and healing. But I have done it with the feeling of aloneness.

I have pushed ahead on my own for so many years.
I forgot  I actually do have a connection with The Great Something.
And that I am a part of the whole of this Universe; I am not disconnected.

This came as a sort of revelation to me.
I don’t know why.

I knew, twenty-two years ago, that I was not alone. That I had support and unconditional love. But I lost that somewhere.

But, reading Outrageous Openness brought me to that understanding. Again.
And I am practicing this understanding of connection a bit each day. Reminding myself that Life is actually here to support me– and something good will come of all my trials and work.

::: ::: ::: :::

A week ago I felt hungry and alone.
Hungry for spiritual nourishment, not just practice.
Alone with the misguided view that I was disconnected.

But today I feel so different.
Nourished.
Joyful.
Juicy.
Grateful.
Aware.
Connected.
Faithful.

 

 

0

Owning Your Life :: Your Fire

A few months back I took a class called the “Magic Making Circle” with Hannah Marcotti. (She’s lovely- go check her out.) As part of the class, she mailed us (real mail! so fun!) a little visual magic clue about what our journey was going to be about.

These clues were randomly sent (or, more likely, paired by what energy the person needed and what the card shared) and each arrived at our door early in the game. Mine said, ‘Your Fire.’

 

altar with pink cloth candle, multi-colored necklace and a placard with the words 'your fire'

 

Of course, because I talk about sex and hang out with my sexy energy all day long, I figured the clue was about sex. Fire and sex- they’re pretty quickly connected in many people’s minds (I’m not the only one, right?).

Along close to that same time we were also asked to share a feeling we wanted to carry us through the class. The feeling I wanted was “owning it.”

 

I had a loose logical definition of what that meant – owning my life, feeling confident in it. But the feeling was a far greater guide. The feeling of ‘owning it’ was strong and flexible, whole and broken and stitched all-at-once, true to my nature and experience, and purple/black/green vines with thick roots.

As the next six months went on, everything I did came back to ‘owning it.’

::: ::: ::: :::

I wish I had ‘Six Easy Steps to Own Your Life’ to tell you.
I do not.

What I can tell you is what happened in my mind and body.

Every time something would come into my head- especially old experiences – I would purposefully notice it. I took a moment and recognized the old memory, a current feeling, a mistake, or doing some good. I would sit and breathe with it for a moment, let the thing, experience, or feeling be acknowledged. I often started with a polite, ‘Hello, you.’ in my head.

And then I would imagine moving that piece from just being inside my head to being inside the center of myself. It felt like dropping food coloring into clear water – the particles of the experience, feeling, or thought would dissipate within me and color my entire self.

The thing would no longer be something just in my head, it would be part of my totality. Owning it meant making it a part of myself. My whole self.

Everyday something new arrived.
Hello, fear. Come on in. I see you.
Ah, memory of guilt from old boyfriend…hey there.
My words just helped someone! – there’s space for you right here, too.

As the six months passed, I owned more and more of myself.
My ideas.
My pain.
My expectations.
My daydreams.
My feelings.
My failures.
My triumphs.

The more I owned of myself, the better I felt. The act of accepting myself, totally and utterly, began to give me strength and energy.

::: ::: ::: :::

By the time the six months was over I began to understand: this self acceptance was my fire.

It is a slow burning fire.
But it gets adequately stoked each day.

The burning is not one of desire.
It is a burning of love.
Of truth.
Of strength and wholeness.
It is a burning that fuels me gently and steadily.

I feel it in my chest as I write this.
It feels like the beginning of really falling in love with myself.

My fire is mine.
I am my own.
I own my whole life.
My fire is me.

 

 

1

To love an awakened woman. . .

A few posts ago, I gave a shout out to the wildness of men and wrote of how I wanted to be a safe place for them to rest. Here is one for the awakened ladies.

If you choose to love one of us, you’re making a big choice, Wild Man. A choice that will change your life and let you be loved soul-deep, if you let it. There will be moments of safety and rapture. There will also be moments of challenge and growth. Because awakened women want an awakened, wild, fulfilled partner.

 

If You Choose To Love An Awakened Woman

by Sophie Bashford

 

If you choose to love an awakened woman, understand that you are entering into new, radical, and challenging territory.

If you choose to love an awakened woman, you cannot stay asleep.

If you choose to love an awakened woman, every part of your soul will be aroused, not just your sexual organs, or even your heart.

Frankly, if you prefer a normal life, stick with a normal girl.

If you want a tame life, seek only a woman who has allowed herself to be tamed.

If you only want to dip your toe into the flowing waters of Shakti, stay with the safe, tamed woman who has not yet plunged into the wildness of the Sacred Feminine ocean.

It is comfortable to love a woman who has not yet activated her inner sacred powers, because she does not push your buttons.

She will not challenge you.

She will not press you into becoming your highest Self.

She will not awaken the forgotten and numbed-out parts of your Spirit that urge you to remember that there is more to your life here than this.

She will not look into your weary eyes and send a lightning bolt of Truth through your body, jolting you awake and stirring long-lost desires for Soul Love within you.

A safe, unawakened woman will be wonderfully satisfying and soothing to your ego, heart, and body. She will walk quietly beside you and make you feel needed, responsible, like you are fulfilling your manly role.

If this is enough for you, then accept it. Love her with all your heart, remain faithful to her and thank her daily for the gift of her mild, unthreatening feminine presence in your life.

If this is not enough for you – if your heart, body, and spirit is only craving ‘the other kind of woman,’ the Wild One – then know that you are on the cusp of Soul-shifting transformation.

Know that you are making a serious choice with karmic consequences.

If you choose to step into the aura and body of a woman whose spiritual fires are blazing, you are accepting that you need a certain level of danger and risk in order to grow.

Onc you begin to love a woman of this nature, you must accept total responsibility for the life-changes that will then ensue.

Your life will not be sleepily comfortable all the time. Your life will not allow you to stay stuck in old ruts and stagnant routines. Your life will take on a radially new flavor and scent. You will be ignited by the presence of the Wild Feminine, and it will begin to send electric shockwaves of spiritual Light through your entire chakra system, attuning you the the Call of the Divine.

Choosing to be sexually and romantically intimate with an awakened woman takes masculine courage to walk fearlessly into the unknown. But it will reap rewards beyond your mind’s comprehension.

She will take you into the undiscovered worlds of mystery and magic.

She will lead you, mesmerized and half drunk with love, into the wild forests of sensual ecstasy and wonder.

She will show you sacred skies so full and burning with stars that you will start to wonder if you are still living on the same planet that you were born on.

She will break and tear you open so that your fierce, passionate heart drives you half mad with longing. You will want to consume and penetrate her on every level so that your Masculine Essence can consume and penetrate the world – illuminating the Universe with your devoted Love.

She will see you like you’ve never been seen before.

She will trust you.

She will appreciate you.

She will acknowledge your efforts to make her happy.

She will value everything good that you do, and everything good that you are.

She will not run from your darkness, because your darkness does not scare her.

She will embrace, kiss, and love you back to Life. She will speak words that your soul understands. She will not punish you for your mistakes.

It is a monumental task to love an awakened woman, because there is suddenly no place to hide. She sees everything, therefore she can love you with a depth and presence that your heart and body have yearned for so hard, so long, so fiercely…that you wonder whether you have actually been alive for all the time that she has been away.

Loving a woman like this is a choice you make to start living with your Soul on fire.

Your life will never be the same again once you’ve invited her energy in.

Take this risk on yourself, or step back, stay with the normal girl and accept a different, safer, more comfortable and somewhat calmer life.

Just make sure that if you choose the latter, you don’t spend the rest of your days with your eyes looking back over your shoulder, straining to see, once again, the hazy vision of Feminine Mystery that has now disappeared from view.

She has long gone…spiraling back up to the stars, the distant galaxies and the heavens…from where She came.

::: ::: ::: :::

If you want to love an awakened woman (a.k.a. – a Wild Woman, a woman who knows herself, a woman in love with life, a sensual woman), or even if you want to hang with her, or have a discussion with her, be bold! Do it! The Awakened Woman is poorly understood and not at all supported in this culture. So know that your interest is a rebellious and beautiful act in itself.

It takes courage to be curious- to see if what you want lies that way- but your courage will be rewarded. You may find exactly what your soul wants. You may also find you don’t want to hang out with her, can’t handle the Awakened Juice. That’s fine. At least you’ll know. (And, the way back to Normal is always short and easy. Our culture rewards Normal.)

But only the bold and courageous get to hang with the goddess. Be wild, wondering one. You’ll find treasure, either way. The outcomes of failed curiosity are so much easier to live with than regret.

With all my love,
Joanna

 

 

 

0

I am such a whiner.

And here’s why it’s awesome that I know that.

 

For years now, I have lamented my unfulfilled desire for That Guy (a person I was attracted to during my Sex Surge). I’ve been struggling with it and trying to find ways around it, though it, healing it, fulfilling it with other resources, et cetera, et cetera.

I have actually done a lot of good work on the issue. Changed myself, my perspective, my ideas on desire. Learned new skills. Felt pain and joy and excitement as I learned to let things go and embrace my desires. I am different and I see the world differently now. I know a shit-ton more about desire and sensuality, that’s for sure.

Since the end of July, Venus has been in retrograde. And this means that the planet of love, sex, and relationships is moving in such a way that our old stories, experiences, relationships, or ideas about love, sex, and relationships are up for examination. Retrograde is often a time of spiritual and emotional housecleaning.

And over the last few weeks, I have been confronted with how much whining I have done on the topic of That Guy in the last six months.

I deleted an old post because of it.
I re-wrote this one because it was so simpering originally.
I have re-read a lot of my writing about the topic and felt utterly immature about it all.

And this is awesome because it means I’ve finally moved beyond the wailing and the whining and the unfulfilled desire.

It means I see my past thoughts, actions, and writing from a different perspective. From where I am now, those posts are embarrassing. And this means I have grown up, grown beyond, enough to look back and see my choices with different eyes.

[I don’t take down posts very often, because it’s important for me to see and own my journey. The one I erased really was not worth anyone’s time. And I have plenty more posts to remind me of my past.]

 

a loft apartment with wood floors and many windows, modern furniture

During this period of Venus in retrograde, I also had a dream. I rarely remember my dreams, so I try to be attentive to them when I do.

In this dream, That Guy and I were sitting on a beautiful sea-blue couch in a gorgeous loft (open spaces are kind of my thing). We were talking, although I couldn’t hear about what. But then we clinked glasses – lovely tumblers with something alcoholic in them – and toasted each other,

‘Well, we did it…’ I said.

‘Yes. Wow. We sure did,’ he said.

We both felt a sense of accomplishment and relief.

I don’t much care if the dream was my higher self and his higher self having a talk, or if Life was hitting me with a 2×4, or if my psyche was telling me something from my own subconscious. What matters is- the message, wherever it came from, was clear: it’s over. We’ve done what we needed to do, learned what we needed to learn.

::: ::: ::: :::

I feel grateful for Venus in retrograde and what she offered me to learn- that it was time to clean things out emotionally and intellectually.  I am grateful that I took the chance to learn it. I am glad to be done with this all. And I am glad to know Life is supporting me in healing, growing, and becoming.

I suppose, in some ways, I have been singing the “I Am Done Now” song for a while. I’m not sure what the difference is this time, except that I feel it deeply within myself. My body is lighter; my psyche feels lighter. And perhaps because I have been doing the ‘two steps forward, one step back’ dance for so long, now I can see and feel the progress I have made.

What I have also learned (or this is my working theory anyway) is that whining is a way of staying in the drama while also claiming to want out of it. Look, I’m as broken as the next person. Yes, I did want to remain in the drama of it all. But not anymore.

Today is the last day of Venus in retrograde. I feel really good about all this. My friend, Christine, says I am just at a plateau. She could be right- I have no idea what else Life has in store for me. I will try to accept it with more grace, though- and less whining.

 

Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story instead of the actor in it- Ram Dass

 

 

 

0

body acceptance :: the miracle of jeans and yoga pants

I wrote a post a while ago, about being real. As each year (each day, really) passes, we have the chance to grow more real- more of who we are, more healing and overcoming, transforming pain into wisdom.

So, here is being real.

One year ago yesterday, I started medication for low-functioning thyroid. In that year, my blood sugars have improved and my joint pain has gone away, but I have also gained 12 lbs and lost 3/4 of my hair.

This year has been nothing but a journey, from doctor to doctor and research paper to research paper, to try and feel healthy again. I am on about 15 supplements right now, just hoping they will help my hair grow back or maybe lose a couple of pounds.

I wanted 40 to be more awesome than this.

::: ::: ::: :::

There have been some really tough times in this year-long journey. Conversations in my head, wondering ‘at what point would I not want to live in this body anymore?’ Would it be 250 pounds? Would it be inflammation-induced cancer? What would bring me to consider taking my own life? Some days I was closer to it than others.

I’ve also had some really tough conversations. I asked my husband, ‘You didn’t sign up to be with a bald, angry, overweight woman. What will become of us if I keep gaining weight and losing hair?’

The question I was really asking, though, was ‘what will you reflect back to me about love and acceptance if I cannot accept myself?’

That was hard to see- my lack of compassion for myself.

[He, smart guy, was honest. He said, ‘No, I didn’t sign up for that. But I love you. And right now I want to stay with you. And if you do end up being overweight, bald, and cranky, we’ll talk about it. But maybe you could also call your therapist.’]

::: ::: ::: :::

Being in this body, with the extra weight has been really uncomfortable for me.

The discomfort is not about societal standards – I have had years of those conversations with myself. Asking for who exactly did I want to color my hair, or lose a couple of pounds, or wear make-up? I got over a lot of that (probably not all, but a good portion). My body was mine and I could do as I pleased, to please myself.

But with this weight gain, my feet hurt more and my hips hurt more (I’m not sure why the hips) and I lose feeling in my legs and arms sometimes since the weight gain. It’s awesome. [Not really.]

For thirty-four years, since being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I have learned to watch and control my body very rigorously. And this thyroid issue has been almost entirely out of my control. It did not respond well to meds, the hair fell out, the other meds made me gain *more* weight, I could not find treatments I wanted to try, nor a physician to help me explore the issue.

I was more stressed out than ever before, and it wasn’t helping.
I felt days of despair.

 

colorless photo of a woman in jeans in a thicket of cherry blossoms

 

Gradually, so very slowly, I have started to come around. I can see and feel that the stress of this is hurting me mentally and physically. I need to pull back so I don’t get more in my own way, so I don’t make things even worse for myself.

Last weekend, I decided to accept where I was and….go jeans shopping.

Jeans shopping is the greatest act of self-acceptance a woman can perform. There is no getting around the fact that the size 8s don’t fit anymore. If I want to dress well, and feel comfortable, I have to let go of my expectations, desires, and control- and buy the jeans that fit.

This was really hard.
I cried in the fitting room for the first two pairs.

But the third pair was sort of magic. I looked cute in them.
I felt good in them.
What a joy it was to feel good in them.

I found four more pairs.

::: ::: ::: :::

Monday this past week, I was back to despairing. Super stressful despairing.

I spent 4 hours at a beautiful beach thinking about the way my clothes fit and moved and how awful I felt. I took no notice or enjoyment of the beach.

I got to a place where my brain actually hurt. Where I felt great despair and frustration and anger. If you’d have been near me, I would have been insufferable.

Later in the afternoon, I came out of the despair fog and I thought, “I don’t ever want to go back there again.”

And that was sort of that.

::: ::: ::: :::

Tuesday I started to remember and be grateful for all I do have. The weight sits okay on my frame. There is still plenty of hair on my head- and it looks fine. I refused to stress about the thyroid implications anymore. I was doing my best, and that’s all I could do.

I also saw my diabetes doctor that day, and she – ever so politely – basically said, STFU. She reminded me that my perspective was subjective – others had it way worse than I did. And I should be grateful for what I did have. She was right.

Later Tuesday I also had to buy some cycling shorts and decided to try on some yoga pants.

I don’t own yoga pants. I don’t particularly like them. I don’t know what possessed me to try them on. But I did.

And as I did, I had to make peace with moving from the S-M size to the M-L size. Funny thing was, some of the M fit just fine and some of the L fit like I was a stuffed sausage. I realized it didn’t really fucking matter.

This body, with its extra pounds and fewer hairs is just fine. It’s pretty healthy. It does what I need it to do. It can still jump, run, bike, orgasm, laugh, cry, sleep, and meditate. What more do I really need?

::: ::: ::: :::

This year has been so much about owning my life. Accepting what is good about me, what is bad, all that I have come through and failed and accomplished. And now I need to accept my body, too. Right here, right now, as is. It’s a good body. And I am grateful to have it.

 

 

0