Every year on Winter Solstice I try to meditate on a word. It is the closest I come to a New Year's resolution. Last year's word was "presence" and, admittedly, I did a piss poor job with that one. Rather than beat myself up about it (anymore than I have already), I am concluding that perhaps presence just isn't for me, at least in the new agey sense that is so popular these days. It is sort of like phrase "let it go" for me. I'm more of an "own it" type person, but along with that comes a whole host of other feelings and tendencies that dog me daily.
Honestly, this year I was contemplating not even thinking about a word. So many things have changed in my life in the last 365 days, while others have remained utterly the same. I've had time for life to gel and I have my wits back about me, but I am still in a state of flux in terms of how/where I want to land on a more permanent basis. I feel like I'm still renting a life right now, actually. Is it a bit closer to who I am? Sure, but my suitcases are not fully unpacked. I've not completely nested because I can't. I'm not yet to my destination and I've invested all in the transfer station (AKA my residence and surroundings) that I'm going to invest on any substantial basis. I am simply maintaining what I have and planning the next leg of my journey.
So, as Solstice rolled around and I found myself, yet again, in some odd state of regret and fear I got to thinking about owning things, about presence, about letting go... And a lightning bolt smacked me in the head and I realized that my words and thoughts are categorized into those that are passive and those that demand (at least by my definition) action. So, presence to me, is a passive state, and for me it simply doesn't work. That isn't to say it doesn't work for others. It just doesn't reflect the way my mind operates.
Letting go doesn't work either. To me, it is a state of defeat. I know (logically) it isn't. But, in my mind it means surrender and that is not something I do well. And I know that part of "growth" is to explore and embrace what we don't do well, but again, in my mind and in my own cellular make-up my soul speaks to me to use my darkness, to sit with it, acknowledge it, speak to it and engage it. So, if I can't wrap my head around letting go, I instead wrap my head around owning stuff and then purposefully, ritualistically, putting it to rest. For a supposedly free-flowing Pisces all this has always been really bothersome to me - this need for forward movement and action. I almost feel like my birth certificate was forged.
Anyway - I digress. So, enter a particularly odd conversation I was having with myself the other day while visioning this farm I hope to find (and move to) in 2016.
I was thinking about a lot of things and I got around to discussing in my head all the fear, sorrow, guilt, social norms, expectations (self imposed or outside), the past, the perceived future, despair, sadness, hopelessness, anger, uncertainty (goes along with fear because really, isn't everything technically uncertain?), fodder (in person and on-line), pain, mindlessness, abuse, personal shortcomings and other things that go bump in the night, the word liberation popped into my head.
What an odd word to pop into that conversation. Such an active and aggressive word for a downtrodden conversation. I felt it must be important and so it became my word. I felt it SO important I was moved to name a new page after it. A word of action. A word of work, of toil, sweat, tears and freedom. Freedom from whatever it is that holds a us back from living an uncommon life full of one's own individual soul. So full we are drunk on her and unafraid of what she wants (or doesn't want). So brave that we ask her first if this or that serves her instead of automatically acquiescing because it is learned, habitual and expected.
The task is daunting. When I think about everything I've listed above I realize that there are a million things I need to leave behind in order to continue to grow. So many comforts I need to shed, so many useless things that no longer serve me. Sometimes I wonder if I walk away from them all, will there actually be anything left of me? Am I simply made up of all the things I fear, all the guilt that drives me? Am I Catholic and just don't know it? Honestly though, there is an enormous amount of it all and I fear (there is that word again) that if all the things I'm desperate to be rid of are actually gone I'll just blow away like burned paper...
So, obviously, I'm not sure where liberation will lead me. The only oppressing tyrant that looms over me is of my own making. Choices and turns in the road that stretches out behind me have become my dictator, my jailer. I have a mountain to climb and it is, for the most part, all within the constraints of my own mind. Alas, time marches on. Welcome, New Year.
...of course just look at the hype closely because all of that stuff translates to a big expensive house with a picket fence and nothing on the counters, a spotless vehicle (expensive too), children who never have stains on their clothes and have impeccable manners, pets who are the same (if they wear clothes; if not I guess they should not fart or chew up your rugs ever), a great body, a mate with a great body, yoga pants that cost half a paycheck and make your butt look fabulous, an awesome job, the ability to travel to remote and exotic locations to do yoga in those expensive yoga pants…should I go on?
Balance has become a joke. And a marketing scam. The truth is that in life there is rarely balance. To strive for it, even if you don’t fall for the hype, may just be more stress than it is worth. Honestly, maybe life shouldn’t be balanced. Life reflects our needs and our souls (hopefully) so when you have a need or things speak to your soul those things are automatically going to take priority over other things. You put your children first. That isn’t balance. But, it is important to you and it speaks to your soul. You want more than anything to paint, or to write. Then there is going to be little time for other things. That isn’t balance. But it is what you need in order to be whole.
I have felt for a long time that the whole “balance” movement is simply another way of shaming us into something that really isn’t natural (or needed) in the first place. I think that seeking balance in the manner society attempts to dictate it doesn’t necessarily make our lives more meaningful, transversely I believe it can actually make them less. This seeking minimizes what we truly want (and possibly what our own souls truly need). For years I played the balance game at the expense of my soul. I tried to fit all those things in that are supposed to matter, that I am supposed to do, consider everyone and their feelings and divvy up my time amongst 12 different priorities in order to achieve balance. And my soul eventually said “fuck this” and left for a good long while.
I’m not saying that we should all be selfish to the point of mistreating others but we have to ask ourselves if we include US as one of the others that we are considering in this juggling act of balance? And if so, just how much consideration are we giving to ourselves as compared to every other thing on the list? I think that most of us will find, if we are brutally honest, we come up short to the person that should mean the most.
But these are the things I know for sure ~
Birds are singing this morning. Spring birds. And I know there are buds high in the trees and there was frost last night. I know my horse's breath is crisp and hangs like fog in front of him as he walks to the field this morning. I know he will greet me with a nicker later today. I know I will run later. I know I can pay my bills and I know I have a job tomorrow. I know that job makes up a career that will allow me to leave here and I know that I can do that and fulfill a dream that I have had for decades (which is the dream of leaving here).
The things that I don't know, like what kind of birds make up each song, which tree will bloom first and what Takoda will do each and every minute of his day today, don't really matter in terms of getting me through the shit in my own basement. How far I run will depend on how I feel. When I leave this particular town will depend on when I make a choice to and where I want to go, where I can secure employment, and whether the place is horse friendly (I won't ever go anywhere again that isn't).
All the things that I don't know are global and if/when I really want to know them I can seek them out and find them out. I can take action and make them my own knowledge and experience. All the things that I do know are the things that make up each and every moment and the moment after that. THOSE are the things that will get me through. Those are the things I must cling to for a bit, in the basement of my soul.
I was greeted this morning with several interesting posts and messages from various places and they all seemed to be telling the same story. The passage above, from author Sarah Drew immediately struck me as deeply important to reread, in detail, several times.
We are all evolving, or sometimes devolving, unfortunately. The willingness to let go and experience that re-birth is indeed to our benefit, yet it is completely counterintuitive to everything we are taught, especially as women. We live in a world of unprecedented opportunity to be who we want to be, yet, we are still in large part in the habit of looking to society to explain to us exactly who that is...
Stepping into uncertainty and that edge of oneself requires us to set aside our fears and our sadness. The shedding of skin and being is painful, after all. I mean, if it were not more people would do it more often and quite possibly the individual world would eventually be a less miserable place, right?
Answer first to your own. For so many of us the question of who am I anyway will be asked again and again. I'm not sure this is bad. It simply means we continue to evolve. I think as long as the question is answered each time by our own compass we are on the correct road.
So, if you think about it, just as I was contemplating not long ago in that our choices shape our daily life, which eventually shapes our overall patterns, which then eventually manifests into who and what we are.... A Potent Evolutionary Moment is every moment we make a choice in how to feel, how to react, how to go out into the world and BE.
I think, that what these snippets of soul-talk are telling me today is that more change is afoot, Gilly. This isn't strictly a feeling I'm getting from the universe, I have been advised in a veiled manner that the old world does not wait for she who builds a boat to explore the new...
We have to jump. We have to jump or we will be pushed into boxes and those boxes will become too small, held together by the tape of expectation and sameness. The cliff is sharp on the way down. We will be cut and we will bleed. The water is treacherous at times and we might be slammed again and again by our loneliness and our fear and the crushing possibility that it would be easier to conform. And then we have to swim. Because on the shore of our soul is a better version of ourselves FOR ourselves and the world in which we manifest our choices.
So, off to the edge I go. Sisters in arms please join me.
**Note to reader: this is not a post about my suffering LOL. It is simply an observation about life. maybe it will ring true to some folks...
The "meaning" of the season. What is it anyway? Gift giving? Running here and there? Prepping feasts and spending time with family and friends? Helping suffering cats to find the Rainbow Bridge? For me it was the latter. Long story short, most people suck and others (humans and animals) suffer for it.
It was during this whole sad affair though that some thoughts started forming in my head about how we ourselves make the season's meaning what it is. We have choices in that just as we have choices in life. I know people who insist on spending more than they have and doing more than they can so that "their kids will have Christmas" while others try desperately to instill something else in the minds and hearts of their own and beat back the piles of presents that grandparents and others heap upon the young. People decorate their houses like castles and then complain about the mess. They travel far and wide and then, exhausted, say they are honestly glad it is over for another year. These are all choices. Just like leaving your inside-only cat in a hostile environment to fend for itself is a choice...
So, I started this thought process about how our choices really form our daily lives and how in forming our daily lives that translates into a pattern and that pattern sort of starts to create that which we manifest overall. Now, sometimes the universe puts us in a place and then we make the choices but in the end, it is the choices that shape our souls, not the place the universe has put us in.
So, I have cried more in the past several days than I have in years. It all began with that cat but I think that mainly, I have been shedding some sort of worn and weathered inner skin that is made up of my own choices. The cat reminded me that there is most often no beauty or peace in death. I was first introduced to this concept by working for a veterinary clinic. It is our nature (human and other) to struggle to live. We fight for it even when we should let go. Animals do this too. It is natural. So, in watching the cat, I was reminded of this and prone to think about death in general.
Death of youth, death of innocence, of hopes and dreams, of plans, of trust, of relationships, of almost anything that creates a transition in our lives is in some way a painful struggle. Remember that in the Tarot the card of Death is not about death per say, but about transition, often painful. Even when we do what is right or best or needed that doesn't mean it isn't excruciating.
Am I shaping my soul with my choices? Most certainly. What do I hope for it to reflect? Spirit, patience, kindness, healing, hope, joy, peace... As I think about those words and think about them manifesting in my life I am keenly aware that many of my choices will need to shift in order to accommodate them. My mom sent me a Christmas card that applauded my unique approach to life and the world, my "differentness" so to speak. And while I do wear it like a badge of honor I tend to go out into the world everyday looking for a fight, a struggle, with my guard up and my sword close at hand. This has been my choice and although I do it for armor I do not think it has protected me from hurt. It has certainly, most likely, kept me from manifesting some of the attributes I hope for my soul to reflect. Interesting, isn't it? Again, choices.
So the meaning of the season seems to be reflection for me. And the acknowledgement of choice and all of the suffering, sadness, tears, struggle, truth, growth and continual change that it brings.
I wanted to write a post about fear and I wasn't even sure where to put it. I may end up posting it to several blogs. Why? Because it permeates many portions of my life.
People have no idea how full of fear I am. Well, LOL, I guess you people do because I'm about to tell you all about it. But, in "real" life I have mastered the ability to hide the fact that no matter what is going on I am pretty much pissing my pants inside. I've mastered this ability because I have always lived in fear. So, you know, you get pretty good at acting otherwise after decades of practice.
I'm not sure where it comes from. I have a few clues to how it may have developed just based on my life and moving through it but there was no one defining moment that said: you are now a fearful person. To the contrary, it was more likely several thousand tiny things and how my mind processes experience. None of the circumstances are about blame. We all make our own way in the end. But, acknowledging where beliefs come from is important in coping with negative ones.
I grew up in the shadow of an amazing older brother. A good deal older (8 years) than me so he was actually an adult while I was just entering puberty. My brother was (and is) a wonderful guy who is not only very well liked but is a talented musician, played every sport available to him while growing up, loves people and is still humble and down to earth. He is a prankster and a kid at heart. He is practical and logical and walks the line.
It is a joke in our family that he got all the "natural" ability and I got the ability to dream. LOL. From the start I was a bit different. I spent a lot of time alone, yes, daydreaming. I immersed myself in fantasy. I did not like people much, even as a kid. I hated team sports and was very sensitive. My mom always marveled at my ability to cry over the most random things.
We, my brother and I, were raised by different members of our families for the most part. The reasons were varied and I'll spare the details but the philosophies on life were definitely, distinctly opposite.
I think that a lot of times in life, you learn what is proven to you. I read an article not long ago that said that people who "don't like people" often feel that way because their examples of relationships and interactions between people and with people were for the most part not positive throughout their younger years. It is an overgeneralization yes, but I think it has merit.
I learned to not trust people through trial and major error and if I could not trust people then how could I trust myself? I think this is where the fear was born. Because if you have trust in yourself, what do you have to fear? If, despite all the world is showing you, you have faith in your own being, you are golden. If you question even that, fear creeps in.
It has taken me years and years to even recognize that I am fearful! For decades I denied it. I put on a mask of "I fear nothing" and went out into the world with my teeth gritted, pretending that I was well put together and confident. That got me further than I would have imagined actually but there comes a point in your life where you really want to know yourself and acknowledge yourself in deep ways. So, that began my admission that I live in fear.
What sparked this post was buying a horse. That process really has brought ALL this contemplation to the surface. I lost my daily contact with horses almost four months ago. For a time I was frozen in what I now know was fear. People would ask me what are you doing about the horse situation? and I would have a million excuses as to why I wasn't looking for a horse, or a place to keep a horse. Stuff like - it is winter, there are probably no boarding spots available (without even looking), I don't know what I want, it is too soon... What was really going on was that I was paralyzed by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of fucking up, fear of going and talking to random people, riding random horses, picking a horse with three legs (I mentioned in my horse blog having a dream that's what I did and waking up in a panic).
My fear generally goes like this: I have a decision to make and in making that decision I come up with a thousand "worst case scenarios" that range from the simple to the very elaborate as in: I can't ride my horse over there by that stream because what if a duck flies into his head, he spooks and throws me off and there happens to be some stick lying there that I don't know about and I land on it and impale myself through the heart and then I'll be dead. LOL. Oh, I'll give you another one from just last night when it was late and I was cold and didn't feel like walking with the dog all the way over to where he pees. So, I stood in the doorway and waited for him. Then I start thinking: It is really dark over there and what if he gets attacked by a coyote and I won't be able to save him because it is icy and by the time I get there he'll be dead and what if I fall on the ice in the process, hit my head and the coyote eats me too? This is COMPLETELY illogical because first of all, while we do have coyotes they are not close to our houses and furthermore WTF kind of random crazy shit is that anyway, yet these are the things I am thinking about?
Fear is so my constant companion that in my Winter Solstice (new year) ritual I centered my whole ceremony on letting it go. Obviously, magic and continual work go hand in hand...
So, getting beyond fear is not just a "hobby" for me. It is a daily and constant struggle. I probably will never be able to put it completely to rest. You cannot become another type of person just because you want to. Sheer will cannot overcome these things to any further extent than it already has in my case. I also worry as I get older that the fear will increase as many phobias and other "ticks' tend to do as we age and become more out of touch with the ebb and flow of action and what is happening "in the trenches" of life. It is times like this when I envy people that fear nothing, but even then only to the extent that I think - gosh if they only knew...
I hope that everyone had the most fabulous Winter Solstice!
The thought occurred to me yesterday that this night, the longest, lonely, silent night ~ is my New Year. I wonder if others feel the same way about it? As we have walked over the threshold and step by step descended down that spiral staircase within our minds, hearts and souls, the sun has been waiting.
We have been seeking rest and knowledge and healing and the sun has patiently rested as well. We have made our preparations for the remainder of winter. It is within these preparations that we will continue to rest, recover, search and feed our souls. Within the darkness we are safe. Our bodies are wrapped in the colors of winter, our minds can retreat into their own thoughts and learn, our souls can lie in the Earth and be healed. Winter Solstice is a time outside of time. A single moment when everything is suspended between breaths.
And then, in the night, the Sun stretches and opens its eyes and we know that it is time to chase the dark away, ever so slowly, and let the light creep back into our lives, hearts and souls. We exhale. And breath again.
As we awaken this morning, after the Longest Night, we should move forward into the light and know that we are loved. Yes, even if not by others at least by the vastness of the Universe and the Spirit within it. The never-ending circle of something that we are part of still follows its own path and within it, we are loved.