Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Philosophers. Poets. Teachers.

I thought I would compile a little reading list for you readers out there. My world has been shaped by the books I have read. When I was younger, I developed a voracious appetite for authors, philosophers and masters. Just as I would try to understand my parents by mimicking their expressions, physicality, and taste in reading and entertainment, so did I understand masters by reading their words and assuming their stance.

This is a short list of 19 life changing books and authors.

Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch by Henry Miller
Diary of Anais Nin by Anais Nin
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
The Fourth Way by P.D. Ouspensky
Astrology for the Soul by Jan Spiller
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness by Erich Schiffman
Hafiz anything by this poet.
Rumi all so beautiful.
The Poems of Dylan Thomas  
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz
Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
Grace and Grit by Ken Wilbur
Illusions by Richard Bach
Meeting the Shadow compilation by Zweig and Abrams
Awakening the Heros Within by Susan Pearson
The Seth Material by Jane Roberts
Light On Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
Strangers Among Us by Ruth Montgomery

I remember when I was 20, I got rid of my television, and opted solely for reading. During my Henry Miller binge, I remember reading that real life was not about writing or reading. That at some point we would be true artists by simply living our lives. I had aspired to be a true liver of life, and my dream came true when I was about 28 years old. I got a case of pneumonia, and was in bed reading one to two books a day. This had been a basic habit since the fourth grade. However, I finally had my fill. At that point I understood what he meant.

I stopped reading. I started living. Before I knew it, I was living a brand new life in the present moment and was experiencing real relationships and experiencing my connection to life. I had a community, a boyfriend, my relationships were much more present, and my emotions more accessible and fuller than ever before. 

That was many years ago. Once I realized that I do own a television, a MacBook Air, and I am now exposed to the "news", I am once again absorbing information. I am reading again. I am relaxing into it.

I even authored a book myself.

What was surprising, in terms of my literary archive, was that I was able to download and live the information very well. Choose your words wisely. Choose your teachers. Choose your world.

Get ready for November 28th's upcoming eclipse by understanding where you are truly living your spirituality and your wisdom in your real life. Replace outdated thoughts with wisdoms of the masters.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thank You

Thank you 2012.
Thank you for bringing me to my own edge, and for holding me in a womb of nature for six months while I held a rose quartz crystal in my left palm and cried.
Thank you for giving me a place to focus my analyzing mind. A book. With no ghost writer.
Thank you for the love that I felt and that I gave and received in earnest... And for it still not being enough.
Thank you for the pain that grabs me in a way that forces me to my knees and has me facing my biggest fear—that I am alone and unlovable. Thank you for the indescribable, undeniable presence that you send to sit with and support me.
Thank you for lifting me out of my tears and placing me in the presence of people who are open and want to hear and read my words.
Thank you for New Orleans beignets and for Ibiza all-nighters, for engagements, babies that were born into difficult circumstances, book signings, superficial friends, green tea with too much honey and tiny dogs that resemble exploding foxes.
Thank you for memories of lovers who I still love, and of lovers who I don't.
Thank you for sweatpants, heaters, and ice cream.
Thank you for Inside the Actors Studio and for Hot Yoga.
Thank you for my mother and grandmother (still alive), for the Hollywood Bowl, where I did not go this year, and for the outdoor ice skating rink in Santa Monica in 90-degree weather.
Thank you for delivering my lessons in gentle ways. For the UNFRIEND button on Facebook and for the UNSUBSCRIBE button on newsletters.
Thank you for deep breaths, anemia and electricity.
Thank you for Occupy Wall Street, Barack Obama, and Marlon Brando movies.
Thank you for car detailing, razor cartridges and chocolate, and Dr. Altchuler who forgot to call me back.
Thank you for old friends, new clients, and consistent habits.
Thank you for living up to the Nostrodamus predictions, for the Mayan calendar legend and for the speediness of time.
Thank you for delivering no less than a magical and exciting year.
Thank you for not giving away the ending.
Thank you for that moon. The stars. The sky.
Thank you for the Pacific Ocean, and my own ability to see the distortions my mind wants to make.
Thank you for the ever-increasing faithfulness growing inside my heart.
Thank you for showing me where I still have more to resolve and learn.
Thank you 2012. I like your style.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wicked Witch

The following story depicts my conditioning as to how to view and handle conflict. My childhood grew me into a rebellious adult with an arsenal of misguided anger. You see, I was a 'good' child. I colored in the lines; in fact I was known for being an advanced artist, in kindergarten through third grade. I was at the top of the good old academic bell curve (a system my progressive school would have me dismantle at age 9), and I was well-behaved. I was quiet, a good listener, I was able to be around adults. (I actually preferred adults to some of the kids my own age, in particular my 6-year-old neighborhood peer. When invited to her house to play with Barbies, she greeted me begrudgingly with a hammer in hand. I think she intended to use it on me. I was in disbelief when the adults, my mother included, agreed to leave us alone together after this. The girl and I are probably Facebook friends today.)

I spent a great deal of my early 20's attempting to decode my upbringing. It wasn't so much that I didn't remember, but that I forgot some interesting information. Looking back at my childhood story books, I found a significant clue to my mother's skills for coping with darkness...or evil. There comes a point in my fairy tale books in the story where there are large holes literally cut out from the actual books. Upon further examination, I realized that it was where the Wicked Witch enters the story. This was no doubt a genius idea to my 22-year-old mother, since the scary parts had caused great anguish. She did the logical thing—got rid of it. Poof. No more Wicked Witch.

I couldn't help but ruminate about this after the election. Some of my Facebook friends, most of whom fall on the side of liberal and progressive, were posting pictures of Barack Obama riding a unicorn beneath double rainbows. Simultaneously, I noticed headlines on my computer homepage citing hostile shootings at American drones, possibly due to our provocation by flying in airspace too close for comfort. It occurred to me that we still have this idyllic view of our world. That somehow we will be taken care of. That if the 'good' guys win, the 'bad' guys disappear. That one side is good and must prevail, while the other is bad and must be eradicated.

Because my family life was such a paradox: a juxtaposition of humor, spirituality,and  kindness, alongside  cruelty, immaturity, and even deception, I found myself extremely plugged into the significance of the Wicked Witch. Of course, as a child I could not articulate to my mother that it wasn't that I wanted the witch gone, it was that I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand her. Could I find relationship somehow to this lurking energy? Was she the other woman? Was she in me?

Perhaps more so than eradicating what we recognize as frightening, we want to understand this seeming ugliness. Perhaps it lives, archetypally, in each one of us. Could it be that each energy is contingent upon the eco-system of our own mystical fairy tale? This story that we are weaving must include the dark and light. In fact, maybe we cannot rise and overcome this energy unless we dive in deep and find the antidote from the inside.

I found the below description in Wikipedia. Having remembered reading about the Wicked Witch or Baba Jaga in Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women Who Run With the Wolves :

Baba Yaga is sometimes shown as an antagonist, and sometimes as a source of guidance; there are stories in which she helps people with their quests, and stories in which she kidnaps children and threatens to eat them. Seeking out her aid is usually portrayed as a dangerous act. An emphasis is placed on the need for proper preparation and purity of spirit, as well as basic politeness. It is said she ages one year every time she is asked a question, which may explain her reluctance to help. This effect, however, can be reversed with a special blend of tea made with blue roses.

I have spent a much of my life skimming the surface and I have covered a lot of territory. Maybe my initiation to the story will repeat. Or maybe I will resolve. Instead of viewing it as bottomless pit, perhaps the emptiness is a black hole that I may enter with curiosity until I ride out the other side, eaten, assimilated, digested...reborn. Perhaps I will make friends with the Wicked Witch, knowing she is my helper. After reading the Wikipedia definition, perhaps my mother could have enlightened me that I must prepare to encounter the Witch. Or that due to my purity of spirit I may be spared, the one thing we may need to work on was my politeness. On another note, we could have made some blue rose tea. Ironically, I have always loved rose tea, but have never treated myself to it until my friend gifted me with some last week. And so it goes....Into the dark. Happily Ever After.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Darkness Into Light

What a week. Nature is a terrorist! I say that jokingly, yet what we have seen is a destruction that we cannot pin on a group or a sect. We cannot blame anyone in particular, and yet the rage that the devastation causes still seethes inside. What an opportunity to become empowered.

When I wrote back and forth with a friend who lives in New Jersey with two little children to protect, and she described the flooding of the first floor of her place, her grandmother's home being washed away, her parents' beach house ruined, and her brother's two cars gone, I expressed my sorrow for her loss.

I was hesitant to say this but just days before, on her birthday, I had said, "Oh, this is your year of transformation." She wrote, "If this is what you mean by transformation, I don't like it." My heart went out to her, and I wished I could make it better. Something came to me. I knew she was a workout queen, and though I didn't want to sound trite, I did frame it this way: "You know when you are at the gym and you are doing a really intense workout that you want to give up and quit, but you dig in and get stronger, and day by day, your body literally transforms?... This is like a spiritual workout."

And so it goes. I myself have been through the mill. I was in NYC during the 9-11 attacks, while simultaneously my father was going through chemo therapy and dying. This was timed perfectly with my first big break up, getting fired, my finances plummeting and my back going out. This had me flat on my back for weeks on end. It seemed that everything I considered my foundation and stability was rocked. I was flattened. At the time, I called it a clean sweep. What else could it be? With all of these areas of my life targeted at once, it could only be a force of nature at play.

Thank goodness I had all those years of fitness under my belt. The strength and habits that I had developed by consistent effort translated directly to my emotional, spiritual and physical pain. I realized at that time, the workouts I had been doing were not merely for the toned tush I was sporting, but modeled for me my personal process when faced with difficulties.

I learned myself very well during that dark time. I learned not to be afraid of my own darkness. I went inward to face myself. (One night I was literally dragging myself to the bathroom, sweating in excruciating pain with nobody to help me, and a rat ran across the floor.)

As the nights get longer and we have more nocturnal moments in the literal darkness, take a deep breath. Take a few. Here you are. You are not alone. At the very least, a rat is crawling right beside you. This life is indeed a mystery, and you never know when you will be able to bear the fruits of your labors and utilize your skills.