Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I could've sworn I shared this story here, on my blog, before ... years ago, when it happened.  But, I can't find it.

Tonight, while attending Playback Theatre rehearsal (a form of improvisational story-telling theatre), I got to "tell a story" that was then re-enacted back to me, as a sacred offering.  Trust me, this may be THE most validating form of therapy one can experience (& I'm a veteran of therapeutic modalities!).

The story goes back several years ... when I was seriously studying, inquiring, investigating the reality of hell.  I was then a Christian, and had been for about 30 years ... and I then-believed that the bible was the "inspired and authoritative word of God."  I had believed, all that time, that hell is real ... that we are born separated from God, that we are depraved and in need of a savior to return to God, that the only savior is Jesus Christ, and that if we do not accept him "as Lord and Savior" that we will go to hell, for an eternity of torment.  IF we accept him "as Lord and Savior" then we go instead, to heaven.  This is what I was taught.  This is what I believed.

Until ... I *had* to question it.

Now, it's a damnable big deal to end up on the wrong side of THAT equation, if it's true.  I had to know, at all cost, what was true.  Years prior to this, when we were excommunicated from church because I had discovered that I am intended (by the Creator) to be a sexual human being, I had cried out for "truth at ALL cost" ... and I meant it.  And this, was part of that unraveling ... actually, the log-jam.

So, here I was, wanting (no, needing!) to know the truth about hell ... which was the truth about God ... which was the truth about life ... which was the truth about me... the truth about everything.

And I was scared shitless to explore ... but I did.  I had to.  I had to do what I couldn't not do.

I spent 18 months delving into this, using the bible, books that were pro-hell, and con-hell, and all manner of historical writings ... countless books, websites, discussion forums, articles, interviews.  I lost half my hair, lots of sleep, and most of my friends, over this.  I would lie in bed, night after night, begging God to not let me go into deception ... to be safe.  To know the truth...!

Finally, after so many signs, and so much evidence (including in the bible itself), I came to see, without question, that hell was a myth ... a metaphor, based on the mythologies of other cultures and religions.  I came to see that God was too vast, too good, too uncontainable, too undefinable, and too non-exclusively-male, to fit in that paradigm.  I fired that God.  I honestly don't even like the word, nor the baggage it brings.

I paid the price, though ... friends, associates, groups, ministries, all dropped me like a hot-potato.  I was "dangerous" ... "deceived" ... "deceptive" ... "off the deep end" ... "spawn of Satan" ... ha!  I even got called, "one of Santa's minions."  ;)  Yes, I am an elf...

I had to read an email one time, listing my many grievances, from a couple who had been very close to me.  It was brutal, reading about how evil they now believed I was.  I was en route to a dinner with other close friends, who strongly believed in the reality of hell - they had provided many of the "pro-hell" books for me to read.  I knew they were concerned for my "eternal salvation" and yet, I knew they loved me.  I had to pull myself  together, put on my best "happy dinner face" and sit down to eat.  As I got out of the car, I shot up a quick, "I need a sign that I'm on the right track!" message.  And I went in.

Dinner was progressing normally ... nothing unusual.  When suddenly, my friend looked startled, and said, "Oh, Dena!  God gave me a vision for you today, and I want to share it with you!"  I had a sinking feeling ... could this be my sign?

He took out a pen, and began to draw a U on a napkin.  "This is the edge of a cliff," he began.  (I'm thinking, "cliff ... this can't be good.")   He continued, "And in the middle here, is the abyss."  (Abyss!  That word!  An abyss canNOT be a good thing!")  "And here you are, going over to this edge, turning to the crowd behind you, and beckoning, 'Come here, come and see!', and they do."  (I'm thinking, "ohhhh great, I'm leading others astray ... this is a baaaaad sign!")  "And now, you're going to this side of the cliff," he said, pointing his pen to the middle, "and again, you call people to come look over the edge, and they do."  (I'm now grimacing, no more pretending to be grinning ...)  "And then, you go to the far side, and do the same thing - and the crowd follows you to go look."  (I'm bracing myself, preparing for the worst.)  He paused, looked at me, and said, "And up here, above it all, is God.  And God is saying something to you."  (I have shrunk down, preparing for the onslaught.)   "God is saying, 'That's my girl!'"

I blinked.  I sat tall.  What?  What did he just say God said?  About me?!?  Really?

I ask for a sign, and I get one from this man, who got his vision at the same time the former-friend was writing his email ... this man who was alarmed about what I now-believed, was used as the very instrument to give me the message I most needed to hear ...?


He then said, "Oh, I almost forgot.  You're not just walking on the edge of the cliff; you're dancing.  It's what you're born to do.  And, if you fall, angels will be there, to catch you."

He shook his head slightly, as if to "come to" and said, "may I have a bite of your fish?"

So, that's me ... the cliff-dweller.  She-Who-Dances-on-the-Edge-of-the-Cliff.

So be it.

[Post-Script:  For the record, I am no longer a Christian ... I could no longer swallow-whole the concept that we had *ever* been separated from (wait for it) the Only Source of All Life (what *else* had supposedly enlivened me?) ... therefore, without a separation-problem, there was no need for a savior-solution.  It got clear to me that the only thing I'd ever had to be saved-from was the concept that I ever had to be saved in the first place!  I Am in the (wait for it) All in All.  God, in us, AS us.  Plus, the notion of a god who had to kill god to appease god just no longer passed the straight-face test for me.  My concept of God includes ALL That Is ... The Divine ... Source ... Presence ... Spirit ... Brahman ... The Universe ... it matters not what it is called ... it is Love, just Love ... though, in our perception, often distorted ... but that's a whole 'nother blog post!]

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Both/And-ness of Life

"You are the captain of your ship ... the co-creator of your life ... YOU get to choose how to live, and where ... YOU get to determine the course of your experience ... Your thoughts create your reality ... KNOW what you want, and GO for it ... make it happen ... name it and claim it ... Grab that brass ring ... emPOWER yourself ... you are the ONLY one standing in your way ... you have ENDless options!"

"There is a divine plan, and you are bound by it ... Let go ... TRUST ... Relaaaaaax ... Go with the flow ... Don't resist (what you resist, persists) ... Your beliefs determine your life-course ... you don't have a choice, or a say ... you can only choose how to respond to what Life brings you ... Everything is valid and required ... accept ... embrace ... allow ... let go of the oars and go downstream ..."

Ooooookay ...!  Which is it?!?  Which is truth?  Reality?  How life works?

And isn't this just a modern-day rehashing of the perpetual Free-Will vs. God's Will debate?

(I could never decide on THAT one, either.)

I am lousy at debates ... I sit there, take in the arguments, on both sides, and it's like a game of mental ping-pong ... "THAT one has truth ... oh, wait, THAT other one has truth, to ... wait, that was a great point ... oh, dang, that was *also* a great point ... uh-huh ... uh-huh ... yup ... yeppers ... mmmhmm ... oh yeah!"  Great workout for the neck muscles, with all that up-and-downing, and back-and-forthing ... but not so good for arriving at conclusions... (& I'm wondering ... are conclusions the point...?  or is it an exercise designed to stretch my perspective ...?).

The deal is, I see truth EVERYwhere ... or at least some truth ... something that rings true ... something that agrees with me, inside ... that makes my inner-jumper leap with re-cognition (remembering, or re-membering with what I knew before ... and went and forgot).  So, I cherry-pick truths ... and connect truth-dots.  Sorta like creative sacred geometry ... if it zings with my soul, it's truth-for-me.

But ... what about the conundrum at the top of this page?  WHICH is truth?  Because they sure 'nuff *seem* to be polar opposites ...!

What if ... what if it takes polar opposites to contain a truth, any truth?
What if ... what if every truth consists of a dance of a divine dichotomy?
What if ... what if they're BOTH true...?

(I mean, c'mon ... the universe, and your own body, wouldn't exist without both expanding and contracting ...)

What if ... yeah, no iffing about it ... I am again, always, forever, a both/and girl.

What zings most-true in my core-being, is that there IS a divine plan ... and that *I* am part of it (but I went and forgot).  That it IS all valid and required (no mistakes, nothing wasted, nothing unnecessary, nothing to screw up) ... AND I need to relax and trust ... AND it's all right on time ... AND I get to choose how to respond ... AND I get to act in ways that feel most-true, and dismiss all that which insults my soul.

What if life is like a cruise ship ... we're all on it ... we're all going in the same direction ... and we WILL safely dock.  However ... while ON that cruise, we each have endless choices ... to stay in the cabin, or venture out ... when/where/what/how-much to eat ... with whom we shall schmooze ... whether to relax alone, or dance wildly ... whether to get wet, or stay dry ... when and how long to sleep ... how we spend our time ... and whether or not we take the time to feel connected to the "captain" (notice how the captain keeps winking ..?).  We even have the choice as to whether we will hate the ride, or fully enJOY it ... and yeah, we can abandon ship ... but then we'll just be dragged along ...

(Admittedly, it ain't a perfect analogy, but y'get my drift ...?)

So ... all that to say, I am going to participate with these seemingly divergent-urges to both RELAX and EMPOWER myself ...

Stand back ... it could get messy.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

(Just One of The) Lessons of a Broken-Heart

Written to a friend, when she was feeling the sting of rejection ... she sent it back to me, to take in for myself.  I share it for anyone (everyone?) who has also felt this sting:

Your heart has been lit by this man ... and I get that. It's part of this lesson ... you had to feel a connection, in order for the trigger to be painful, in order to bring up that old stuff, so that you can FEEL to HEAL. Just feel. NO stories, just feel. I know it's as hard as shit, to feel painful stuff, AND to not tell the stories  ... do what you can.

Now you know that you can be captivated, inflamed, and heart-touched. This is good to know, good to experience, delicious to feel. It's part of the beauty of being human. AND you know that it's possible to want someone badly enough that when it's threatened to leave, it hurts. Good to know, even if painful to feel. And you know that there are unhealed-places that must be seen, so as to not continue to fester, unaware. And while it hurts to have them triggered, and hurts to hold them, it wouldn't be happening if you were not now READY to do so. You have manifested this, for your healing, and it remains to be seen if it is ALSO a manifestation for a rewarding, fulfilling, soul-enhancing relationship. 

Yes, your soul is engaged, your heart is touched, by this man. It's a risky adventure when that happens. But it had to happen for at least the healing to also happen ... and it could be more ... and you will find that part out. Part of the risk is letting your heart be touched and seen.
Part of the risk is knowing that you could indeed thus be devastated by the pain (& that you can also heal ... I learned this too -- I could be nearly destroyed by the pain, and rise from it ... even if I still feel the pain, and often).

Part of the risk is being willing to let the one go, who can so-touch you, even at this early stage ... because you want it ALL, not part.

BOTTOM LINE: no matter how you feel about this man, you WANT to know if he cannot accept you a you are. You want MORE than that -- you cannot return to what you left.

Yes ... your heart has gone deep with this man ... when the connection is there, and it's real ... you can't defend against that, without also causing pain. the pain is inevitable now ... with that connection ... and with that, also possibly, unspeakable joy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Normal Is Just a Setting on the Dryer ~ It Was Never Meant to Pertain to Humans

January 24, 2013
Being YouLibra Daily HoroscopeYou may feel particularly enchanting today as you move between the various spheres of your existence. Because you may be charming all those you come into contact with, you may find yourself wondering what you are doing differently. However, it is likely that the intense appeal you have developed as of late is related to a newfound determination to be yourself while interacting with others. While you may not be able to impress all of the people you meet today, you can make a good impression on those individuals whose values are similar to your own by staying true to what you believe in no matter what. 

We enchant others when we allow them to see the beauty and the grace that exists within us. Accomplishing this is a matter of first being ourselves no matter what the consequences, and then giving the people around us the gift of our authenticity. While it is easy to get caught up in the whims of the crowd, it is in our best interests to follow the guidance of our own hearts and souls because our dedication to our convictions shows others that we are sincere in our intention to live in accordance with our deepest values. This strength and surety will attract the attention of those individuals whose beliefs and opinions are similar to our own. By simply being ourselves, we can make friends and broaden our support networks immeasurably. The qualities you project today will appeal to others, provided you make a concerted effort to live your life by your own rules. are present to each other. 

It hasn't felt easy, being me, lately.

(Lately = this week, this season, this year, the past few years, the past half-century, this eon.)

I sure haven't felt "enchanting".... or "charming" ... or even "ok".

I don't fit in.  I don't belong.  I don't have the manual about "how to be normal."  I don't know how to play the games.  I don't know how to "tone down" ... "sit still" ... "be quiet" ... or "blend in."

I don't even *want* to be normal ... I don't think I'm meant to.  I don't think I can.

It doesn't mean something is wrong with me ... it means I'm committed to BEing me.  I just can't slap me in the face, and try to be something else.

And yeah ... I would rather be despised for who I am, than loved for who I am not.  That price, the price of betraying me, is just too inordinately high to pay.

So, to the other 7 billion people on the planet:  This is me.  I can't be you.  I can't pretend to be you, even if I have to, in order to be liked by you, approved-of by you, accepted by you, or included by you.

I am intense.
I feel muchly.
I think ponderously and oftenly.
I love lavishly.
I experience widely and deeply.
I ask honestly.
I live openly.
I express freely.

I know ... I can be "too much."  I do it *for* me ... more than *to* you.  It's not my intention to cause discomfort, harm, or pain, to anyone.  But neither do I shrink back from those, as consequences to my commitment to be me, and to meet you, where/as you are.

The timing of the message, above, was much-needed ... I woke up, asking for "signs" (not just one, but many, for I am greedy) that Who I Am is ok.  The first email I opened, was that one (it came in yesterday, when I was reeling a bit, but I read it today).

And ... the first chat-message I received today, was from a dear man, who said this to me (& yes, I let him know the universe had "used" him to be one of my signs):

Hey, I want you to know I admire you for putting everything that's in you out there!All the sorrow, doubt, etc.
All the 'negative' stuff.

Thank you.  (((Thank you)))

Monday, January 21, 2013

Will My Mind Puh_LEEZE Wave a White Flag...?!?

You save the world by taking responsibility for your awakening and then where that awakening leads to, you follow. Maybe you will be a social activist, maybe you will be a hermit. That’s not up to the thinking mind; the thinking mind is no longer the leader, it is the follower.

The thinking mind is an exquisite follower, but first it has to surrender to follow.

>>>>>>You have permission to be yourself.<<<<<<<


Ahhhhhhh ... This is my mind. This is my mind on ... thinking (yeah, may as well be a drug ... though, honestly, I'm hunching that would help, not hinder!).

Bearing in mind what I said yesterday, about how my mind is utterly lacking either an off-switch, or a dimmer switch, read on.

I'm alone a lot (after previously living in a household of 10 who were at-home 24/7), and while I lean into extroversion, I swing into introversion, on a regular basis ... I have a "rich inner thought-life." Ha! I have an imagination that can run marathons. I can tell myself a WHOPPER of a story...! And because I'm highly visual, my stories come with vivid, full-color, visceral, fully-sensitized, surround-sound *illustrations* so as to be convincing.

I also have a committee in my head. Yup. A buncha folks. Many voices, each of which possesses a strong and stubborn (& often oppositional!) opinion about me, about life, about how the universe "should" operate. Now, realistically, I know they're all "me" (or past-voices of judgment/experience that seem to have mental squatters-rights), but dang they seem to be nigh unto "legion" (& yes, I grasp the implication of that particular word, & no, I don't care), and they often seem to gang up on me, ALL at once, having a shout-fest, each one clamoring for my attention, agreement and action. Yes, it can be crazy-making.

I own this. My voices. I mean, I once had umpteen invisible friends, when I was a child, and they were *real* to me ... to the point that I would cry if the newspaper boy hit my invisible-friend on the head, or if the grocery-bagger put a bag on top of her (of course, since then I have pondered whether I was then-aware, and have since blocked-out, a connection to angels ... guides ... entities that are part of my cosmic entourage, but I digress - that would be a whole 'nother blog-post).

And, today, on the back of my car, one of the many bumper-sticker-blings says, "Four out of Five Voices in My Head Say 'Go For It!'"

My voices seem to really feel the need to take one of my many arising emotions, and run to the fatal conclusion with it (i.e., "this hurts; I might die" ... "this is hard; I might fail" ... "I am lonely; I will forever be alone" ... "I don't have a job; I am gong to end up homeless"). I'm one of those "highly sensitive people" who feels EVERYthing (and I do mean EVERY thing) intensely (thinking that oughta be another blog-post, and perhaps soonly, to remind myself of the reality with which I must contend). So, the emotions flow in, or arise (some seem to come from the collective-consciousness, and others seem to come from within my own depth, and it just ain't always easy to discern which is which!), as emotions do (because they are e-motion: energy-in-motion), and I FEEL them.

There is no not-feeling, no means by which I can numb-out (I lived a life of numbness for many years, and I would rather feel even excruciating emotion than to live-numb), and often these emotions seem to hit with the force of a tsunami ... with an onslaught that threatens to drown me. When I dive in, without reservation ... willingly-intentionally swimming into the waves, beneath the surf, down to where the "water" is still, and dark, and formless ... I meet with a calmness-in-the-midst-of-the-whirlpool ... the eye of the storm ... if I can remain there, holding those emotions like a baby, without a story, without condition, for as long as it takes ... then the e-motion integrates and lifts ... then I go *through* ... akin to coming up for air, with the radiance of clarity filling my heart, as it gasps for breath. It's painful, yes ... frightening, very ... unsettling, to say the least. But there is something so deliciously authentic about surrendering to that raw, unguarded vulnerability, to open myself wide to the ravaging-embrace of the emotion (whatEVER it is: fear, grief, sorrow, joy, loneliness, pain, anger, excitement, bliss) ... something so incredibly rewarding about taking that inordinate risk (because a part of me always wonders if I shall survive).

And I do. So far ... I always do. Even when I think I won't. Even when I think I don't want to...

My heart is my refuge. And when I live from my heart, when I trust my heart, when I follow my heart ... it leads me into my soul's purpose. I can't claim that I understand ... or that it seems safe ... or that I know what the hell I'm doing ... but those are the demands of my mind, not my heart.

My heart knows the way, and knows it often has to take the circuitous, treacherous, vastly-dark, loop-de-looping, through-the-brambles, and off-the-cliff course.

Because ... I got in the "roller-coaster-line" for this lifetime ... and no matter how I whine about wishing I had gotten in the "stupid-happy line" instead ... I don't really mean it.

Certainty ... predictability ... safety ... those are not only myths of epic proportion, but they would bore the SNOT out of me ...!

My minds says things like: "count the cost" ... "be careful!" ... "play it safe!" ... "keep that hidden!" ... "don't take risks!" ... "think it through" ... "do what's expected!" ... "put up a wall and protect yourself!"

My heart says things like: "do you feel that longing? trust it." ... "it's ok to love" ... "unleash, risk, try, dare" ... "don't hold back, even if it hurts" ... "follow those urges/longings/desires/promptings/hunches/intuitions, for they are most-you!"

So, yes. Despite what our culture believes, the HEART, and not the MIND is predominant (the heart is more than 5,000 times more electro-magnetically powerful than the brain - fathom THAT!). My mind wants to be in charge, but it's limited to my senses. My heart is meant to lead ... for it is connected to All That Is, and knows The Way that my Soul already chose, and came to live-out.

May "it" ... and therefore, *I* ... surrender.

My mind tells me to give up, but my heart won't let me. ~Lao Tzu

It is the heart always that sees, before the head can see. ~Thomas Carlyle

Where the mind is past hope, the heart is past shame. ~John Lyly

The mind cannot long act the role of the heart. ~Francois La Rouchfoucauld

You are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life ... Your entire life ... Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul. ~Anna Quindlen

The human heart feels things the eyes cannot see, and knows what the mind cannot understand. ~Robert Valett

I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process. ~Vincent Van Gogh

What the conscious mind can't recognize, the heart might know. ~Marilyn Monroe

Sunday, January 20, 2013

You May Be Right ... I May Be Craaaaaazy ...!

I don't know about the rest of you, but there are times when I seriously question my sanity. My mind is a scary place in which to be. It is always *ON* ... not only can I not find the off-button, but I am totally devoid of a dimmer-switch. My kingdom for a mute button...
So, I am inviting you into the deep, dark and cacaphonic world of My Mind ... dare, if you will, to enter the realm of my rawly-exposed thoughts, as I free-form them out of the inner-realm onto the "paper" of my blog (like "verbulimia" ... purging of verbiage).
Here's what I can "hear" inside ... over the course of moments, to hours, to days, at a time (& seemingly triggered by nothing-in-particular):
Oh god, I am so scared ... I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared ... what if I don't make it? ... what if I lose everything I haven't yet-lost ... what if magical-thinking doesn't work, and affirmations are shit, and we're all just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic ... what if I end up as a bag-lady under a bridge ... ok, breeeeeeeeathe -- what the fuck were those exercises I'm supposed to do when I get overcome with fear?!? ... damn, I can't remember... I really oughta have a poster on my wall for times like this (i.e., "When Discombobulated, Do the Following Three Simple Things") ... something about being in the moment, but this is a really shitty sort of moment, so why would I want to BE here ... I'd rather be somewhere ELSE, somewhere happy, but that's just a game ... what if it's ALL a game ... what if we're all just making this up as we go (which really, I can see that could/would be a *good* thing) ... what if NO one has a clue about what they're doing, and I'm sitting here comparing my insides to their outsides ... no WONDER I fall short ... what if no one ELSE knows what they're doing, either, and we're all wearing masks and pretending and hoping to god that no one figures out we're all a bunch of impostors ... so why ARE we playing this game - can we get REAL already ... but what would that look like... oh crrrrrrAP, what if they DO know what they're doing, and it's only ME who doesn't - yikes! ... and my only hope is to keep dancing frenetically to dazzle 'em & distract me ... I am SO tired of pretending (only, really ... if I could pretend better, it might make life easier), so tired of trying so hard to get on and stay on the very treadmill I got catapulted OFF of ... so what IS the answer, then ... why did my life end up like this ... have I totally fucked up everything, beyond repair ... but I couldn't stay IN it, and it's not l like I didn't try my hardest to "get it right" ... and it wasn't working, and this is how it went ... ok, I know I did the best I could have, with what I knew and believed at the time, every step of the way ...I GET that ... but wow, this hurts ... is THIS the magical "moral of the story of the life of Dena" that makes my story a gripping, edge-of-the-chair page-turner? ... people are gonna want a refund for THIS book, sheesh ... I keep wondering if I should just cash out, and take off, and disappear, and find someplace where I can just start over, where no one knows me, or my history, or the rumors, and I can just be me, and they can take me as I am ... or maybe be a gypsy and just keep moving and I could wear really cool hippie clothes (of course, I could do that NOW, because I have those clothes - I really oughta wear 'em more often), and live in a treehouse, and FINALLY learn to play my languishing guitar, and paint and do collages, & mosaics in strange places, and write/recite/dance poetry, and grow my own veggies, and milk goats, and dance naked in the woods ... but I want to stay connected with the people I love, even if I'm not smack-dab-with-them, even when some of them forgot they love/loved me (but honestly, I could do most of that here/now, so why AREn't I?!? Ok, I might have to settle for vacuuming naked, rather than dancing naked in the woods) ... {looking out window at people passing by} ... so what are they doing? and where are they going? ... how is it that others just go about the business of doing-life, and it looks so simple for them (secretly wondering if they're just going through the motions, only THEY don't have THIS kind of rambling brain that makes them question everything and therefore get all angsty and antsy and disgruntled and discombobulated - maybe they were in the "stupid-happy line" ... damn, got to make a note to get IN that line next time) ... but they seem to be living some sort of semblance of a life (or are they just ok with going through the motions?), and I'm sitting here feeling stuck, and wondering what's WRONG with me ... I used to feel competent and confident and expansive and eternal and OPTION-LADEN, but was that just because I was taken care of, and someone else had to contend with bills and provision, and now it's just me with NO safety-net, and NO clue, and NO resume, and NO job-skills ... and ohhhhhh god the yukky feeling of getting stuck in a meaningless-mundane job, and going through the motions (going to work to make the money to pay the bills so I have a place to live so I can go to work and make the money to pay the bills ...) and wondering "is THIS all there IS?!?" ... like I'm terminally-cursed with the "you have so much potential" expectation ... so what are my options, really ... sit here, blogging and attempting to paint, and waiting for something magical to drop into my lap (even though something actually did) ... or is something magical/providential/provisional REALLY en route, and I just have to be open about it, rather than grousing about how it must've ended up in Duluth instead of Dallas (Oregon, y'all, not Texas; it's the little-d) ... and then there's the question of why I am here, in Dallas, where everyone is conservative and/or Christian, and how I didn't fit in here even *when* I was a Christian and voted Republican (oh, Goddess forgive me!) ... and I sure as heck don't fit here NOW ... but my kids are here, and I do love my purple Victorian-former-bordello-haunted-by-the-Madam-who-might-be-me-reincarnated ... and it's such a *cute* little town, and safe, and adorable, with a fabulous downtown that has SUCH potential (ha! like me!) ... and I know that everything that happens is valid and required, and what we resist persists, and that I need to accept and gooooooo with the flooooooooow (not "goo" but "go", in case you're wondering, but goo is good, too), and I sense that SOMEthing is about to be birthed (and HA! but do I ever know what birth and transition, which feels like death-but-is-really-the-harbinger-of-life, feels like!) ... but what is it with this procrastination-thingy that has overcome my life ... I have all these dreams and longings and desires and want-to-do's and they scare the crap out of me, because something deep-and-ancient in me warns, "you'd better get it RIGHT or ELSE there will be punishment!" (or maybe that I did screw up so badly, that I deserve to BE punished, and AM now being punished!) ... and so here come those fears that hit me feel like they're saying "RUN from the dragon or the tidal wave or the saber-toothed tiger!!!" and I look around and I don't see those things looming-with-impending doom (just some dishes to be washed, and the perpetual laundry that needs to be folded and HOW does one single woman manage to MAKE that much dirty laundry, anyway?!?), and of course part of me KNOWS that dragons don't exist (ok, so we could debate that), and tidal waves can't reach this far inland, and saber-toothed tigers are definitely extinct, but the FEAR-unto-paralysis slams me hard, and renders me ... well, paralyzed ... and then I get all self-recriminating, back to "WHAT is WRONG with you?!?" ... which isn't the best means of feeling self-compassionate, and sure has hell doesn't make me feel like moving in a strong and healthy direction ... oh SHEESH but I need to snap OUT of this (I am disgusting myself with my ineptness and whining!), and start making a life (ok, honestly I do manage to pull it together, and show up and do stuff, even really tough stuff, despite all this ... and maybe that's what everyone else is doing too, only they're not saying it because ... well, maybe they FOUND their dimmer-switches!) ... other people do it ... bird do it, bees do it, 18 year old's do it ... so why can't/aren't I doing it... but maybe I see/think/feel/ruminate too much ... and I really need to meditate (ha - or mediCate!), only THESE are the thoughts that come up EVERY time I try ALL the various ways (so far) to meditate, and I drive myself NUTS, so I end up going to the gym and tearing up the treadmill (which reminds me, I set a new personal record in running way-fast for way-too-long today, only no one was there to see me or brag to) ... or else I blog a lot, or sit and stare at Facebook like it's a Great and Nebulous Oracle that Shall Soonly Dispense Uberly-Profound Life-Direction Unto Moi ... and you'd think that after several years of doing that, it woulda happened by now, and yet hasn't, so maybe I can wake up and read the LACK of a message ... so maybe it's time to get real and face my reality, and get "a job" and stop waiting for that dream-fulfillment of (what?!?) ... writing and acting, and painting, and speaking and inspiring others to live fully (HOW ironic ... as if *I* am living FULLY?!?) ... that's a rather sobering and depressive thought ... I keep thinking I just need to SEE what I'm blind to ... need to have yet-more lies replaced with truth ... and then I'll be free from this rut ... when will I decide that *I* am here to live *my* life (which includes, and doesn't exclude anyone I love, or those who even mildly interest me ... and I DO tend to just love humans-in-general, even the ones who irk me) ... but when will I be free of this conditioning, and WHAT holds it in place, and HOW old will I finally be when I finally start to be me, really me, just me ...?
Or ... is it that I am already-me, and everything's fine, and I'm ON my soul's-journey-path, and all is well and getting weller, and it's just a game, and I'm learning to play, and I'm being-undone, and re-done, and therefore it's new and unsettling ...?
Maybe it's true that when things seem to be falling apart, they are really falling together, perhaps for the first time ...?
So, maybe I should just breeeeeeeeeathe, and relax, and trust ... and keep looking for that damn dimmer-switch ...?
Maybe ...

The Personal-Utopian Shift: Truth ... or Myth...?

Sooooooooo ... I saw this image on Facebook, and at first glance, and even at first perusal, I thought, "what a lovely message!"

And then, it sank in deeper ... and I wondered, "really? I'm obligated, and guaranteed, to move from that-which-is-perceived-as-negative into that-which-is-perceived-as-positive ...?"

So I ask, is that true? Can I know for certain that that's true? Or is it that we breathe from contraction-to-expansion-to-contraction-to-expansion, from dark-to-light-to-dark-to-light, etc ... in the same way I notice that the universe itself can ONLY exist by continually expanding and contracting ..?

Could we have bought into a myth here, that causes us to self-condemn when seemingly "stuck" in a negative place, even imagining that we've gone backwards, or regressed ... when we are merely in the midst of a natural/normal stage of contracting ...?

In the realm of sacred geometry, there is an incredibly powerful and illuminating and even *comforting* concept known as The Golden Ratio (or Mean). The concept goes like this: we are prone to "going to extremes" as humans, in the pursuit of experience, of discovering boundaries, of exploring who we are, and how we operate.

Imagine, with me, a road, with ditches on both sides. So here I am, a human, starting off in life, and I go WAAAAAAY over to the far right (ha! which is just what happened!), and go INTO the ditch. Ker-plunk and kaput upon my keister! I get out of said ditch, and get back on the road ... and find that I am now heading WAAAAAAY over to the far left side, and get to the very edge of the ditch ... and navigate the edge for a while, like a gymnast upon a balance beam ... but manage to not go *quite* into the ditch. Whew! (Now, bear in mind that onlookers will be saying things like, "sheeeeesh, Dena tends to go way OUT there, huh? I mean, she's falling off of cliffs, and going to such extremes! How long will she swing to such extremes?!? What is wrong with her?!? I can't watch!!" ).

I then head back over to the right side again ... only, I go even less-far than I did before, and even less-far than I did on the left side ... and I repeat this pattern, with each and every foray toward the ditch becoming less and less of a swerve. I am still going from one "extreme/side to the other", but each curve is incrementally less-pronounced, less-extreme. Eventually, I become more mid-lined ... never quite perfectly balanced (for there is no such thing, truly), but closer and closer to the center, MY center.

This phenomenon is built into the Universe, to life itself ... it is HOW life continues ... and the comfort is, when you see me, or your child, or your own life, careening from one extreme to the other ... KNOW that the Universe is pre-wired to self-correct ... that you canNOT go off the deep end ... that there is NO way to muck-up (though it can appear that way, to the onlookers, who can only see a small snippet of the totality of your wobbling/swerving journey!) ... that you will align, more and more, toward YOUR particular center ... and know, too ... that the very experience of swinging from one extreme to another is THE means by which we do so.

So, relax. Trust. Enjoy the ride.

Annnnd ... if your swings are less intense than mine -- enjoy watching me as I keep bungee-jumping off the various ditch-cliffs ... vicarious thrills, presented in a riveting comedy/drama, for your entertainment value! ;)

(You're welcome!)

P.S. For the record, if finding my personal center means that I gravitate more toward the love/happiness/peace that this image speaks of - OH yeah! However, I am also fine with finding peace & joy IN the midst of accepting ALL emotions that come my way. Also, let it be known that David Deida is one of my favorite authors ... his books on spirituality/sexuality are among the best out there!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Living Whole-Heartedly ...

One of my favorite authors (Elizabeth Gilbert, of "Eat, Pray, Love") writing about one of my favorite speakers (Brene Brown) about one of my favorite topics (vulnerability):

What separates people who live their lives "whole-heartedly" from people who do not? The answers may surprise you. Whole-hearted living, it seems, has everything to do with embracing vulnerability. The whole-hearted among us are the ones who are able to risk extreme vulnerability again and again in their lives — to sit with discomforting feelings, to courageously share their true emotions, to take the chance being judged and ridiculed, to accept the possibility of failing — all in the name of living a complete human experience. And all in the name of loving one another with totality.

What If We NEED To Be Needy ...?

"Don't be needy!"

"Sheesh, why do you need so much attention?"

"You seem to need a lot of emotional support..."

"You are inTENSE!"

"You are so so so emotional...!"

"Drama queen ... are we?!?"

"You're a bit too ... emotionally-open."

"Do you really have to share so much - can't you be more private?"

"You seem to be lacking boundaries..."

"You don't really need anyone else in your life - just love yourself!"

"Have you ever considered that you might be ... codependent?!?"

"Oh please don't cry/laugh/talk/sing/dance/move/think/feel so much!"

"You're really out-there...!"

Welcome to my world. What I often hear, around, and in, me. I've had the lifelong curse of "too-muchness" ... even in kindergarten, my teacher commented, "Dena is bright and wants cooperate; but she is VERY sociable!" Now, this wasn't said as if it was a compliment ... but more of a foreboding of danger: Get that kid in line FAST or else you'll never reign her in!

Thus far in my life, everyone has failed at that endeavor.

I'm still here.

I'm still ... intense.

I am a connector.

I am an uber-schmoozer.

I like to get rawly-emotional, relationally-real, and really-really (did I say really?) deep.

I've been told I do the emotional-equivalent of bungee-jumping.

And ... I think I am honestly just this way.

But what I'm wondering is - WHAT is wrong with THAT?!?

Is it because schools are controlled by people who want to ... control? By people who lean toward order, and reigned-in emotions, and suppression of individuality, so that the educational show can go on..?

Is it because we have created, and continue to support, a culture that requires people to adhere to a "don't-tip-the-cart or ruffle-the-feathers" conformity, so that the system can be maintained?

Are displays of authentic emotion truly so threatening to such a system (well, yes ... but then, is the maintenance of the system more important than honoring our emotions)?

Why are emotions deemed to be such a liability? Why are we afraid of them? Why must they be suppressed, mistrusted, feared, maligned and discounted...? And why must we do so to the ones who do express emotions?

[Note: I do recognize that humans come in various temperaments, personality-types, and that there is a wide-spectrum of intro-extro-version (I have been both), as well as a variance in ways to express oneself. I'm just questioning how much of that is innate and true to who we are ... and how much of that is a learned/conditioned response? I'm one of the ones who wants to know.]

Now, as far as the claim that to be emotionally expressive means one is "needy" or "codependent" or one "should just focus on loving yourself" ... I take issue with that.

What if we learn to love ourselves through the process of experiencing love from, and for, others?

What if we are intended to be inter-dependent, moreso than independent, but we fear the risk of such a depth of connection?

What if needs aren't evil...?!?

What if all just means we're (wait for it ...) human???

What if such admonishments aren't just a bunch of spiritually-correct psycho-babble that needs to be questioned ..?

I have given birth to 8 babies, and I have observed countless others. And, I have been one. What I notice about babies is that they have needs ... and they let them be known. Loudly. Incessantly. WithOUT apology. And when babies, and children, have all their physical needs met (are fed, clothed, kept warm, sheltered), BUT are not touched, are now given loving attention and affection ... they fail to thrive. And they can die -- from lack of loving touch.

We are pre-wired to need this intimate-encounter with another. It's not a luxury, but a crucial requirement to sustain life itself.

And so I ask myself, and I ask you ... at what point in our growth and development, do we LOSE that need...? At what point do we no longer require touch, love, affection, attention? In childhood ("just ship 'em off to school, they need to learn to toughen up!"? In adolescence ("well, they don't ACT like they want hugs! besides, they're so awkward and gawky - I don't want to embarrass them")? In adulthood ("hey - you don't need anyone - just love yourself - you're enough!")? In old age ("they just can't take care of themselves anymore, or remember anything, and they're just SO embarassing -- let's put them in that wharehouse, I mean, retirement home")?

Could it be that we have indeed "failed to thrive" because we do NOT emote, and we do NOT connect, and we do NOT touch, and we do NOT experience authentic intimacy with another? Could our "failure to thrive" be masked as addiction ... and working-too-hard ... and religion ... and spirituality ... and depression ... and anxiety ... and psychological imbalances ... and suicides? And just merely-existing, eeking out a "living" rather than truly living life ...?

What if we ARE connected? What if we DO need each other? What if we need to give each other, and receive from each other, more attention, affection, acknowledgement, appreciation, affirmation, and authentic expression of who we truly are...?

What if we're not just emotionally malnourished ... but actually starving?

I don't know about you -- but I'm gonna keep on being intensely too-much, too-open, and too-loving.

Even if/when it's misunderstood ... even if/when it's not always returned.

Work it Out ~ The Only Way Out is THROUGH

Ahhhhh ... wanting to re-member-with some familiar-but-forgotten quotes ... take them into you, if they stir you ... or if they irk you:

“Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don't have to like it... it's just easier if you do.” ― Byron Katie

“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.” ― Byron Katie

“Don't believe every thing you think.” ― Byron Katie

“I am a lover of what is, not because I'm a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.” ― Byron Katie

“Nothing comes ahead of its time, and nothing ever happened that didn't need to happen.” ― Byron Katie

“Our parents, our children, our spouses, and our friends will continue to press every button we have, until we realize what it is that we don't want to know about ourselves, yet. They will point us to our freedom every time.” ― Byron Katie

“When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.” ― Byron Katie

“Whatever it takes for you to find your freedom, that's what you've lived.” ― Byron Katie

“An unquestioned mind is the world of suffering.” ― Byron Katie

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Blessing & Curse of Great Potential ...

I am a walking, breathing, self-contradicting dichotomy.

With a penchant for redundancy ...

I was born as the first-born of first-borns (even though Dad had an older brother; Dad played the role of the eldest, but that's his story, and not mine) ... into a family of high-achievers ... who more than strove ... they actually achieved.

Expectations were high for me - including being expected to "just know" how to do things ... I wasn't taught how to do the basics ... but I was disciplined (code word for "punished") when I didn't do them, or didn't do them "right". (I have thus spent the last few years of my life, on my own for the first time, learning to do the basic life skills that most folks are forced to learn in their early 20's ... the learning curve has been inordinately steep, and festooned with shame-festing.)

I remember hearing, "what is *wrong* with you?!?" Implying, of course, that something was terribly wrong with me. I didn't know what it was ... it wasn't mentioned. It had to be something deeply, inherently, fundamentally wrong. A fatal flaw. I was terminally unique. I also heard, "You are such a defeatest." Well, yes. A child who believes they are fatally-flawed is afraid to try ...

And I knew I had to hide this -- I couldn't let others know about my flaw, my badness. They might hate me, reject me, banish me, forsake me.

I developed a few strategies, very early on ... I tried so so so SO hard to be *good*. Or at least, good enough, to escape being reminded of how bad I am. At age three (I remember my age, because my sister, three and a half years younger than me, had not-yet been born), screwing my my courage to approach my parents, and asking them if I had been "good enough" that day. I had to know. I didn't want to find out the hard way, so it seemed better to face it head-on. I was three. Somehow, I already knew this.

My other strategy was to dazzle 'em. Whoever. Whatever it took ... I could grin, and laugh, and dance, and sing, and recite poetry on the coffee-table-stage, dressed in my best dress ... anything to fool anyone that I was ok. That I was good enough. So that I didn't get banished.

And, when those didn't work, or when I was afraid they wouldn't, I hid. I gathered up some small toys, and hid, under the dining room table, playing safely and quietly behind the long tablecloth ... and, when I was older, in the woods, or by a creek, or up in the sanctuary of a tree. Hidden. Quiet. Safe.

All my life, I have felt like an impostor ... a hypocrite. A pretender. Comparing my insides to everyone else's outsides, and always, ALL ways, coming up short. Alternating between trying my damndest, and giving up in utter exhaustion ... why bother if I just can't be good enough? Why give my all, and find out I'm *that* inept ... why not hold back, hide, retreat, and tell myself, "well, I didn't really give it all I had."

ALL this potential ... I was supposedly smart, and pretty, and capable, and disciplined, and special, and privileged, and talented. But I felt so less-than ... I was the girl with the best-friends who were gorgeous, and brilliant, and uber-talented ... while I was pretty (sometimes), and smart (to a degree) and could play the understudy or the back-up singer ... I was the army-brat who moved a lot, and never quite fit in with the "cool kids" ... I was the invisible "good girl" who didn't get the attention or the dates ... I was the late-bloomer who was passed over.

And ... I was taken care-of ... I was protected, and sheltered, and trained in how to be a wife and mother (even though I was told I could "be anything I wanted to be" when I grew up). I became incredibly dependent - a kept woman ... afraid to try ("if I don't get it right, I will be punished").

I have this taunting, haunting judge in my head ... it says, "you are inept ... you are pathetic ... you are incapable ... you don't have what it takes ... you're not going to make it ... you are unworthy of being loved ..."

I live with that voice, and other fear-based, pain-soaked voices, in my head. They meet me most mornings, greeting my first conscious awareness with a viciously voracious onslaught ... they creep into bed with me in the middle of the night ... they sing me to sleep ... they find me, in odd moments, throughout the day ... sneakily slithering up my spine ... rendering me paralyzed ... unearthed by seemingly unconnected triggers, as I go through the motions.

Those overwhelmingly under-towing waves of unrelenting, nebulous fears ... impending doom warnings ... as if a tidal wave, or a tiger, were bearing down on me ... "run! fight! hide! save yourself!" ... and there's nothing there, but these hangover emotions ... this back-ground dirge-music of fear ... that there's something horribly wrong ... with me ... and that there's nothing to be done about it. OH but the power of those conditioned nuances!

And yet ... I know I have this untapped potential ... I see that I am intelligent ... that I am able to connect diverse dots, to create a Whole-image, and that I'm gifted at being able to describe what I see, using word-pictures, so that others can join me in grasping the emerging concept; I see that I have an eye for beauty, that shows up in how I decorate and arrange my surroundings; I see that I am gifted with an eye for color, that I discovered my latent ability to paint, to bring beauty out of common objects; I see that I can empathize, and emote and express what others are feeling and thinking; I see that I am able to engage an audience, with theatre, with public speaking, with story-telling; I see that I am able to connect, deeply, with other human beings; I see that I am able to love strongly, unconditionally and lavishly ... a gift that has been borne out of the heartbreak of previous rejections. I see that I am resilient, and tenacious, and relentless in being myself, in not compromising who I am discovering myself to be. I see that I am a passionate seeker of truth, of freedom, of expression, and of authentic living.

I see that I am both terrified of life ... and yet I long to live it as fully as is possible!

I see that I am a complexly-ordinary, complicatedly-simple, messily-beautiful, mundanely-exciting, fucked-up-perfection of a woman ... all this baggage ... all this potential ... what a glorious mess of a rawly-resolute human being I am ...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sexual Purity ... What IS It ...?

Sexuality is a hot topic.

(moment of silence for all the resonating "duh's"...)

A heated discussion about "purity" came up on Facebook, about the value of "waiting 'til marriage" ... and "holding out for purity" ... and all manner of other expectations that we have, culturally and variously, about the "shoulds" of sex. Not only "shoulds" prior to marriage/partnership, but within it to ... expectations, fears, shame, insecurities, rejection, control, manipulation, punishment, rules, restrictions, limitations ... all of which limits who we are, and how we can freely express that.

It was asked: Why is sex the one natural drive that we are supposed to suppress?

I ask: who came up with this notion of "purity" ... what does it really mean, is it valid, or an archaic-and-now-obsolete concept, and does it have ANYthing to do with humans in the first place...? AND, how can we guide our children through this morass, particularly when we're navigating those waters ourselves...?

Sooooo ... my (randomly-meandering) thoughts:

"Purity" is a false standard based on the erroneous belief that something is wrong/tainted about us, and that sex is dirty (think of our words, "your mind is in the gutter"). Why would we not, instead say, "my mind was just soaring the heights"...?

We do this, because we FEAR the raw power of sex (women have been taught to fear losing control, surrendering ... & men have been taught to fear and suppress the sexual capacity/power of women, for millennia). We fear the vulnerability of exposing ourselves ... of being naked before another - not just in the exposure of our body, but in baring our hearts, minds, souls, shadows, secrets ... those deep places that we both fear to expose, and yet LONG to expose. Ah, that hunger to see and be seen ... and to risk the pain of rejection, in order to experience an accepting-connection.

We have been trained to be "destination-focused" in sexuality, rather than "journey-focused" ... going after that orgasmic-prize ... so we trade in the present-moment joy, in pursuit of a goal (of course, we do this with the totality of life).

Sexuality, as I see and experience it, is our primary energy, as humans ... and it totally merges with our spirituality -- we are both divinity and humanity (think of upper/"heavenly" and lower/"earthly" chakras; and they *meet* at the heart). My sexuality IS my spirituality; the divine/human-dichotomy that enables me to be alive. ALL life begins with an orgasm - no exception. Making love to another human being, with whom my heart is connected is THE most spiritual thing I can do with my body. It is THE most transformative healing-tool on the planet (for authentic intimacy will bring up *every* thing within me that "objects" and says I am not worthy of such a beautiful experience). It is THE most intimate and powerful way of expressing love to another.

It does NOT require a judge's signature, or a pastor's homily, or the exchange of rings, or the recitation of vows, or ANY aspect of the humanly-invented institution we call "marriage" to render us "pure" or to give us *permission* to do that which our bodies were clearly designed/created/intended to DO.

What I want most, for me and for my children, is to find a partner with whom they are matched and connected (heart/mind/soul/body), and to explore the beauty of sexuality with an open heart, an eager soul, a free mind and an enraptured body, and to enJOY every possible nuance of that experience.

Only they (& each one of us) knows when that has happened. Only they truly know when they are ready. And yes, it may, like all other learning-experiences (from walking to working, to mastering a new skill) require a great deal of trial and error (i.e., "mistakes" - THE vehicle by which we learn ANYthing), to discover who they are, who they are not, what they want, what they do not want. WithOUT the burden of shame, judgement and punishment.

What if true "purity" is the commitment to authentically be who we are?

It starts with the basics (what I tell myself, my children, anyone else): love yourself (without which you cannot love another); know yourself; trust yourself; honor yourself and the other; be responsible and response-able; communicate openly; express uninhibitedly; indulge lavishly; be aware and wise about that small window of time in which pregnancy can occur, so act accordingly. Learn what pleases you, and what pleases the other, laugh, play, explore, and dance that beautiful, powerful, reciprocally-mergering, giving-and-receiving blur-dance of uberly-utter BLISS-out, because you were *made* to do so...! *~YES!!!!~*

(that had a lovely crescendo-effect, as I got caught up in what I was writing ... not unlike the energy of sexuality, itself! Whew! Now I want to cuddle!)