Archive | light

twelve twelve twelve

Five years ago today I asked two friends to help me with a project. Twelve is my favorite number and I wanted to do something really special for 12/12/12. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I asked an artist friend to paint me. I wanted to celebrate myself, my body, my spirit, and do something different. It was a wonderful day, and made me feel both empowered and magical.

Looking back now, I realize it was my first step into the discovery of my sensual self.

 

My friend, Natasha from Zen Bubble, was the artist.

 

The finished product. Pre snake tattoo.

 

I finally made peace with my post-pregnancy belly with this lotus and waves.
[My deltoid and bicep are my favorite part of this photo, though.]

 

This is probably my favorite photo of the whole shoot.
Maybe this was the start of The Naked Mystic, too.

 

 

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dance and divination

I sat down at my altar today (well, yesterday, now that it’s past midnight) and bawled. I’m in the middle of something- trying to decide the eternal question: in the midst of what appears to be no change, do I keep pushing for what I want, or accept that the Universe is telling me ‘no’ ?

I hate this fucking question. Especially because, with this particular experience, I’ve never taken so many risks to get what I want. I’m not a risk-taker; this whole thing has made me grow in uncomfortable ways. I ask for very little in this world- I usually take what’s handed to me and make the best of it; but this I want and this I asked for. And with each step forward on my part, I can’t tell if it’s getting better or worse. Hope makes me blind. And that is why I sat at my altar and cried today.

If you can’t sit at your altar and cry, you need to get a better sacred space or a better path. Our sacred space is the container for all of our humanity. (I think there might be a bigger series on this I want to write…stay tuned.) My humanity needed guidance and nourishment after the cry, so I turned to my iPod oracle. I held it in my hands, looked at its pixelated face, and said, “tell me where I am and what to do.” (This is one of my languages for God.)

These three songs came on. My divine dance practice brought me to a new place.

 

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

 

I.  Breezeblocks | Alt-J

She may contain the urge to run away
But hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
Citrezene your fever’s gripped me again
Never kisses all you ever send are fullstops, la la la la

Do you know where the wilds things go
They go along to take your honey, la la la la
Break down now weep build up breakfast now
Let’s eat my love my love love love, la la la la

Muscle to muscle and toe to toe
The fear has gripped me but here I go
My heart sinks as I jump up
Your hand grips hand as my eyes shut
Ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah, ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah

Do you know where the wild things go
They go along to take your honey, la la la la
Break down let’s sleep build up breakfast now
Let’s eat my love my love love love, la la la la

She bruises coughs she splutters pistol shots
But hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
She’s morphine queen of my vaccine my love my love love love, la la la la

Muscle to muscle and toe to toe
The fear has gripped me but here I go
My heart sinks as I jump up
Your hand grips hand as my eyes shut
And ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah, ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah
Ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah, ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah

She may contain the urge to runaway
But hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
Germaline disinfect the scene my love my love love love

But please don’t go I love you so my lovely
Please don’t go, please don’t go, I love you so, I love you so
Please don’t go, please don’t go, I love you so, I love you so
Please break my heart, hey

Please don’t go, please don’t go, I love you so, I love you so
Please don’t go, please don’t go, I love you so, I love you so
Please break my heart, ah ha

Please don’t go, I’ll eat you whole
I love you so, I love you, so I love you so
Please don’t go I’ll eat you whole
I love you so, I love you so, I love you so, I love you so

[ feel free to watch the video so you can hear the song, but the video and the lyrics do not hold the same meaning, even by the group’s account.]

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

I am probably the only person over 40 who likes alt-J. Whatever. Their word play makes my brain so very happy. I started out feeling sad when this song came on because it’s about not being able to let go. Seeing and feeling the picture of the universe as this song played- I believe it means there is more to what I am hoping for. That I should stay and let the energy continue on. I don’t want to go, in my deepest heart of hearts. Not yet. But maybe that’s what I have to learn anyhow- the spinning out and the spinning back in until I’m ready to let go.

There will come a time when I need to let go- if nothing happens, nothing moves forward. I’m getting better at detecting when that is, taking less time to suffer as I make that decision (I’m finally learning!). But it’s not today for this particular experience.

 

 

II. Trip Through Your Wires | U2

In the distance, she saw me comin’ round
I was callin’ out, I was callin’ out.
Still shakin’, still in pain
You put me back together again.
I was cold and you clothed me, honey
I was down, and you lifted me, honey.

Angel, angel or devil?
I was thirsty
And you wet my lips.
You, I’m waiting for you
You, you set my desire
I trip through your wires.

I was broken, bent out of shape
I was naked in the clothes you made.
Lips were dry, throat like rust
You gave me shelter from the heat and the dust.
No more water in the well
No more water, water.

Angel, angel or devil?
I was thirsty
And you wet my lips.
You, I’m waiting for you
You, you set my desire
I trip through your wires.

Oh I need, oh I need
Oh I need, oh I need it.
Oh I need, oh I need
All I need, yeah, yeah!

Thunder, thunder on the mountain
There’s a raincloud
In the desert sky.
In the distance
She saw me comin’ round
I was callin’ out
I was callin’ out.

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

As I danced this song, also a surprise, the right side of my body, the masculine side, was full of navy blue energy. Proper, correct, organized, logical. And the left side of my body, the feminine side, was full of aliveness- blood veins and vessels in all their pink, red, pulsing glory. Who is the angel? Who the devil? Neither; they don’t oppose each other anymore, at least not in this body. I’ve tasted what I want, a thirst is being quenched, and I want more. I’ll gladly trip through these wires.

 

 

 

III. Beautiful | Mali Music

It’s a blessing to see people
With their heads up to the sky still
‘Cause honestly for the same people
Life can be so real
I’m amazed by all your strength, I am
And I’m grateful you come through yeah, yeah
So I take this time to stop a moment
And show my gratitude
For you I

I put my lighter in the air for you
I see whatch’u doing, yeah I see whatch’u go through
Put my lighter in the air, the truth is you’re beautiful, beautiful
Now put your lighter in the air for us,
Everybody singin’ together, sing a new song
Put your lighter in the air for love is beautiful, beautiful

Many mighty ships are sinking
Many stars are falling down
And I count it as a blessing
That you hold me up now

I can tell that you’ve been praying
My whole life has turned around, yeah yeah
And I can’t go without saying
That I thank God for you all now
Eh, for you I

I put my lighter in the air for you
I see whatch’u doing, yeah I see whatch’u go through
Put my lighter in the air, the truth is you’re beautiful, beautiful

Now put your lighter in the air for us,
Everybody singin’ together, sing a new song
Put your lighter in the air for love is beautiful, beautiful

Let me hear you say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)
Say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)

Let me hear you say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)
Say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)

I put my lighter in the air for you
I see whatch’u doing, yeah I see whatch’u go through
Put my lighter in the air, the truth is you’re beautiful, beautiful

Now put your lighter in the air for us,
Everybody singin’ together, sing a new song
Put your lighter in the air for love is beautiful, beautiful

Let me hear you say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)
Say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)

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

So much to trust with my intuition today. The gray showed itself first- and I had to remember that the gray is where anything can happen. The gray is potential. A sliver of orange appeared next. I asked, “what orange is this?” Was it the orange of my altar candle flame? The orange of a sunset? No, it’s the orange of fire embers, Life said. And then the blue of his eyes. I have seen two blues- the clear, sharp, open blue that is like the sky in the summer and the steeled, darker blue- like denim or the Pacific ocean- when he is angered or disgusted. This was the clear blue. I don’t know what it all means, but it felt open and free and I felt happy. I hope it means there is a new song to sing.

As if to convince me further, the iPod then queued up 99 Luftballoons in the original German. A joke only my iPod and I would get. Yes, I get what you’re saying, Life.

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

Ya’ll, I don’t know what the fuck will happen (who does?). I’ve no clear sense of what my intuition and spirit are guiding me towards. But I know that I want to hope. That might be due to my personality- it always hopes for the best. But I also hope this oracle and the images are telling me to stay the course. I tried to let go today and found out I’d rather have the pain of a small connection than the pain of lost connection. Maybe this is all just confirmation of that understanding. I don’t know. But I know I’m not ready to leave it behind yet.

G’night, fellow travelers.
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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fear nothing.

Just a reminder, beloveds:

You are a ghost
driving a meat-coated skeleton
made from stardust,
riding a rock,
hurtling through space.

Fear nothing.

 

All my love from the road,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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I Waited 26 Years for This Fantasy to Come True

Yes. Sometimes anticipation can be fantastic, and sometimes anticipation can be a bitch.

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

My entire dating life, I was never asked out. Except Paul in Junior High who asked me to go out via a Hangman game. But otherwise, I was a self-made woman in the dating department.

From the age of 15, when I really, really liked Christopher (the tall, blonde runner) I started asking guys out. I distinctly remember hearing about women doing that- asking men out- on the radio or TV at that time (~1990 or so) and thinking, ‘that is a great way to get what you want instead of waiting.’ Because waiting for 15 year-old boys to ask you out was often a long game.

So, fuck that. I figured out that as long as I could handle the worst outcome (a ‘no,’ maybe even a rude ‘no’) I would be fine.

I asked dudes out.
It went great!
I went out more and got what I wanted- dates. And kisses and allthegoodthings.
And dudes readily confessed that they liked being asked out- had been hoping I’d do such a thing.
[Ego boost is always nice.]

But there was always a little part of me that wanted to be asked out.
Of course there is a part in each of us that wants to be chosen.
To be sought out because of who we are.
To be deemed ‘special’ and ‘worthy.’
[This is a bit of a problem for women, as we are asked to constantly judge our worth by whether someone wants us or not. Separating that honest human desire from social conditioning can be tough.]

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

Cut to last year, I’m 41, happily married for 18 years, together for 20. My husband and I went to our local town’s “Grown Ass Prom” the previous year and were planning to go again that next year.

My husband, who didn’t ask me out when we dated- but worked hard to chase me down one afternoon at a tattoo shop after work!- knew that I wanted to be asked out. It was a dream I shared with him several times over the years, and he was always kind about it.

A few months before the prom, we were making dinner one night and chatting, there was a lull in the conversation and he did the sweetest thing: he grabbed me by the hand, pulled me close as if to kiss me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Would you go to the prom with me?”

I did not need a ‘prom-posal.’
I just needed those simple words. That 8 word question.
What a thing it was to be asked.
Even after 20 years, twenty years of so much asking for so many things, he asked me to the prom.
It was just what I wanted.

I waited 26 years for that fantasy to come true.
And it was so fantastic, I cannot even tell you.
There were no teenage worries, no fear.
Only love and support and a desire for fun.
I soaked in every bit of it- pulled all the details into my heart to remember them.

The guy I wanted most asked me to the prom, you guys!!
Fireworks, inner squealing, jumping with joy- it all happened.
It was so worth the wait.

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

We went for the third year again last night. Below are the pictures of that night from the second year (me, because I looked fabulous). We had such a blast.

Meriwether in leather.

 

All the details in place.

 

We fulfilled every ‘prom’ fantasy we ever had that night. I got my hair done in a faux hawk; nails and toes, too. We didn’t see each other before the final reveal moment. We wowed the crowd at the restaurant and on the dance floor.

 

Official prom photo.

Yes, my husband wears eyeliner. He went in an ‘Adam Ant’ outfit and he looked fabulous. Do you know what kind of balls it takes to pull that off? You gotta be real secure in your sense of self to do that. You have to know who you are. My man is fearless. Which is why I love him so. Even as I write this, it turns me on. We’d do anything to support each other- and we do.

 

The morning after.

Our prom night fantasy ended the way it should- with my dress on the floor next to our bed. A good time was had by all.

 

 

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On grief.

A few months back, I was asked to help a friend create a ceremony to bring her grief ‘home.’ (For those of you who know her, I received permission to share her story.) Her mother had passed in the last few weeks, but in a different part of the country. Her life was here now, in Rhode Island, and she needed a way to bring that grief home, she told me.

I have performed very few memorial services. Usually when someone dies, we seek the familiar, so the old church, whatever it may be, is where we turn. But this was not a memorial service, per se. It was not a way to remember a person, or commune in shared grief, or to connect as a tool to banish grief, but a way to bring grief home, to live with it- to bring it to those who love my friend, so that they could know her better and support her. And that is such a different perspective than most of us take on grief.

Grief is a tricky thing. We have those models, the Stages of Grief, but very few things work as the model suggests, most definitely grief (and if you’ve ever had an amazing design idea at IKEA and tried to make it work at home, you know of what I speak). Grief is a lonely walk, so often, because we see the person, the life, the choices, so differently from anyone else. And this doesn’t only apply to the death of people- it is equally true for the death of relationships, jobs, the ways we see ourselves. Grief, in a counterintuitive way, sprouts anew each time, different flowers from the same root.

For me, grief has been best described by symbols.

There is the initial grief that is like an Egyptian pyramid. A sacred, dark place, vast. It is beautiful- full of gold, memories, resources, things we can actually touch and see and smell. Even when it is cold, the darkness of the passageways of grief has a weight that I welcome. I have walked in the tunnels, admiring all of it, touching the walls, running the fabric of memory through my fingers, even as I knew that it was dead. The warmth of the gold was only because I stood near it, only because my fire gave it light. All of it was dead, even if it was so beautiful that I would be happy to live there forever on some days.

When I think of grief I am reminded that it is not just for dead things that we grieve. It is for what is lost- even if that job, that person, that idea lives on. The connection is lost or radically changed and we grieve for that. Sometimes we cannot let go, even though we know we must. The spiritual practice of grief is opening our grip, by tiny degrees, until our hand is free to move again. We cry and rage and gnash, but eventually, we must let go, or we will die, too. (But also, take your time. That’s the only way to do it.)

As I have accepted the death of things, the way they would never return to ‘normal,’ grief has been a garden of the dead, dead flowers and trellis’ and sculpted hedgerows. Some days the wind blows cold, and others the sun shines. But everything is obviously dead here. And I walk along, letting my hand touch the fragile leaves, watching the memories waft away in the wind, pieces crumbling simply with my walking by them. Here are all my delights and aliveness and growth, returning to the Earth. It is falling apart, and I can do nothing about it, because should I plant again, it will never grow the same. I surrender and accept.

All along the path, grief has been a whack-a-mole. So often I would jump up and try to whack it back into something (whack it ‘away,’ whack it into a particular shape, whack it just to whack it). But then, I slump beside the machine and refuse to play. Let grief do what it will, I will wait for the time to run out, and then decide what do to next.

I have wondered if The Stages of Grief are something that happens inside each of these places. Inside the beautiful pyramid of memory and desire, we bounce between denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Inside the dead garden, we do the same. Perhaps the whack-a-mole is simply these five things repeating themselves until our lessons are learned.

 

 

There is no answer, of course, because grief is a similar::unique path for each person, each time they encounter it.

Grief is one of the most difficult human emotions, I think. It is so painful. It involves so much of us- not just body, mind, spirit as we are now, but all of those things and the depths of our history to the present moment as well. Grief cleans us out.

Perhaps that is the best metaphor, grief cleans us out. There are several rooms in the house of my heart that have been invaded by grief (and sometimes I have welcomed it, but not usually). And it is only through the process of grief that I have had to clean out those rooms. But by cleaning them out, leaving what’s most important (memories, lessons, boundaries), have I been able to move on, to leave the space and energy for new things to come along- sometimes new things in the same room, sometimes new rooms all together.

Grief changes us. That is really all I can say. And that to engage with it is an act of bravery. To bring our grief home is one of the deepest forms of courage of the heart.

 

 

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