When Self-Care is Required

Right Relationship

D

ear Miracles: The notion of self-care is one that many of us who are called to be of service both preach to clients and those we assist, while then turning around and not taking the time to do it for ourselves. It was best explained to me like this: if a little child was tugging on your skirt and saying, please feed me I’m hungry, please let me rest, I’m sleepy, we would do so, in a heartbeat. And yet. When it comes to our own needs, rhythms, cycles, and creature comforts so often it is a constant mantra of “wait just a little longer.” Wait just a little longer until this final paragraph is finished and then you can have lunch. Wait just a bit longer until the final stroke of paint is applied and then we can go to the bathroom. Wait just a little bit longer until there is more money in the bank, less war in the world, no suffering and then finally, maybe, you can rest.

As someone who has had a history of driving her body to the brink of exhaustion I relate to this, strongly. And yet as I have matured and now especially that I am a mother, I see that the old saying about an ounce of prevention is so very true. This lesson really came home to me last March — I was attending an intense workshop led by two of my teachers. For three days we were deeply immersed in other world work and then it was back to work for me, seeing and speaking with clients, creating ritual, lighting candles — doing all of the work that I so love to do. I knew by the third day that two days from now I would not be ready to speak to clients as I would still be allowing the words, ideas, images, and promises made to settle into the many layers of skin. So I doubled up on my vitamins, took extra supplements, made good use of my flower essences, and allowed myself to simply be, to rest, to make soup, read novels, and listen to music. It worked so well that I have started building in these little moments into my weeks and months.

In the Waldorf educational system they refer to these moments as “in-breaths” and I really love that. For every out-breath, outer activity, external engagement, social event there must be an equal in-breath — a time to reflect, relax, and recollect ourselves. We are often told to do these things so that we may go forth and be of service — the illustration of the oxygen mask is one I have both used and heard others use too, you know the old canard, put your mask on first and then assist your child? But I think it goes deeper than that. If we do not know how to serve ourselves, if we cannot make the time to care for our own bodies, then our service to others is but a shadow of what it might be.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

In Praise of the Midnight Snack & Touching the Divine

Right Relationship

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ear Miracles: Snuggled up in bed between my man and my baby, I was immersed in some sweet dream when the little one started to kick and cry out. I felt a wet weight by my leg and reached down to find the bottle of coconut milk he had snacked on right before bedtime…so I gave it to him. Perfection. He went right back to sleep and started giggling at some sweet baby dream, reminding me of the every day miracle of the midnight snack.

You know, when you wake up and tiptoe into the kitchen because you are hungry now. And you choose to honor that hunger-possibly even to celebrate that hunger in the moment instead of waiting for a more “responsible” time, like breakfast. A midnight snack has always struck me as a creative feast — but more…it has struck me as a great analogy for touching the Divine.

Because the Divine shows up when She shows up — whether we have been waiting or not, whether we are prepared or not.

Because the Divine touches our lives usually when its least expected-we wanted Him there for our grandfather’s funeral but we feel His presence at 2pm on a Tuesday.

Because the Divine is bigger than any form, shape or name — It shows up like our hunger-unexpected, unbidden, and its our choice to honor that or not.

 Honor your hunger and take a bite!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

When the Answer is NO

Right Relationship

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ear Miracles: Let us now discuss one of the hardest words to hear and take to heart, short and phonetically simple, but one that most of us spend our entire lives grappling with — NO.

The guy that just won’t call you back.

The lady that gently refuses all advances.

The ex who isn’t going to return to you-not now, not ever.

The boss who sits you down to tell you why they went with your co-worker for the promotion.

Your friend who picked the other person to go to the party with.

The poem that got rejected.

Calls that weren’t made, letters that weren’t written, paths not taken. NO.

 

Sometimes the answer is simply no.

NO can be painful, soul crushing, a sucker punch to the solar plexus, a smacking your face right up against the sheer cliff of reality-where faith seems very small indeed.

NO can be liberating, freeing, a gleaming, bright truth that you can set your lights by and follow to a deep(er) & true(er) sense of direction, purpose, joy.

In my own experience NO is something I hate to hear-and when I look back a year later, I am almost always thankful that I did hear it — thankful for the doors that have closed firmly and finally in my face. Thankful that option was taken off the table. Happy to have that path once and for all decided on as the one I will not be traveling this lifetime, thank you very much.

NO requires a sharp intake of breath, a sizzle of electricity over the skin, the bottom of your stomach falling out, a moment to mourn for what could have been. You can stay there-in that hopeless place for as long as you choose.

Or you can rise up to meet NO with “what if…”, “could it be…”, “maybe now…”.

NO can challenge you to stretch yourself, go upside down, turn it around, STOP engaging in actions and behaviors that do not serve you or those around you.

NO might just free up your energy to get on with doing what you really need to be doing.

My advice when confronted with a NO?

Don’t let it suck your faith out of you. Consider that your faith might be deeper & more full of grace than you ever knew-and that this NO might just be the beginning of you getting down to business and doing what you really need to be doing in this one, sweet, short life.

Meet it. Face it.

My prayer for you then is this: Take the power of NO for your own, put it to work for you and don’t give yourself, your passion, your faith over to it.

You never know what is just around the bend & its not what you are told — it is what you do with it that makes all the difference.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Bhakti & Devoting Yourself

Learning and Community

D

ear Miracles: My prayer for you today: Be devoted. Absolutely, unequivocally and expansively.

I have ended a week at the Upaya Zen Center were I sat zazen several times a day and studied at the heels of a truly great writing teacher. The mantra that I took away from this experience is: keep your pen moving. It is one way of saying: Be. Devoted. 

Devotion can often come across as a grand thing — high minded and a bit abstract. Let me ground the idea in a true story — one of my own personal encounters with Devotion. In 2007 I was living and working in San Francisco. My husband and I lived in a shoebox apartment at the south end of the city, a place not even legally zoned as an apartment, that was how small it was, and money was tighter than a girdle after Christmas dinner. One night in the bookstore where I worked I had the door open and was listening to the city evening sounds of Hayes Valley while I sat inside reading the Bhagavad Gita. I heard a sound over the street noises and the weeping violins of Bach. At my feet was a small mourning dove with a badly injured wing. The bird was obviously frightened and scurried her way over to the speakers and radio — somehow getting inside of the radio itself. Finally, I was able to wedge her out and put her into an empty cardboard box. My husband showed up at closing to take me home, saw the wounded bird, and knew that we had a new addition to the family. Years of rushing wounded creatures from Santa Fe to the Espanola animal shelter had taught him that he had fallen in love with an animal loving (and occasional custodian-taking) gal. The mourning dove came home with us and I called her Bhakti — the Sanskrit word for devotion and a central theme in the Gita as well as a play on “Bach.”

Trips to the vet ensued and they told me that Bhakti’s wing would have to come off as it was too damaged to save. The price tag was steep at a time when money was short. One look at Bhakti’s grey feathers and blue lidded eyes and I said “yes”—I would find a way to make it work and I did. She had shown up at my feet needing care and I was dedicated to seeing this through. I can only thank my beloved for being the most understanding and tolerant partner ever. The wing came off even though the vets both felt like it was a waste of money and made no attempt to hide their feelings from me. Her fleshy pink and raw wing nub eventually healed and feathered out again. She was never comfortable being held but loved it when my husband played the guitar. Her years with us were full of fun and laughter and love, she continued a lesson that creatures have been teaching me forever — to love even more and that is the crux of devotion. Loving More.

I learned to through Bhakti that devotion finds you. You do not have to go looking for up and even if you did you might not recognize it—Devotion does not appear the way we think it should, it is what it is — an absolute and non-negotiable request that we do our best, walk our talk, love with our whole and not just a part, not just when it is convenient or easy.

Life is short and death is certain, it grows closer with every breath you take. Devote yourself now. Absolutely. Completely. Don’t hold anything back, just get on with it.

 

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.