Archive | Sacred pop culture

The Beautiful Lessons of 2018

Ya’ll. I am so happy right now. Like, wow. Wildly happy.

Why?
Because I got the download yesterday.

You know the download? When you’ve been stewing on something and suddenly it all becomes clear?
Yeah. That.

I have gotten downloads (they might also simply be called ‘clarity’ or ‘solutions’) for many things in my life. I used to run women’s self-care retreats and would regularly get downloads for what content my fellow facilitator and I should put in them, how it should run from one activity to the next, etc. I have also gotten them for classes I’ve taught or a series of blog posts. And a variety of other things (including just what to do to turn particular people on- there’s no limit to what one can find clarity for).

I think this kind of clarity comes when we’ve been stewing on something for a while. For me, it often develops this way. I start thinking about something- gathering ideas, brainstorming, looking at details, imagining different ways the pieces could go together. And then- bam- it all falls into place one day while I’m in the shower (usually) or driving somewhere or drinking a cup of tea or laughing with a friend. I think it’s the ‘stewing’ part that helps it all come together in a way that makes sense.

I have also had clarity when I’ve been so frustrated with something and I’ve finally sat down and either bitched about the whole thing to a friend or wrote out absolutely everything about what’s going on and what’s in my mind and heart. And – bam – there it is. The download. Suddenly everything makes sense and I see why it all had to happen and how the pieces click into place to form the whole picture. [Pro tip: you can use both these tools for yourself and probably get the same results.]

That’s what happened yesterday.

I was feeling so frustrated about several things- personal, professional, relational, etc. I finally sat my ass down in a chair and just writing-barfed all over the page. I let out everything- every detail, every idea, every connection, every desire, every frustration. And when I was done, I asked, “What do I need to see here?” I got very quiet and very centered and noticed.

I noticed patterns.
I noticed places I’ve let go of my own power.
I noticed what needed to be fixed and how to do it.
I noticed who I am and how I have not been honoring that.

I found my lessons for the year.

 

Learn your lessons and the sky’s the limit.

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

 

Typically, Fall is the time of year that I have insight into something about my life that needs to be looked at a little more closely. Often, that ‘thing’ also needs to be dealt with- felt, healed, put boundaries in place or change my behavior. This last year I’ve learned a lot of skills and new things about myself, but I haven’t been as focused on what I need to learn as in past years. I haven’t taken any classes this year, I’ve read only for pleasure, and that’s very different than in years past, so it didn’t feel like there was much in the way of lessons for me this year.

Except Life always has the last say, doesn’t she?

So, there I was, yesterday: sitting down and full of frustration and five other emotions. And I just decided to write everything out. Once I did, some things became incredibly clear. And I know they are my lessons for this year because once I saw them and understood their roots inside me and their impact in my life, I felt calm, clear, clean, and more alive.

What are my lessons?

To Just Tell the Fucking Truth. There are a couple of places where, if I had just been straight out about something, it probably would have gone a lot easier and better. Usually, I only tell one or two bits of truth at a time to see if people can handle it, or to see which direction they will take it. It’s easier for me to disengage if I’m not as invested (because I’ve not been vulnerable and not told the whole truth); it doesn’t hurt as much. I like to think my heart is always open, but maybe it’s not. And maybe I didn’t tell the whole truth because I was afraid of being hurt- and that fear turned things into a bit of a mess. If I’d just said, “Here’s the truth…” it would have all turned out much better (even if it hurt). I’m telling the fucking truth in 2019. Be ready.

 

Get On My Level or Leave. I give people a fuck ton of chances. And I realized I do this because it is rare for me to want to invest in people. Most people don’t get me. Most people don’t understand me or don’t want to. Most people are dumber and less strong than I am. And I don’t mind helping those people or hanging with them (to a certain extent), but when I find people I connect with and want to invest in, it’s rare. So I give them a lot of chances to hang with me. But that is just not working anymore.

I know that it’s hard to make decisions for some people. And I know some people need to feel 100% about something before they can jump, sometimes (although, that can also be an excuse based in fear). But I know I’m funny, smart, sexy, practical, creative, sensual, kind, supportive, weird, nerdy, beautiful, communicative, healing, etc. and if you can’t or don’t want to hang with that, I am finally good with it. There are people out there who see me and what I have to offer and have jumped at the chance to hang with me. Those are my people. They get me and they get how good it is to be connected to me. And I don’t have to ask them twice. In 2019 I am sticking with these people and not giving so many chances.

 

I Am Not Afraid. But Other People Are. I’m not as afraid to take chances anymore. I may think about it a lot. I may totally fuck things up in the process. But I do stuff and I think that scares a lot of people. Most people are afraid to change their lives, but I’m a change junkie. Most people are afraid of the pain of healing, but I know that pain results in pleasure. Most people won’t take risks of the heart or mind or spirit, but I will. And, again, I may totally fuck it up in the process, but at least I did it. At least I tried. And I know that scares the shit out of most people. I understand. It’s okay. It’s not a fault- safety is also pretty damn nice sometimes (there are skillful uses for everything). But when I’m ready to jump, I do it.  And that is not for everyone. In 2019 if you don’t want to run with me, I’m not going to hope that you try.

 

I’m Passionate. This Also Scares People. I’m ready to go, ready to walk the line, ready to party: once I’ve decided I’m ready, I’m ready. Like, all the way. I’m not afraid to talk about scary things, I’m not afraid of death (too much), I’m not afraid to make mistakes or go after what I want. And I think that really, truly scares people. Maybe it’s hard to keep up with. Maybe they need their own space and time so my pace and passion are hard for them to take. Either way, I’m not waiting anymore. If you want to run with me, you’re going to have to actually run. Lace up your shoes, grab my hand, and let’s go!

On this particular point I realized something very deeply: I have always done my best, felt my best, had the best time when someone – personal, professional, relational – has said, “Hell, yes, I want to do this with you!” and off we go. The plans might change as we go along, but it doesn’t matter, as soon as someone says “Yes!” then I am off like a rocket. And not everyone can do that or wants to follow.

It’s kind of funny…two of my favorite songs are about this kind of ‘yes.’ Say Yes by Floetry is one of the sexiest songs I’ve ever heard (ooooff). It gets me every time. And it is about this same idea that is now my lesson- that if we just say ‘yes’ it all opens up. I just need someone to grab my hand and I will take them to all the places there are in the universe. Just Say Yes by Snow Patrol is another huge favorite of mine with the same idea: just say yes, it will be fine, it’s easy…just say yes. And that’s really the case with me. When people simply say ‘yes’ to me, I make it the most gorgeous, honest, loved-up ride it can possibly be, whether it’s romantic, professional, friendly, or whatever. It’s just someone agreeing to let my passion flow between us and carry us both.

The lesson here is that I am not going to stop being this way and other people can’t always take that trip with me. And it shouldn’t stop me- it won’t stop me, anymore.

And, Jesus, it makes me giggly happy just to write these things down and feel the truth of them down to my bones, down to my deepest core. Oh, my god. Yes.

It’s the end of Mercury in retrograde today and it’s also a new moon tonight (my favorite phase), which means we (you) should be having more clarity about our lives and our patterns and it’s time to ‘plant’ what we’ve learned under this new moon darkness and let it begin to build into something real in our lives. These lessons are what I know now, and they are what I am going to be making my life from in 2019.

In these last weeks of the year, beloveds, I encourage you to take some time and look at your lessons for the year. Maybe you need to stew on them. Maybe you need a good word-barf session. Maybe you need to put the headphones on and dance like crazy until you sweat out your lessons. Whatever it is, do it. Make the space to find your lessons. Plant them for the new year. Watch you grow.

Under the dark moon, with all my love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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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.

 

 

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Believe Us

 

A bloody, red background with the words "believe women, believe brown people, believe black people, believe poor people, believe disabled people' across it

[Did you really think I would not say anything about the news this last week?]

 

And for all the white men who read this, particularly you mediocre motherfuckers:

You have the least prohibitions on you.
You are not fettered or hurdled by the things the folks listed above are.
You have very few forms of systemic oppression limiting you and your choices.

Your life is 99% your own.

If you don’t like where you’re at: that is on you.

No one is your savior.
No one is your excuse.
No one is your reason.
Not me, not anyone.

Where you are is a result of your choices.

You choose to be influenced? That is on you.
You choose to behave poorly? That is on you.
You choose to listen or not listen? That is on you.
You choose to be a coward? That is on you.
You choose to blame others? That is on you.
You choose to be an asshole? That is on you.
You made a life you don’t like? That is on you.
And so are all the consequences and outcomes.

Everything is a choice. Everything.
[You are free to choose to do or not do anything, including breathe. There are consequences for choices, including falling unconscious and having your vital systems force you to breathe. But you choose everything. Everything.]

So if you don’t like what you have, that is not my problem or anyone else’s.
You are your own damn problem.
And you have the most freedom to change.

STFU and change if you don’t like where you’re at.
I am tired of white men’s bullshit, especially you mediocre motherfuckers.
And I have no time for it anymore.

Believe women.
Believe brown people.
Believe black people.
Believe poor people.
Believe disabled people.
Believe LGBTQIA people.

 

 

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Paris [from New England]

I went on vacation to Paris, my friends. It was amazing in a lot of ways. The food (!!), the art, the history, the cultural differences (some of which were awesome), and just getting out of town were all fabulous. I also learned a lot about myself because…wherever you go, there you are. It was a good trip in many ways. I’m still chewing on some of the inner work I chose to look at while I was there; I’ll post about that later. For now, just some fave photos.

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

 

Of course, let us start with le Tour Eiffel. This was taken from next to the Museum of Architecture, which, not high on the list of most tourists, was actually really informative and interesting. They took casts of some of the important buildings in Paris (i.e. the upper reaches of Notre Dame) so that you can see the details up close.

The Eiffel Tower is enclosed (after the terrorist attack of 2015), so you have to get through security to go up, but it’s worth the time and effort. The science and architecture is amazing, as are the views.

 

Rooftop gardens seen from the Eiffel Tower.

 

A view from the Eiffel Tower, looking at Sacre Coeur church on the hill in the distance.

 

We opted to stay out of the Louvre (if you go, either plan to be there for three days, or pick what you want to visit beforehand and focus on that), and instead we visited the Musee D’Orsay. I had my fill of Impressionists (Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas); it was fantastic to see the paintings from my Humanities courses in real life. For me, the Art Nouveau section was the best, though. The skill of the crafting of that era always blows me away. I wept for the beauty of it.

 

We also visited one of the largest and most famous cemeteries in the city: Pere LaChaise. Many famous people are buried here, not the least of which is Oscar Wilde. The mausoleums were incredible. Rows and rows of tiny, ornate, gothic structures dedicated to the afterlife. It was beautiful and macabre, which I love.

 

 

There was even a famous broad from Boston there.

 

This is actually a fountain on the backside of the Museum of Architecture. There are a lot of fountains around Paris. Not all of them this grand.

 

The “Lock Bridge” is no longer, but that doesn’t mean lovers don’t find ways to keep up the tradition. We saw this on a walk along the Seine. (We also saw a couple fighting about their lock at another place. Ah, the City of Love.)

 

We did not visit Montmarte, an area well known for its artists and the location of the Moulin Rouge. But there was plenty of street art to keep us interested. We saw several works from Invader.

This was not the whole of our trip. There were other museums, boulangerie’s, many cafe’s, and lots of just walking around and noticing Paris. We stayed in a neighborhood called Les Lilas (The Lilacs) in a spare, well organized apartment inhabited by someone who won the French version of a Tony (called a ‘Moliere’) for her work in costumes. She had the most amazing library of fashion books. We learned how to ride the Metro – always wear your Resting Bitch Face, because nobody smiles (in fact, it would be considered flirting to smile at someone). I had one of the most tasty meals of my life and also a lime sorbet I will never forget.

Paris was a delight for the senses. I can see why they call it the City of Love, but it’s just a place where, if you are from out of town, you can be utterly stunned on a regular basis. Which is pretty cool. Paris was not necessarily a place I felt at home (in the way I do when we go to England), but it was most certainly worth our time and money and I will visit again. Paris changed small things in me; it was beautiful in every way.

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

Love from the path,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Nightswimming

For whatever reason, this time of year, I get nostalgic for my youth. My early adulthood. It’s the quiet nights and the return of the dark, I think. Summer is ending and so is the summer season of my life.

Last night my husband played the R.E.M. album Automatic for the People at dinner. We usually listen to 70s Lite Rock or the k.d. lang station on Pandora. But he put on that album instead. And “Nightswimming” came on. For whatever reason, I was 15 again, and taking my first swim at dusk. The sun setting, a fire near our campsite, my friends and I in the water. Sometimes splashing, sometimes quiet. I watched the stars come out floating in the water. And then changed into clothes, listened to Van Halen by the fire, and stayed up waaay too late laughing and flirting and talking shit.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.

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

|| “Nightswimming” by R.E.M. ||

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago
Turned around backwards so the windshield shows
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse
Still, it’s so much clearer
I forgot my shirt at the water’s edge
The moon is low tonight

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like years ago
The fear of getting caught
Of recklessness and water
They cannot see me naked
These things, they go away
Replaced by everyday

Nightswimming, remembering that night
September’s coming soon
I’m pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe nightswimming

You, I thought I knew you
You I cannot judge
You, I thought you knew me
This one laughing quietly underneath my breath
Nightswimming

The photograph reflects, every streetlight a reminder
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night, deserves a quiet night

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

It’s time for a night swim again, I think. My 43 year-old self needs it. The quiet. The water. The stars. As an adult, friends have pools and waterside homes. But there’s a lake around, too. I just need to sneak in. At dusk. Nightswimming.

Love from the path,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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