sometimes, love feels heavy

I have been thinking a lot about relationships.

Relationships are a part of life and I love relationships… in theory. In my personal life, relationships have astonished me with how messy they are. I’ve often been able to visualize healthier ways for situations to go, but in the moment of contrast, things can get pretty strange and uncomfortable.

I’ve noticed that a lot of us are walking in active trauma. From that active trauma, we’re trying to create relationships that feel beautiful and nourishing and safe.

But, love isn’t safe.

As someone who tends to love “too much”, I’ve been surprised by certain invitations to heartbreak. Friends have been less than friendly, children have been less than child-like. Relationships are intense and amazing and tricky. If you are someone who wants and encourages people to be their full self in relationship with you, you have to hold space for the fact that sometimes that “full self” wants nothing to do with you and your desires around relationship.

In this season of my life, I’m aware that love isn’t safe. I don’t have to blinded by love in order deal with someone’s less than stellar attributes. I can see the person clearly, with all their faults, and still love them and accept them.

But, not everyone is in that space. And, the part of relationships that I’ve been noticing and working with over the past decade is being able to endure the limitations people in my life have around love and not letting it diminish either my light or my love.

For most of my life, I was surrounded by people who viewed love as a transaction. Transactional love encompasses a lot of limitations, as it is rooted in a normalization of deficiency. What happens when you don’t agree that love has anything to do with deficiency?

The typical human being may use love as a tool rather than a way of being. When love is conceptualized as a tool, it will too often be used as a weapon. Don’t allow that reality to dominate your awareness of what love is really about.

Love is abundance and not everyone feels they can carry abundance around. They don’t yet understand that abundance isn’t supposed to be carried. It’s not something you do, it’s something that simply is. It’s not something you choose, it’s reality.

This is why, now, when someone cannot tolerate my love, cannot meet my love with love, I don’t question what I did wrong. I don’t wallow in guilt or shame, confusion or depression. Instead, I continue to walk in love, ready for the next person I come across. And, ready for when that person who rejected me is ready to come back and try, again.

True love is like a light; it is a light. It shines, and its shine is not diminished by the blindness of the person encountering it.

My only prayer is that the blind person is able to see soon and that I am thankful that I was once blind and now can see. Love can feel heavy and blinding when we don’t yet understand what it really is. But, that’s okay. Those of us who know will keep shining.

walk in beauty

Walking in Beauty: Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony
In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
Hózhóogo naasháa dooShitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa dooShikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa dooShideigi hózhóogo naasháa dooT’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa dooHózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Today I will walk out, today everything negative will leave me
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.
In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful…

shared from here

phenomenal

According to an Oxford dictionary, the word “phenomenal” has 2 main definitions or uses.

very remarkable; extra-ordinary

and

perceptible by the senses or through immediate experience

I find this fascinating!

Ordinarily, we might assume that something perceived through our senses isn’t remarkable, but if we think, again, it certainly is. The fact that we can perceive anything at all is an extra-ordinary feat.

This morning, I heard my teacher use “phenomenal” the second way and it struck me how significant it is to be able to perceive our world and our selves, at all. When we focus upon awareness and live our lives from a space of observation rather than dominance and control, we find that almost every, little thing in this life is remarkable. We become like little children, delighting in everything we perceive because it’s all new to us. Every interaction becomes a new and beautiful and wonder-full event in our lives!

This is my favorite aspect of living with young children, especially toddlers. We have the opportunity to refresh our minds and our thoughts, because they bring to our awareness that everything is amazing! Every aspect of life is mind-blowing!

Thankfully, we can draw this energy to ourselves every day, even without toddlers running about. It’s truly phenomenal.

make magic

I hope this day finds you crying.

Crying out in laughter, tears streaming down your howling face.

Crying with tears of love, your heart radiating so brightly it hides the sun in the sky.

Cry tears of grief that leave room for the sweetness you missed while lamenting the bitters.

Cry out in the pain of birthing a new you, stomping upon fallen, wet leaves within the forest of your mind.

May you leave your mind and find a space that calls out for your voice, your tears creating new rivers and oceans, like the Mothers of olde.

Surely, you realize this Earth is no mistake. She exists because women like you, women with their tears and love and anguish and joy, have always existed.

Thank you for continuing the tradition of crying, for tears contain salt and salt has always been a healer and cleanser.

The salt of this Earth is women like you.

You, woman.

pray not prey

What if every word we utter is a prayer? (And, it is.)

What are you praying for? The Divine loves you so much that your devoted wish is practically a command.

Know, then, that your words matter.

Know, then, that “no” is just as much a conviction as “yes”.

So many people will tell you that the Universe doesn’t hear “no”. If you repeat, “Not this. Not this. Not this.”, they say the Universe only hears, “This. This. This.”

Blasphemy.

When have the Universe and the Divine not been One? And, the Divine hears and honors all “no”s. All of them.

The problem isn’t the “no”. The “no” is perfect. Perfectly whole. But, not perfectly complete.

The Divine works in completion.

So, while “Not this” is a perfectly whole prayer, it is not a complete player.

The Universe works in completion.

There is no lack of movement in the Universe. You can stop. For a time, you can stop. But, there must be some movement in a direction after stopping.

All stops are pauses.

And, the movement after the stop, after the pause… you get to decide the direction. But, if you have not chosen a direction, you will feel like the Universe has only heard “This” when you said “Not this.”

This is the beauty of living.

You are in control. You don’t have total control, because this life is generous to ALL of us. Simultaneously, all of us are co-creating, generating, praying.

Do you know you’re praying? Do you know your whispers are written in triplicate, copied a billion times over for the benefit of all?

When you know, do you change your words? Do you shift your utterances, lifting all of humanity in a verbal embrace?

Words are prayers of healing.

How many of us are healing by death?

the peace pilgrim

I never think of myself as protesting against something, but rather as witnessing for harmonious living. Those who witness for, present solutions. Those who witness against, usually do not– they dwell on what is wrong, resorting to judgment and criticism and sometimes even name-calling.

Peace Pilgrim

love is a given

What do you deserve?

Who is going to give it to you?

I grew up with those questions asked along materialistic lines. Lately, I’ve been asking myself those questions as they pertain to relationships.

Personally, I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in the form of relationships. The people who claim to care the most about me have, historically, been the most dangerous people in my life. At a certain point, something so traumatic happened to me that I chose to push the reset button on my life.

Since then, I have made dramatic changes and blossomed into a much happier version of myself. I have a lot to appreciate.

Many, many moons ago, I began asking myself what I deserved, because I felt so resentful. Resentment is often the result of not getting what feels one deserves. And, I was pretty justified in feeling resentment, but I didn’t want that feeling to define my existence.

Feeling a way that makes sense, given what you’ve been through, and choosing to not prioritize feeling that way, anymore, is a paradigm shift. And, paradigm shifts often feel painful and/or destabilizing. Because they are.

So many of us just become what we were programmed to be by the choices of others. If I look at what I was programmed to be, I see two, distinct potentials. I was programmed to be stereotypically successful in a capitalistic society. Meaning, I should be a highly paid professional right now. I had the grades and aptitude for it. But, I knew that wouldn’t make me happy. I was much more interested in justice and humanity than I was in power and control.

The other thing I was programmed to be is… broken. I was programmed to always put others first, no matter how much they abused me. I was programmed to feel ashamed of myself. I was programmed to follow the rules, even when they hurt me and others. I was programmed to accept much less while giving much more.

I was programmed for defeat.

So, how was I going to be successful and defeated? I wasn’t, unless I underwent a serious bout of narcissism. You have to develop a personality disorder to become successful materially while being broken emotionally.

Instead, I chose to live as human a life as possible. I didn’t know what I was doing, because I wasn’t raised around or by people who prioritized their humanity. But, I just kept moving in the direction that felt true for me.

I did a pretty decent job considering I didn’t know how to have healthy relationships. And, at the foundation of all human dignity is healthy relationship. Relationship with others, relationship with self, relationship with the natural world.

When I pushed the reset button on my life, I began to focus upon relationships. As a result, I gained a lot of clarity around how dysfunctional most of the people in my life were, how dysfunctional I was. Clearing up that dysfunction has been the primary focus of the past decade of my life.

I’m doing a pretty decent job considering there are so many dysfunctional people to choose from.

Since I’m highly analytical, I’ve been reading about and watching non-dysfunctional people. I’ve been studying how non-dysfunctional people make decisions and choose relationships. I’ve been understanding dysfunction in a new way. I’ve been accepting that it’s truly challenging to be non-dysfunctional in a dysfunctional society.

But, it’s definitely possible.

The more I grappled with dysfunction, the more I grappled with trauma. The more I grappled with trauma, the more I grappled with empathy. The more I grappled with empathy, the more I grappled with compassion. The more I grappled with compassion, the more I grappled with fear. The more I grappled with fear, the more I grappled with my understanding of love.

I realized that we, as a modern society, understand very little about love.

I have moved from focusing upon dysfunction and healing to focusing upon embodying love. What does that look like? When we say we love someone, what do we really mean?

I have found that the love of someone living from a traumatized mentality means very little, indeed. But the love of someone who embodies Self-love means just as little. That’s the paradox of love.

Love isn’t the thing. Love is the EVERYthing.

I think once we understand that, we start to realize that using love as an excuse to hold on when we need to let go is a lie. That’s not love. Love just is. Love has no parameters or expectations, it simply exists.

Because of that, love does not end.

Now, when I ask myself what I deserve, I think about love. “Is this the most loving version of this relationship?” If not, what do I want to do?

“Is this the most loving version of this moment?” If not, what do I want to do?

I have accepted that love doesn’t need to be given. It simply exists. So, when I ask myself what I deserve… it’s love. And, when I ask myself who is going to give it to me… it’s me. And, it’s life. And, no one needs to give it to me because it’s a given. What I’ve come to realize is that when I think I’m grappling with love, I’m really just grappling with the barriers to love.

And, sometimes, those barriers look like people. And, I choose not to grapple with people I love, anymore. If we cannot love without conflict or barriers, let us love outside of conflict and barriers.

I’ve accepted that that sometimes feels like a lack of love to the other person. But, truth is not reliant upon feelings. That’s part of the beauty of everything true.

(it is not) enough

Are you centered?

Are you grounded?

Do you know how to live a centered, grounded life?

Do you know how to become centered, grounded at will?

It is not enough to know things. Data. Scientific knowledge. These are nothing but tools. And, tools in the hands of a madman are weapons.

You were born with tools that are still relevant, regardless of what is going on in the world. You don’t need to rely upon the tools of (hu)mankind, because you have the tools of humanity.

The tools of humanity are:

radical love

curiosity

breath

movement

creativity

None of these tools can be turned against the possessor without the possessor’s permission. What we call the mind is truly curiosity. When thinking ceases being curious and remains constant in a particular direction outside of curiosity, the mind is now the mindless.

We use our creativity outside of curiosity combined with breath and radical love, and we create needless chaos.

Chaos often looks like rules. Rules that should be followed no matter what. Rules that have paradoxes built into them.

Many will tell you life, itself, is chaos. But, what evidence do we have of that? The acts of humankind are often chaotic, but humankind has moved outside of life. Humankind has sought, for many years, to control and manipulate life rather than be an example of life. That is chaos at its finest.

The idolatry of the human mind, of human thought, is the misuse of humanity’s tools and will always lead to more harm than benefit. We are not the epitome of life; therefore, our thinking is not the epitome of thought.

We idolize ourselves to our own peril.

Let us put down the tools of (hu)mankind. Those tools are:

righteousness

fear

comparison

polarity

condemnation

These are the tools (weapons) of an imperfect being striving for unattainable perfection. Radical love can assimilate any of those tools (weapons).

Because radical love is an inherently assimilating force and our human nature is radical love, we are always striving toward assimilation… even when we are allowing our humanity to be weaponized.

Assimilation is not the opposite of individualism. Assimilation as a result of radical love does not mean we all became the same. It simply means we all become one. And, since we are all one, anyway, radical love does not alter our status.

Radical love simply enhances what is already here.

Have you ever been in love with someone and they looked so very beautiful and attractive to you? But, when you were no longer in love with that person, you looked at them and wondered what you ever saw in them.

That is the power of radical love. It helps us to see the beauty all around us and enhances our powers of attraction. But, the attraction is only for everyone’s benefit. That is what healing is all about.

Radical love is the simplest antidote to idolatry.

Will you try it?

photo courtesy of Will O at unsplash

permission to disagree

The internet is a fascinating space full of thoughts. Thoughts and ideas of all sorts abound on the internet, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the comment sections.

I love comment sections, but I have to be in the mood to peruse them. I have to know myself and be content within my current emotional state in order to handle the comment sections with any finesse and grace.

Comment sections are the canvas of your global asshole’s pièce de résistance. You can find so much underbelly in the comment sections. But, underbelly makes the best bacon.

Bacon is a great euphemism for how we all manage our cultural differences. Pork bacon is controversial on the global front. Those who live in their own cultural bubbles may not realize it, but a great number of humans have never eaten pork bacon. For those in those cultural bubbles, pork bacon is the standard. Until turkey bacon was a thing, folks who eat pork probably had no idea there were other sorts of bacon.

I grew up eating beef bacon and I maintain that pork bacon can never compare. Pork bacon is too salty and too wasteful. It’s mostly fat and don’t we all know that the body stores toxins in fat? And, that pigs are literally fed anything? Most pork bacon stinks when you cook it. I rarely buy it, but when I do, I only buy organic pork bacon. It doesn’t stink up my house and it tastes a lot better.

It’s also expensive. Turns out, treating pigs like living beings worthy of the best life has to offer (if you can obtain the best within captivity) is not popular among the folks who eat them. I have grown to see that you can tell a lot about a pork-eating people by the way they treat their pigs. If their pigs are used as corpulent dumpsters, you know what kind of value system you’re working within. It will tell you a lot about their society.

I don’t want that pork bacon to be the standard for anything. Do you?

Christians are not, technically, supposed to eat pork, but you can’t tell that by looking in most of their refrigerators. Then, there are cultural Jews, ethnic Jews, and religious Jews. They all have the pork conversation. (I don’t know what happened to the Hebrews.) And, Muslims, of course, don’t eat pork. Except when they hang around Christians too much. And, try to be too American.

Pork is an entire thing, is my point.

One of my favorite things about Zen Buddhists is that they don’t eat meat… unless it’s offered. Like, there’s an entire vegetarian expectation, but if you’re not the one killing or buying the animal flesh, don’t be too picky. Some religions would have you believe you’re going to suffer through all eternity if you don’t follow the dietary dictates. Zen Buddhists are like “calm your tits”. Around food, anyway. Still not okay for the monks to touch a woman.

So much disagreement among humans about what’s most important, isn’t there? Isn’t it beautiful?

I find it nourishing and humbling and gorgeous that there is so much variety of thought and behavior among human beings. “Harm none and do what you will” is a completely ridiculous notion, but it’s the guiding notion of many of us.

We are all harming someone. Most often, ourselves.

And, that’s okay. I think to accept that you, a human being, are a harmful entity no matter how much you attempt not to be can be a realization of freedom. But, that, too, is dependent upon personal stance. Some of us thoroughly enjoy being hard on ourselves. We don’t like giving ourselves grace.

As someone who enjoys freedom, I’ve come to respect restriction. I’ve come to accept that sometimes, expansion feels overwhelming and people need walls to feel comfortable and safe. The rules and strictures we apply to our lives are a skin. Some of us shed our skin regularly. Some of us remain small. Some of us simply add more skin as we grow.

One of my favorite lines in a song can be found in Christian rapper KB’s song I Am Not the One. He says, “It ain’t a thick skin, it’s a new heart.” I have found that the nuance of that line is where I have landed. In comments sections, in deli sections, in relative time and space, I have learned that the skin is less important than the heart. If the heart is calibrated correctly, the skin becomes less of an issue.

With that heart, disagreement becomes a pleasure, an example of how beautifully diverse we are. I don’t need or want your agreement; I want to know your heart.

No matter where we stand on the question of pork bacon, we all have hearts. I love to see even the closed ones. Don’t you?