Archive | dark

A Most Intimate Act :: Change

[[ For the first time ever I am instituting a comment policy. This post contains things that plenty of people will find offensive, for good reason. It is in the public domain once I hit ‘publish’ and so I want to be clear about what kind of comments I am willing to entertain. Not that I get a lot- and I see them all before they are published- but this, again, may offend some folks. You are welcome to comment and ask me about my process or provide constructive criticism on my process, but I will not be publishing comments that are hateful towards me. I’ve had enough hate towards myself for what I did, I don’t need more. I also will not publish comments that commend me in some way- I’m not looking for that, and what I did was what any decent human being should be doing; I don’t need kudos for it. ]]

About a year ago I found out I was a TERF. That translates to “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist.” What it means is that I was a feminist who did not consider trans women (male -> female) as actual women. (Why this is a ‘radical’ position makes no sense to me, now that I am further down the road. It seems pretty un-radical. They have started calling TERFs “FARTS: Feminist-Appropriating Reactionary Transphobes” which is far more accurate.) And I was a TERF because I had one question, and it was this: “didn’t trans women benefit from all the good things about being seen as a male while also getting to have the space and freedom to look and act as women – and all the psychological benefits of that?” I was essentially asking, “don’t trans women get the best of both worlds without having to deal with the shit of either?”

The answer, of course, is no. Trans women are far more likely to be killed (especially trans women of color). Rather than having the benefits of the binary gender norms, they actually get the short end of the stick of both- neither men nor women accept them. Trans women are women, as I now understand. But they rarely get to be seen or treated that way.

I am not a trans educator (although I certainly sympathize and offer what support I can), so I don’t want to pretend to know everything. What I want to look at it what it took for me to change my understanding of this issue such that I could go from being an ignorant transphobe to being an educated trans supporter.

First and foremost, I changed because I was curios and I suspected that I was in the wrong. Or, at the very least, that I had something the wrong way around and I needed to understand it rather than remain ignorant. This, in fact, is a very vulnerable place to be and it is why change is a very intimate act. To say, if only to myself, that my ideas, position, or understanding of something might be wrong is a blow to the ego. It means we are imperfect, it means that our thinking or perspective may not be complete, and admitting that is a level of ego death. It is a psychologically frightening place to be, which is why a lot of people don’t go there.

After having the courage and awareness that I might be wrong, I had a safe place to go ask my questions. I was in a progressive women’s group on Facebook and I knew that I could ask my questions there and, even if I was seen as an idiot, I would be treated kindly and get a truthful answer. Perhaps because I am always after the truth it made it easier to look for and accept when they kindly said, “You’re wrong and here’s why.” The women in the group pointed me to articles about TERFs, explaining why they were not truly feminists. They connected me to trans and non-binary educators like Alok Vaid-Menon (who has some really beautiful things to say about men and their fear of themselves). Mostly they answered my questions without making me feel like an asshole. And because I didn’t feel like an asshole for being curious, I remained open to being wrong (which is when I truly felt like an asshole, once I understood it).

As I began to read things and listen to trans educators, I realized how wrong I had been. How little I had understood. How my privilege as a cis-gendered, white, middle-class woman had allowed me to choose blindness to the difficulties of trans women. Again, this took the ability to sit with my own psychological and emotional discomfort. I had to accept that I had been deeply wrong and purposefully ignorant- that’s a place where I seriously felt like an asshole, which isn’t fun to feel.

These are things most people don’t want to know about themselves, so they don’t do well with change. This is why change is such an intimate act- we must see parts of ourselves we do not like, do not wish to admit that we are. To see those things, to accept them, to choose to engage them and work on them- that’s big psychological work. It means we are getting down in the mud with the smallest, nastiest parts of ourselves and that’s hard work.

Once I was able to learn, understand, and sit with my discomfort I then had to let my new understanding lay the foundation for changing my feelings about it. Most of us make decisions from our feelings- despite what we might like to believe. You only need to look at the last American presidential election to see this at play- folks voted for someone they felt good about, even if he was obviously a liar and incapable of performing the job. The facts there were clear, but people were lead by their feelings. So, when it comes to change, you know it hasn’t happened if people still feel the same as they did before, even if they ‘understand’ things differently. As stated, this was the next step in my development- I let what I read and understood about trans women begin sway my feelings about them, their lives, and their place in feminism. This is also psychological work; work that a lot of people don’t want to do.

Of course, I came around to understanding that trans women are women and changing my feelings about them. I feel far less hard-hearted and defensive about trans women now. I welcome them into the feminist fold and I’m keeping an eye out to make sure they feel welcome wherever I am. I am glad to have a new understanding and to feel differently about trans women. [And I don’t want any kudos or applause for this; I did what any decent human being should do.]

Again, having said all this, change is really hard and very intimate. In order to change we must have safe places where it’s okay to be ignorant or ask stupid questions. We also have to grapple with our feelings and possibly change them when we’re given credible, new information. We have to entertain the possibility that we might be wrong. It’s very tricky and uncomfortable territory. So, when we hope that people will change, we might need to think about these factors. People are likely not going to change because they get yelled at in social media. They are likely not going to change because they have been given some well-researched articles (although this can help break some of the ground loose, sometimes). People are going to change when they can consider that maybe they’ve been wrong. People are going to change when they have places to ask questions that don’t make them feel like idiots or assholes. People are going to change when they begin to feel that they need to or when who they believe themselves to be no longer matches up with what they believe.

 

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

 

In the last couple of weeks, as I’ve learned to practice surrendering and letting go, over and over, I have been given a lot of grace and insight about my life. I’ve discovered some not pleasant things. Part of what I’ve been given is the space to see these unpleasant things and also the space to let myself imagine what might come next, what might be better, what might help me live as a better, more authentic person. Because I’ve not been in a great place for the last 14 months or so, and it’s worn me down to a point where I see that I need to change (the deliberate letting go is a good thing, and necessary to my health and growth). When I look at it objectively, it’s a lot of small changes in many places- a come-uppance. But I think it’s going to feel like a major overhaul, so I’m getting anxious about it. I’ve learned that I probably don’t need to share 100% of my thoughts and emotions about it all here, but if anything useful comes of these changes, I will share about it. If I can alleviate any suffering by sharing my wisdom, I am happy to do so.

Change isn’t always something we get a choice about. A lot of people had to change today because Life gave them some shitty news. I am lucky in that the changes I am about to grapple with are of my own choosing. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be any less impactful or intimate. Earlier today I sat on the couch at a friend’s house and looked at the full moon shining on the water. I felt the most surrendered, sad, and soft that I have in a long time (I had yet another good cry). And that’s due to the tenderizing I’ve received in the last couple of weeks. But it’s from that soft, intimate place that I feel most confident about making the changes I need to make.

I hope you’re well, fellow travelers. I hope you’re able to make changes, rather than having them forced on you. And I hope that you will take every chance you get to change yourself for the better. 

With love and gratitude,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

2

2018: Growth and Gratitude

I don’t think I’ve ever written an ‘End of Year’ post here. Or, if I have, it’s been a long time. In any case, I feel like writing one today, so here we are.

Some years I have been very into reviewing the past year and making big plans for the coming year. In years past I have also picked a Song for the Year (although, wow- looks like I did that once– ha!). Last year I simply wanted to read 3 books a month and keep up with my bullet journal. I read 18 books total and kept up with my bullet journal about 60% of the time. I’m actually not disappointed with those results, because this last year felt like a baseline year, but I want to do better this year.

This year, I want to keep up with my bullet journal, read 20+ books (which I’ve actually listed out in the hopes it will keep me on track), but I’m also adding picking a word for the year, and keeping a section in my bullet journal for a gratitude practice. I’ve struggled with gratitude in the past, so it’s kind of weird to be into it now, but I think it’s time for me to expand my heart and spirit in this direction.

[[I’m still super in love with The Little Paris Bookshop. I find myself reading it very slowly. There are gems like this everywhere: 

“Not get over it, but…then? What then? What task do the departed want us to do?”

That was the question that Jean Perdu had been unable to answer for all these years.

Until now. Now he knew.

“To carry them with us- that is our task. We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves. Only they make us whole again. If we begin to forget or cast aside those we’ve lost then…then we are no longer present, either.” …

“All the love, all the dead, all the people we’ve known. They are the rivers that feed our sea of souls. If we refuse to remember them, that sea will dry up, too.”

I love all the men in this book; they are so honest with themselves.]]

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

To start that, I wanted to look at the things I’m grateful for from this year. And also where I’ve grown- because that’s my favorite thing.

We spent our first full year in our new house this year. I love this house. I finally feel truly at home in this particular pile of sticks (it’s a really nice, comfy pile).

We got a dog. I love her.

My family and I travelled to Paris for the first time ever (well, it was the first time for me and my kids). I wrote about it here and here. It was one of the most thrilling adventures of my life. (I want to go back!)

I have been struggling with my hypothyroidism symptoms for two years and I really dug into my own fat phobia and fat shame (even though it was just 15 lbs- it was uncomfortable) and learned some new things about my self and my self-esteem and social conditioning. It’s hard to shake off, but I’m working on it.

On the flip side, I started a new supplement that makes my thyroid meds work the way they should, so my hair is growing again, my nails are growing, and I’ve lost enough weight to actually fit into my pants- even my favorite skinny jeans! The irony and ‘once you let go of it, you’ll get all you want’ energy is not lost on me.

After last week, I’m full of gratitude for simply being upright and breathing.

I’m truly grateful for my partnership and my partner. We have what a lot of people crave- and we work to make it great, it’s not just luck. And I’m just grateful for him and how we make it work.

I’m truly grateful for my kids and how much joy they bring to my life. They are amazing humans and I’m glad these particular souls are the ones I was given to parent.

I’m grateful for all the struggles I’ve had this year. I’ve learned a lot.

It’s been fun to start playing with magic and spells this year. (You may or may not know: I’m a witch.) As one of my teachers notes: you learn something new every time and I’m stumbling towards greater understanding and capacity.

I’m also very grateful that I have been given the chance to fight for some things that are very important to me and to fight to stop things that are morally and spiritually repugnant. I’m trying to use my privilege to make the world a better place- and this has been weird and uncomfortable, but also a good practice.

 

We travel ever upwards (we hope).

Photo by Reid Zura on Unsplash

 

The other side of this year has been about growth. Growth, in my experience, is about the places where we cry, gnash our teeth, surrender to reality, and then we learn to behave in new ways. Better boundaries, clearer goals, letting go, and the like. It’s the hard work that our hearts and souls demand of us.

I got some very clear guidance a month ago about what’s next for me:

  • Telling the whole truth, instead of just doling out pieces of it.
  • Limiting connections to folks who are on my level (or will at least try to get there).
  • Continuing to be passionate and fearless and letting go of those who don’t want to run with me.

These are the things I’m taking into 2019 with me, the new ways in which I will behave. I also learned some other things, too.

One of the biggest lessons for me this year is that I’m probably going to be attracted to other people at various points in my life. For the first 22 years of knowing my husband, I was never attracted to anyone else. But then, the Sex Surge happened, and I’ve been attracted to two other people. One of the clearest things I know from all this is that it’s probably going to happen again, and how I handle it is the most important question. Do I want to destroy my marriage for a crush or somebody who is cute or intelligent or interesting? Nope. Not a bit. So, I proceed with that end in mind. Having a crush or a sexual attraction to someone else isn’t going to kill the great thing I’ve got with my husband; I know that now. But I also need to be mindful of my needs and what lines are crossable/not crossable and to enjoy the gifts of relationship and attraction.

Related: sexual energy does not need to be coupled to sexual expression. I am reminded of this constantly. Sexual energy – libido, turn on – is simply the most heightened aliveness there is. It isn’t required to be expressed in any sexual way- there are a thousand creative and joyful ways to live it out besides with your clitoris/penis. It can simply shine straight out from your heart.

I also figured out something a couple of days ago that I’ve been struggling with for a bit. Bear with me- this is one of things where the puzzle pieces came together in my mind but I might not always write clearly about it. Nevertheless, I will try.

There has been a lot in my social media feeds the last couple of weeks about soulmates and woundmates and such things. I’m not a big believer in soulmates, but I am a 185% believer in soul work. Soul work is the work that we are called to do, in our heart or soul, because of an interaction with or attraction to someone else. I’ve been dealing with this kind of connection for more than a year- can’t quite connect, can’t fully let go (or be let go of, in this case). And as I was thinking about this a couple days ago, I asked myself: what do I know about this already? The answers were clear and also interwove with each other to create a new level of understanding for me.

First, I know that the kind of push-pull attraction that can’t let go is always about something else. I bolded, underlined, and italicized that for a reason. Sexual attraction is the easiest doorway for connection so that people can come together and do whatever work it is their soul is asking for. Especially if it’s a connection that can’t seem to resolve one way or another. The attraction is the big door that they need to go through, the sexual nature of it is the neon arrow that flashes and points towards the door, drawing them in. If the attraction brings them to connection, it’s done its job and they will walk through the door to the work they need to do.

Second, I was reminded that there are a 1000 steps between attraction and fucking.  What that means in this case is that people can be attracted in that “can’t let go” kind of way, but there are many levels at which to connect. Let’s look at them in these categories: talk, touch, kiss, fuck.

If there is soul work and it’s being brought out by attraction that won’t quit, you have to interactyou have go to through the door to figure out what the work is. But you don’t have to give in to the depth of desire; you can simply talk with the person. Talking is difficult, in some ways, because you’ve got to keep your desire in check. It’s also difficult because you’ve got to be as honest as you can possibly be – but telling the truth based on attraction is usually a big leap. (Not for me, honestly- I crave to both tell the truth and be told the truth by others.) Most people would rather slip into the ease of sex than talk about what’s going on between them. You have to ask big questions and be totally honest with yourself and the other person: Why are you attracted? What makes it difficult to let go? What do you want from a connection? If we did X, what would that do for you? As you reveal the answers, the work you’re supposed to do for soul growth becomes clear- it shows you an old wound that needs healing, it shows you a further step you need to take, etc. And, of course, talking is the most spiritually and emotionally clean option, so it’s sort of easier in that way.

Then, there’s touch. If the sexual attraction is strong enough, touching can sometimes tell you a lot. What happens when you touch? Does the desire dissipate or shift in some way? Do you have any kind of visions or memories? What does your body do? What feelings run through you? You have to be very mindful and attentive to what happens in your body if you go this route, but it can yield a huge amount of information about the work you need to do for your soul. If you add talking to the mix, you’re probably going to hit the target very quickly and figure out why you’ve been connected to this person.

Next is kissing. This level of interaction is where the emotional entanglements can lead us astray from the work we have to do, but the intensity of connection can give us much deeper information about what’s going on in the desire for connection. You have to really ground yourself in awareness and attentiveness if you take this route. You have to ask all the above questions, plus things like, “Did I feel relief in kissing them? Was it a relief of sexual tension or a relief like coming home?” What did I see in my minds eye when we kissed? What happened in my body? What memories arose? You need to be able to disentangle the sexually related feelings from the emotional lessons it brings up. Of course, kissing is so much more fun than just talking or touching, but it’s also more dangerous if you’re not careful or not with someone who knows how to handle the energy and what develops.

Lastly, of course, is having sex. Most definitely, this is the easiest (and probably most desired) option for people who feel pulled to each other. It’s very pleasurable. It doesn’t require much thought or trust- you just give into the feelings and desires. (I find it incredibly interesting that it’s easier to have sex than it is to talk when we’re in these kind of soul-attraction relationships. I think that says a lot about our humanity and how comfortable we feel with sharing our souls; we’d rather share our bodies.) Of course, having sex dissipates a lot of the sexual desire and tension, but it also entangles us emotionally and energetically in ways that might make it more difficult to find the nature of the soul work the two people need to do. Again, mindfulness and self-awareness are key. That said, I believe that sometimes this is exactly the right choice- there is no other way to find the work that you’re being asked to do.

I figured these things about because I got very close to being able to talk to the person I have this kind of connection with. It super sucks that I’m not going to be able to have the talk, because that only leaves “figuring it out on my own” as my way to deal with this. Of course, figuring it out on your own is also totally viable, but it takes a lot more work and it often takes a lot longer. Growth junkie that I am, it’s what I’ve got, so I’m using it. Because one thing I also learned this year is that when people say ‘no’ to connecting or interacting, you let them be. Not everyone wants to learn or help their soul heal or grow, and that’s their decision.

The coolest thing about figuring this out is that I can be totally fearless the next time I’m attracted to someone. I know that attraction is just the doorway for the work. And I can decide what level of interaction to ask for. I am wise and attentive and aware and so I’ll gain a lot from whatever way the other person and I connect. Because I understand how it works, I can walk into it with more clarity and skill and openness (and less attachment, hopefully). It feels really grounding to have previous lessons come together like this and help me understand how to handle these kinds of attractions in the future. Even if I don’t get to have my conversation, I get to have this understanding and that’s so awesome it kind of makes me cry.

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

This year has given me a lot- a lot of grief and struggle, a lot of growth and grace. I’m grateful. I don’t have many plans for 2019- except as listed above. I think Life is enough of an adventure on its own, I don’t need to go looking for much new! exciting! stuff. And I don’t need to set high expectations for myself anymore (I’m sort of over that).

Fellow travelers, I hope that you’re finding useful lessons in your life – this year, this month, always. I hope that the lessons your soul seeks come to you with grace and desire and fun rather than the spiritual equivalent of being whacked upside the head with a 2×4. We all have things to learn and trials to bear- remember not to compare your miseries with another’s. I hope that, whatever it is you have to learn, you are given an equal measure of joy. And I hope you strive to become ever more your self.

I will leave you with another excerpt from The Little Paris Bookshop because I think it is so fitting:

“On the postcard Perdu wrote Catherine that night were the phrases Max had invented that afternoon so he could present them to Samy at dinner…

Star salt (the stars’ reflection in a river)
Sun cradle (the sea)
Lemon kiss (every knew exactly what this meant!)
Family anchor (the dinner table)
Heart notcher (your first lover)
Veil of time (you spin around in the sandpit to find you are old enough to wet your pants when you laugh)
Dreamside
Wishableness

The last word was Samy’s new favorite. “We all live in wishableness,” she said. “Each in a different kind.”

Big love and happy New Year’s Eve,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

0

Solstice + Full Moon

Let me tell you a story about what it looks like when the energies of the year and the planets (and moons) hit people who are sensitive to them. It’s about the Winter Solstice today, the darkest day of the year, and the full moon that is happening on the same day. The dark and the light.

Yesterday was a shit show for me. The perfect storm of difficulties.

I am on meds that mess with my HPA axis and so I have been dealing with excess cortisol (by ‘excess’ I mean my body is being constantly flooded with cortisol. It makes me feel anxious, tired, scritchy, and I don’t sleep very well. This is not great for my attitude.)

I am prepping for the holidays. Anyone will tell you this is stressful, even as it’s fun.

PMS. (Enough said.)

We are getting our rescue dog tomorrow, which is also joyful-stressful.
(Oh, my god, she’s so cute!)

I engaged with the idiots. (I am forever trying to point out, “Hey, your life could be better if you’d stop X.” Surprisingly, it never works. <– That’s a joke. I gotta learn to stop; it’s a huge energy drain.)

Not enough meditation.

Not enough sleep.

Desire without grounding.

Not enough sensual practice.

That’s the dark. That’s the Solstice part. This day of the year is the day with the most dark, the least daylight, of the year. It’s a time when we turn inward, towards what is deeper in our hearts and minds. We all know that our internal landscape differs from year to year (and day to day). But this day is also for celebrating the darkness inside ourselves. I am particularly fond of this practice, but when it feels chaotic, like yesterday, it’s harder to want to turn inwards and connect with it all. At the end of yesterday, I thought “What the fuck is wrong with me?!?” Which is always a good way to know I’m looking at my darkness- the behaviors that make me wonder who I am, because they don’t fit the picture I have of myself.

 

Photo by Rose Elena on Unsplash

 

On the flip side is the full moon. Although, maybe it’s not the flip side. The full moon illuminates our lives- shows us what’s working and what isn’t. It is a place to see clearly into our deeper emotions, desires, needs, and fears. Again, sometimes this is beautiful and sometimes it’s not. It can also be the phase of fruition, or a reminder of our fullness.

I tend to get a little ‘buzzy’ around the full moon. My energy is heightened and I feel a little jolt of electricity all over – although, with the cortisol, who could tell the difference? Because of the dark, though, the moon is shining her light on where and how I understand my darkness and how I make use of it.

After the shit show of events yesterday, I meditated for an hour. It was very grounding. (There’s an old adage that says, “If you can meditate for 30 minutes, do that. If you can’t meditate for 30 minutes, meditate for an hour.” Meaning, if you can’t find the time to meditate, you probably need it worse. It’s true.)

I had a good cry. The kind that opens your heart.

I read something really beautiful about blow jobs and it helped me understand why I enjoy giving them so much.* (I’ll share it later, it really resonated for me.)

I watched The Sound of Music and the song, “My Favorite Things” reminded me that I’m most satisfied and grounded when I’m in my sensual practices. I made space for them last night.

A friend reminded me that I have no understanding of the magic that is retail scheduling, so maybe I should just chill.

I turned back towards a practice I found useful in the Sex Surge- to notice the difference between a superficial want -to see someone NOW- and my deeper desire -for connection and communication. When I connect with the deeper desire, the ego is less involved, and I can be far more patient. (The person I’m trying to connect with was also kind enough to stop by and let me know they are still there. It was noticed and appreciated.)

Enjoyed some super….slow…sex. Super slow. Squeezing every little bit of pleasure out of each movement and connection and it really helped me get back in the wholeness of myself- not just my mind, not just my body, but the fully connected whole.

The light of the full moon showed me what was and wasn’t working, what I needed to get back to, and that there was still a fullness inside my self that I could turn to, believe in, and use to support myself. My sensual practices, my delight in sex, the feeling of when I am fully in my body (not just my head!) all helped me to recover a sense of myself. That’s not to say there isn’t work to do on some of my dark spots- engaging with the idiots, lack of meditation, superficial wants- but that turning back towards my light gives me the strength and support to work on my darkness.

Certainly, this is the essence of the Solstice- to be drawn inwards, to see the dark, but also to find comfort and warmth and connection such that we can deal with the darkness. There is a reason these ‘festivals of light’ happen at this time of year- it is to remind us that we are in the dark, but that the light still exists. It will probably still take me a few days to get back on top of myself, but that’s also the beauty of the Solstice and the full moon- the energy lasts for a few days; it gives us time to work with things.

Tonight we will be having our Solstice meal by candlelight and exchanging handmade gifts and finding gratitude for this darkest day of the year. I hope you find your dark and your light on this Solstice + full moon night, too, fellow travelers.

Big love from the inside of the mess,
Joanna :: xoxo

* If you read any of my posts and think, “OMG, a woman who likes sex and blow jobs!” and you think friending me on Facebook is a good idea, let me just say: nope. I don’t accept friend requests from dudes I don’t personally know. But also: I talk about these things not to excite men, but because I believe ALL women should be able to talk about their sexual needs, likes, dislikes, preferences, expression, etc. – and not have it be a big fucking deal. I (or any woman) should be able to say, “Jeeze, I really need an orgasm today,” in line at Starbucks and not have people laugh, cringe, or freak out. I talk openly about my sexuality because more women need to do it so it’s fucking normalized. If women don’t feel safe talking about their sexual needs in front of you, you might wanna ask yourself why. Also: I have a husband and he’s the only one getting any of that action from me for the foreseeable future (because safety). If you wanna talk to me, there is a contact form and an email address available to you.

 

 

0

Your True Colors

Today my heart is feeling like this song:

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
Its hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow

Show me a smile then
Don’t be unhappy, can’t remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there

And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow

If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there

And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors

True colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow 

| True Colors by  Cyndi Lauper |

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

Today I’m thinking of the heartbroken, the grieving, those who have lost friends or family to suicide, those who are figuring out their marriages and relationships aren’t working, those who are remembering lost friends, those who wish they could reach out (you can, and you should try), those who are wondering, those who are hurting, those who are wrestling with the old question (again).

One of the things I know I am here on Earth to do is heal people. I have always fallen for the beauty inside of the broken. Things and people that are broken have always made my heart open wider. It is inside the compassion that I find it easy to reach out, to stay, to hold the battered and bloody hearts and souls. So, I heal people by loving them, accepting them, and helping them see the truth about themselves- both where they are and where they want to be, who they want to be. And I help them get there.

Today I’m thinking of those who are sitting in their brokenness, feeling consumed by it, or just feeling the hard edges of it (whatever it is that makes them uncomfortable). Know that I see you. Know that you are loved. Know that you deserve what your heart wishes for. Know that you are worthy. I’m thinking of you today and wishing you healing.

Big love, always,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

0

Happy New Year’s Eve!

It’s Halloween, or Samhain (please, say “sow-in”- that’s how it’s pronounced in the original Gaelic), and it marks the end of the year for pagans.

I haven’t danced much this year in the new house, I realized today as I was struck by a song on the radio and stood there, still and calm. It was “Breathe (2 AM)” by Anna Nalick and I closed my eyes as I listened. The sun came out and I turned towards it and felt the heat on my face and how it looks like your eye lids are all lit up when the sun comes through them while your eyes are closed. I was not dancing, but it was magic nonetheless.

When the song was done, I went to meditate. I lit the candles and got the sage smoking (that’s not a euphemism) and prayed to my ancestors. Both sets of great grandparents, now long dead. My Papa, who died a few years ago, but it still feels like I saw him last week. And to a newly dead great uncle- a very loving man who raised very loving sons and made the world a better place with his smile and corny jokes. The veil being thin this time of year, I thanked them for how their lives brought me forth and for the ways in which their spirits guide me every day.

I thought about the year past. Mostly it was difficult things I thought of. How I felt ridiculous and immature and incapable and not ready for so many things that happened. But also how I felt glad that I’d taken risks and been stupid and learned things about myself and my life and what I want to be and become.

That is probably what I like best about this ‘end of year’ versus the traditional New Year’s Eve: we recognize and celebrate the darkness in ourselves. We let it out to play. The part of us that might murder, the vengeful place inside our hearts, the seductress, the cruel one, the clown, the dead parts of ourselves- they all come out as Halloween costumes and we celebrate them. We reward them with candy, even! I think it’s incredibly valuable to recognize these parts of ourselves during this celebration and love them up, because magic doesn’t come from being good, it comes from being whole.

So, I sat at my altar and felt all the things: how feeling ridiculous is exactly like when I hit my funny bone in my elbow, but spread throughout my whole body. How I’d given bits of myself away and began calling them back. How it felt to remember things from long ago- painful things- and letting my heart hurt again. Regret. Regret sits like a mask atop my eyes but also drops down into my heart. I’m glad to have regret instead of wondering, even if it does feel like a weight. The various other feelings that needed space to be recognized and felt stopped by, too. It was sort of an ego death* parade.

I also took a few moments to send good wishes to those who had helped me in some way this past year- helped me learn, grow, understand. Even those who helped me feel regret or ridiculous- because they helped me know myself better.

And then I asked my ancestors to speak to me. The veil between the worlds is thin today and the next few days, so I believe their energy and messages come through to us living folks more easily, if we are open to them.

After it was all done, I took a very long, very hot shower. Not as a means of cleansing, but as a way of stewing in all of those things I felt. Today isn’t the day for getting all pretty and clean and free- it’s the day to recognize how dirty and broken and deliciously fucked up we are, and celebrate it anyway.

It turned out that the song I listened to was exactly right for today. “Just breathe,” she sings. Whatever comes, we accept it. And we breathe. Today I let all the ugly come up, watched the year march through me, and accepted all of it. Tonight I will celebrate it.

Much love to you, fellow travelers. I hope your Halloween is full of fright and fun- and I hope you get to be yourself, your whole self.

Joanna :: xoxo

 

Photo by Kento Iemoto on Unsplash

 

* Ego death is not what Jason Silva talks about on Facebook. Ego death is when we realize that something we’ve been attached to or believed strongly in (usually something that defines us) is either not true (as in, it’s actually a lie) or is no longer true for us. Examples:

  • I am a good person.
  • My marriage is safe.
  • There is a heaven.
  • I can have what I want.
  • I’m not broken.
  • I have a long life ahead of me.
  • God is only masculine.
  • If I am good, I will get what I want.

When we have an ego death, it’s a usually a horrible surprise: something we didn’t expect to be true, is. And it shocks us into a new reality. A reality where what we wanted or needed to believe is clearly no longer true. The part of our ego that was attached to that, that really, really wanted it to be true, has to die in that moment of understanding. So, ego death is the shock that opens us up to greater truth (even, probably especially, when we don’t like it or want it). It’s an incredibly valuable process. It’s better to seek it out than avoid it, if you ask me.

 

 

0