Day 3: I Am No Jedi

One of the things I love about Ahsoka Tano is she turns her back on the Jedi when her integrity requires her to do so.

Someone in my life I love and admire very much did that recently – completely went against what societal convention and pressure dictated, made an extremely difficult decision, and faced the fallout of people potentially not understanding, jumping to conclusions, attacking, etc. What admirable courage of heart this took! Not many people can seize their lives like this.

I was often vocal about my support of – choose! Choose your own life and truth every day! But when the choice wasn’t what I wanted, I hit a wall in which I couldn’t completely live in that ideal. I wanted to, but I was grieving. I went through my own journey of loving release, then deep hurt, then back to acceptance and now – complete admiration – for this person’s choice. This person has my full support, gratitude, and I completely celebrate now, that they are living their fullest life as they need it to look. It wasn’t cut and dried for me- because their fullest life involved a future without me in it.

I try to be an evolved human, but emotions are things that have to be allowed. Hopefully, allowed in a way that doesn’t hurt others… but I can be messy.

And the messiness brought me, in the roundabout way “meant to be” things seem to occur, to myself. To getting to know and belong to myself in a way I didn’t know was possible. By doing the hardest thing and living their truth fully, this person gave me the deepest gift! They gave me MY truth, as well.

Incredible. I don’t think it could have happened any other way.

This is a part of the Grey Path too, I think – loving one’s self in the moments one doesn’t live up to the Jedi-Hero ideal, and also trusting that even though the decision may hurt deeply (if you’ve seen the scene where Ahsoka refuses her padawan braid, this is a prime example,) it is the right way to go, and there will eventually be even more beauty, more abundance, more fully LIVING because of it.

And this is Ahsoka. How easy it would be for her to just slide back into the role of Padawan, about to become a fully fledged Jedi. But

“I am no Jedi,”

she says. One of her most powerful moments.

I am no Jedi

Walking the grey path (neither all light or all dark) requires us to check in with our motivation, pause before reacting, and choose from the wise place of deep knowing, rather than choosing from “shoulds,” habit, or a desire to please others, or a fear of others’ disapproval.

What else are we here for? I wish to come to the end of my life and know that I lived MY life. That my mistakes were mine, and I fully stood in my truth as much as possible, and allowed others theirs.

Which brings me to day 3. My morning’s training was “what have you learned from your failures?” It was about how failure is good, is important.

Random kitty break! (Her name is Ahsoka…)

And I realized: I haven’t failed at anything lately, (except perhaps the relationship I mention in the beginning of this post- but, though I risked and dared absolutely everything for it, I don’t count that a failure at all… it feels like a victory in so many ways, for both of us- I just don’t know why or how, yet.)

I’ve failed at nothing. Which tells me I haven’t been risking enough, in more years than I can count. I can’t remember the last time I failed, except for physical stuff like double-unders or pull-ups.

This realization was a bit of a punch in the gut.

I need to get on the field again. I need to risk, and I need to fail.

Failure is extremely important.

Have you failed lately?

Check your path. The safe way is to go along knowing you’re all light or all dark – and how do you know? Because you follow those in front of you. There’s always someone in front. There are always a lot of people around you on those paths, because approval is the way people on those paths stay safe. They know they’re right, because Yoda or the Supreme Leader gave a nod of approval. Because all the others approve and agree. How safe, how comforting …how utterly devoid of questions.

What happens if a person starts questioning, weighing whether things are in alignment with their individual truth, with their core values?

They risk causing disruption on the extreme paths. They fall into Grey.

Sometimes, scoundrels and non-Jedi need to walk alone-

and I would far rather strike out on my own knowing I was fully living my truth, than feel a deep core loneliness in a crowd because I wasn’t being honest, wasn’t being myself.

This is the heart of Ahsoka. She can’t remain detached, because sometimes her sense of justice causes her to get involved. She can’t follow the rules, if the rules don’t make sense.

She is one of my heroes.

And today at the gym, I worked so hard I was actually making a thin sort of keening noise at one point (thank goodness for loud music), and crawled over to get my bag, but had to lie down in fetal position on the way there.

Proof

I didn’t bench press a very heavy weight, but it was a good step for me. I didn’t deadlift the heaviest of everyone there, but I was strong in my form and felt good. I didn’t row the fastest by any means, (in fact, of the day, I came in at a lowly 5th) but I worked as hard as I could.

I didn’t do the highest number of bicep curls, either, but I did more than I thought I possibly could.

Today was an AWESOME day.

Sometimes, you wind up on the floor. But if you’re on the floor having given all you’ve got, that’s an incredible feat of courage, and a big step forward.

Now. Let’s all go fail more. Risk more, leap more, fall more, risk all, be messy, apologize, try again, lose our tempers, learn from it, grieve, be “extra,” miss a dance step or two, laugh too much, throw our hearts toward our dreams, turn our feet toward the path that is our truth and let people have their reactions- that is their story to live.

Walking the Grey Path isn’t easy – but it’s worth it.

“In my experience, just when you think you understand the Force, you find out how little you actually know.” – Ahsoka Tano

day 2: Get Your Hero On

Beginning an endeavor publicly, and being quite specific about the goal, is like setting out a bowl of honey in front of an ants’ nest.

You will discover haters when you least expected them.

I’m doing something for myself – I am changing my life. The future I had been living into so clearly I felt it was already real, is now nonexistent. It is up to me to burn that draft completely, and rewrite.

Ah, the terror and wonder of a completely blank page!

I could go absolutely anywhere. I could do anything.

I decided to take stock before I dash off somewhere, sink into my heart, and do some deep renovations; to rebuild my life beginning with my health and my body – the things I know are my own. I don’t need to move across the ocean just yet- I have work to do in my soul, first; I have wonderful friends and a happy life here, I may as well start right where I am.

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” – Eckhart Tolle

A very good old (of 30 years’ standing- that should earn him a distance medal-) friend and trainer, and another very good trainer I’ve been learning from for a few years, are supports I am grateful to have.

A good therapist, as well, is a support I am grateful to have.

Old-friend-trainer gave me an assessment, to offer me some help and support in this rebuild from the rubble of my old life.

“I need you to get specific about your goal,” he said.

“I don’t know- a bikini competition?” Nah. Didn’t feel authentic to me. “Better posture?” On the right track. “Confidence?” Yes. “No longer giving a flying frack what anyone else thinks!” Heck, yes. “You know, Milo,” (his name is Milo-) “I just want to be Okoye.”

“Train for a black belt?” He offered.

“Hm, no. But I am building a character, and I want my version of her to have the heart of Okoye. I don’t have Ahsoka’s body type, but I can become a warrior.”

He looked up from where he was (HEROICALLY!) cooking breakfast for me (what!!! I know ✨✨), and his face lit up. “I like that plan,” he said, and that’s when I realized it was, actually, a plan, not just a playful conversation. He held out his fist. I bumped it with mine- and the deal was sealed.

And so, the Jedi-hero plan was built. The magical thing is, it doesn’t matter what other people think about it! It doesn’t matter if they understand… but I’m sharing it for anyone who wants to get from point absolute-nothing-in-life-is-true-anymore, to build-your-own-Wakanda-Coruscant.

It won’t all happen in six months, but the habits will be there.

The awesome thing is, people who feel they need to criticize or express skepticism are very few compared to the ones who are supportive, interested, and even inspired. So the little digs made me smile. Their comments feel like little boosts to my airship fuel tanks…

Check back in in 6 months, dear Nellies of the world, and you’ll still be squinting at your screen thinking up something passive-aggressive to say about someone else, while I’ll be living into my fun vision.

OR, I don’t know, join me, and make something cool with your life. Crazy thought!

So. Without further ado:

Day two involved therapy (yes! Jedisuperheroes need to hone our minds and mental health as well!)

It involved drinking water, stretching, Getting Stuff Done, eating right(!),

And a flexibility workout.

Eating right:

I begin with a shake. I prefer a low sugar high protein one called Orgain with superfoods. I add frozen broccoli or a cup of mixed greens. I add half a banana, or half cup blueberries.

I also begin with coffee, because I am addicted to the stuff, and I wish to be able to speak to people, rather than growl.

I’m still exploring snacks. Today I split up an isagenix bar, but that was an emergency fallback, as I was rushing to aforementioned therapy appointment.

Chicken breast. Broccoli. Sauerkraut.

Exciting stuff, I know. But if this kind of eating is new to you, try it for a while. You’ll get used to it. You’ll find you crave it. It takes the body a little while to adjust, if you’re used to eating out a lot. Give it a try!

When I’m super munchy before bed, I have a cup of frozen grapes. These things are like enchanted Turkish delight, so measure them. Really. They are SO GOOD.

Photo. Because they are THAT good!

that’s all for today- it was mild, but progress happened.

OH! And someone is making me an Okoye *and* an Ahsoka workout shirt! Oh yeeeeaaaah, it is happening. Will probably take a month or more, but I am thrilled!

In the meantime, here’s a stand-in. I bought this in Ticonderoga, NY, on a sale rack at wal-mart for $5. I wasn’t even into superheroes at that point; I just needed a t-shirt, as the film shoot was longer than my clothing supply. (Incidentally, that’s the film shoot that opened the door I stepped through which closed a month ago, but led me here to this moment, in a liminal space with a dizzying amount of doors I can choose next! Funny thing, life- there’s nothin’ like it. 😉 )

Later, my boxing teacher said it was his favorite, so I hung onto it. Years after that, I dyed it purple. These heroes were just hanging about, waiting for me to discover them: and so I shall.

Get Your Hero On, everyone, no matter how long it takes, and no matter who laughs, or tries to beat you up in an alley.

“I could do this all day.” – Captain America ❤️

(This is rambly. I’m not editing it. If you’ve got questions, ask questions- I’m here all week-)

JEDI Training Day 1

Day 1 of Superhero/Jedi Training:

– you can still thoroughly enjoy food if it is measured and healthy. It’s a matter of focusing on it, and being present to the nutrients being taken in, the textures and flavors. Eating can be a moment of extreme self care, it can be meditation, it can be celebration of our own unique life force.

(I totally just made this up after enjoying a shake with: orgain protein powder, frozen broccoli and 1/2 banana. I could eat this every single day and be thrilled – it’s so good.)

– choosing the cardio workout rather than strength, because I have learned that my squat form needs the most basic work.

A micro movement of sending the hips back FIRST changes everything. It puts my weight in my heels where it belongs. I was initiating at the knees. We’re talking teeeeeeny micromovements, here- I was unaware. (Thank you, Milo!)

-I love working out in the morning, but I’ve not been sleeping. 5 hours is a *really good* night for me. This messes up the hormones… so I’m choosing to try for some sleep training just like weight training, and get more hours in – which means I compromise and move workouts to the evening.

It’s not a “hell, yeah!” But for the long game I’m looking at, it will all come together beautifully.

(It’s like with boxing. I had to work on one thing at a time so I could stay focused and positive. I couldn’t expect speed, strong hits *and* endurance – or I’d burn out. So let the speed go and work on good form/ strong hits. Then, watch as the endurance bar raises a little bit each week. Speed was the ongoing icing on top. All of the work I did toward that is gone now, and yet I still have the mental monuments I built during that time- so I’m hoping I can teach this old Padawan body with the Jedi mind.)

-my fake it till you make it shirt : I desire an Okoye one with every fiber of my being, but until then, Superman’s abs make me laugh.

The most important superhero training element: laugh. Oh, please never forget to laugh at and with yourself and the world.

Gandalf did it, so can I

…and so can Han Solo (I still believe! 😛 )
I can rise from this, much stronger than before. My broken, shattered places will be mended with adamantium.

My new therapist (God bless him) has given me this insight: I am so much in my feminine, I had no safety of my OWN, not much structure, drive, focus…So much in the feminine, I was all flexibility, all nurture, creativity, play, multitasking,..and the shadow of that for me was big. people-pleasing, care taking, mothering, resentment, insecurity, jealousy, all of these things were my shadow.

*love does not have to make me weak.*  I just have work to do in my own spirit before that can be true.

We can be both masculine and feminine in balance- it would remove the leaning on each other, and the toxicity of too MUCH in imbalance.
I wanted to share this in case it helps, in case anyone wants to know more about it.
My healing plan thus far, we came up with together : meditation, every day. I will describe the how and why of this in a blog post soon. Meditation strengthens the observer of the mind & emotions, and trains the mind to “let go” more quickly. I wish to move away from negative thought forms I come into contact with.
I wish to rebuild my life from this complete nothingness.
Healing plan my awesome crossfit trainer came up with: “Let’s focus on being the best version of you. Let’s make this year the last 6 months the best health you’ve ever been in.”
Healing plan my was-going-to-be Mother-in-Law came up with: write. write like your heart depends on it. you can write – you really can.
and she said “I wouldn’t be surprised if one day you win a Pulitzer”
and the healing plan from my would-have-been (but still honorary) sister-in-law: come pray with us. be free to cry here.
Healing from my parents: we love you. listening and support in all ways – I am grateful-
and the healing plan from my friends: “reach out when you are ready to talk.” “we’ll come over with a cheesecake, you can even be in your pajamas.” “come visit, our door is open/there is a room for you here. get away for a while and be welcome here.” How beautiful is that???
I am in a mourning place. I’m the caterpillar in the cocoon when everything in her body turns to mush, in order to transform.
I will stay here in the home I made for myself, until this transformation calls me to another clear step elsewhere.
I feel surrounded by hope. You hold me up. Thank you so much, for not judging me, thank you for loving me in all my many manymany flaws.
I am so grateful! I love you! IMG_E4488

When Your Heart is Broken

A torturous month of failing to honor myself, and a series of shocks from within the home my heart had chosen, have left me utterly bewildered.

So I thought I’d use this moment of fractured soul to heal myself, by offering healing to any who might be up late, searching on the internet :

“How to heal a broken heart,”
“How to feel better,”
or simply,

“I am lost.”

I am taking my practice from Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hanh, and one of my lineage of teachers, Rabbi Shefa Gold.

First, sit. Don’t escape. When your mind wants to text, create a facebook post (or a blog post, heh heh…), an instagram post, or call to talk to loved ones… pause. Lean in to your pain. Actually think to yourself “lean in.” Lean into fear and loss; this is the way to be with it in such a way that you can journey through it, and come out the other side. To escape is to preserve it within your body and psyche. I know you are strong enough: gently and firmly lean in.

Muster all the strength – you have more than you know – and simply pause.

Sit on your meditation cushion, the floor, a chair, anywhere that is comfortable but allows you to be awake and upright. This isn’t the time to burrow, hide, and wallow- though that may call to you strongly, healing needs action. The more we feel resistance to action, the more action is actually what we need to take…

the action of no-action.

It is maybe one of the hardest things you will ever do.

Are you sitting?  Then you are already a warrior. Welcome. I am proud of you.

Become aware of your breath. When we are hurt deeply, breathing can become quite shallow. Just gently direct your mind to your breath. The mind might even fight; It might say “what’s the point, my world is falling apart…” things of this nature.

Hear it gently- this is no time to berate your bruised self.
Then simply direct it back to the breath. If you can, smile a little on the out breath. (this is from Thich Nhat Hanh.)

imagine the spiky shards of your heart, feel where they might be – if you can get beyond your brain. The brain, after a shock, will often repeat itself, trying to lure you into playing and re-playing the situation, seeking solutions, reasons, answers.
the stories of wound will repeat, like a person telling over rosary beads. According to the Dalai Lama, this is a way to actually keep wounds open and alive, so as soon as you can, try to redirect your thoughts gently.
just keep gently directing the mind back to the breath. slowly surround the shards of your heart, wherever in your body they may have spread to, and surround them with warmth, with caring, with whatever your idea of a comforting light may be.

Place yourself in a situation where you are with someone (do not be specific, this is just a made-up presence) who accepts you completely. Your shadow, your struggles, your fears, your weaknesses.
This person sitting with you accepts every single part of you, and loves you unreservedly.
Nothing you could do or say could cause this person to stop loving you, to turn away from you, to shock you with abandonment or rejection, or choosing to side against you.

absolutely nothing.

Feel what it would be to be that safe. Safe to be yourself, safe to expand in the arms and light of love. Feel the rising of your best self. This is what such love brings –

when you are accepted and not under siege, the best self can emerge. She is a gift – she is the deepest gift to anyone who awakens her delicate, joyful dance.

Now, you are the one who has the power to awaken her.
You had that power all along.

Keep imagining what it would be to be so safe. To be so seen, loved, and appreciated – until you feel good feeling spread throughout your body, and warm the broken places.

This is being love.
You have access to your higher self at any time.
Nothing people say about you can remove this.
Nothing people shock you with can remove this.
No surprises from people you love deeply can remove this.
No death, loss, mistakes, or shadow-self actions can remove this.

Someone inside you has been parched for your love, attention, regard and care for a long time. She sleeps in a glass coffin, and the one she was waiting for all along was – you. Not a prince. Nothing was left to chance, here. She awaited you.

 

sw9.jpg

Send your breath gently to her lips – and feel her inhale. Smile gently, if you feel yourself awakening.
Give her gentle thoughts – embrace her shadows and the things about her that others try to mock or shame.

The stone the builders have rejected has become the cornerstone: (Psalm 118:22) 

Is a good chant to meditate with.  If you feel so moved, you can find the melody at rabbi Shefa Gold’s website under Psalms. (www.rabbishefagold.com)

The twists and turns of this phrase – let your breath be regular as you whisper, chant or speak it – will guide your heart in ways you may not expect.

That which we reject- our shadow- can be called to be in the full light of our love. It can be rinsed of shame and become the cornerstone, the foundation anchor of the temple of our lives and good work here, if we allow it. If we are willing to see it in a new light.

If a situation has caused you great grief, let acceptance gently settle on your shoulders like a mantle.

If someone you love has rejected you, let their experience, their stories and reasons they wish to leave your life and live without you, all be gentle teachers. Let them wash over you, but do not find handholds in that rock. That is not your mountain to climb. You can let the reasons wash through your hands, settle for a while, examine them for wisdom and lessons to be found, and then let them go on to become that person’s temple. That person or persons – they may choose; let them choose.

Let them go, if they do not choose you.

You have a temple to build, and you have love to give and receive.  Give each breath the gratitude it deserves, and cherish each one, even as you release. There will be a new breath. Releasing is a way to practice letting go,

just as gently releasing tempting thought pathways are a chance to practice letting go.

With practice, we can all become more adept at letting go with immense grace.
and until then, invite your cornerstone. If you have not found it, simply invite it –
If it is heavy or painful to carry, it needs your love and care. It is ready to shine and take on a new aspect in your life and choices.

From one broken heart to another: I wish you great joy. I wish you love, and I wish you healing.

Interview: Author Sioux Trett

The following post is an interview I did with young adult fiction author Sioux Trett (her blog is here!

You can head over to her blog to enter an awesome giveaway for book launch 🙂

A new book in her exciting series Paper Dreams Chronicles is being released on Tuesday! It’s a great moment to introduce you to her, if you haven’t yet found her books, and add some links so you can check out the first book in time for the release of book two.

If you like Diana Wynne Jones, Hunger Games, Upside of Unrequited,  you’ll likely love Sioux’s series, which is an interesting, playful and yet suspense-filled adventure in time, books, and space…with first love thrown into the mix.


Hi Sioux !
First of all, I have to say I’m really loving your books. Book two ramps up the stakes in a big way, and we get to know Rennie and the others a lot more.

It surprised me in so many good ways, and I can’t wait for people to get to read it.

Thanks Becky!
It makes me so happy that you like my books! And thanks for having me on your blog today. It’s always so great to get to catch up with you.
Let’s just jump right in with a few questions –

1) Which character do you resonate most with? Which is the voice of Sioux (if there is a voice of Sioux in here..), and which ones are your favorites?

Oh that’s an easy one for me. Rennie (the main character) is definitely my voice, We don’t look alike, and most of the time we don’t act alike. But she speaks in sarcasm and nerd quotes which is definitely all me.

Since it is written in a first person narrative, it seemed like the way to go for my first attempt at this whole novel writing thing, and I have to say that I’m loving the experience. Getting to write a character who speaks so much like me is a luxury for sure.For this second book, though, I have to admit that my favorite interactions to write were Rennie & Seth.  He’s feisty and snarky in a way that Alex isn’t, and that interplay was surprisingly fun to write.

2) I know this is a very frequently asked question, but here goes: can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Any tips and tricks, or things you’ve learned along the way that are helpful to struggling writers out there?

 

My writing process is haphazard at best, haha! I wish I was more disciplined with it. But I do have some tips, mostly based on my own mistakes. Most people sit down to write their first book and think, “Okay, Chapter One, Page One… Here we go.”

Let me tell you, that first page is a BEAR. Like, big ugly snarling grizzly.Don’t force yourself to face that monster straight out of the gate. My best advice is to write what you know. You probably have an opening in mind, an ending in mind, and one or two big major points in the middle. Great! Write those! What is the strongest scene in your head? The one that makes you keep coming back to this particular story to tell. Write that! It doesn’t matter if it’s chapter three or 3/4 of the way through the whole thing. Just get that down and start crafting around it. That sounds chaotic, and it probably won’t work for everyone. But oh man is it freeing for me. For A Time Forgotten, the first scene that I wrote ended up being in Chapter 21. But it was what kept shouting inside my skull and getting it out helped to inform other scenes I hadn’t even known were in my head yet. That was a really long answer! I hope there was something helpful in there.

3) how many books do we get to look forward to in this series?
There will be three novels, and right now I have two novellas planned as well. Those are still iffy, though. There are two stories I would love to tell within this world, but they’re both prequels and the thought of someone reading out of order and seeing massive spoilers just haunts me.
Haha! Control issues much?
But for sure there will be the three novels. In fact, I’m starting on the third today. (And yep, I am indeed starting smack dab in the middle because this scene keeps playing out in my head.)
4) Are they mapped out?… do you know how this all is going to END? (eek!)
I do know how it ends! I’ve actually had the end in mind since day one. How I get there is another story. I know certain key moments, but there are some details still waaaaaaay up in the air. Secrets will be revealed, sacrifices will be made. I’m excited to see it all play out! 

Thank you so much, Sioux, I’m so looking forward to the big launch on Tuesday!

 

Thanks again for having me visit today! I can’t wait for Tuesday! 😀
 

Again, here are the links to Sioux’s books:

Book 1                                                                               Book 2

drawn cover                  a time cover

Book Launch!YA author Sioux Trett

Just a quick post to let everyone know, author Sioux Trett’s launch of A Time Forgotten, the second book in the Paper Dreams Chronicles, is happening Tuesday! (her blog is  here! )

If you’re already a fan of Rennie and the gang, maybe it’s time to re-read book 1 so you’re ready for book 2 to land on Tuesday.

I’ll be interviewing Sioux here- in fact I’ve just sent off the questions – and likely that interview will go up on Sunday.

I’m so excited for you, Sioux, and very honored to beta read this wonderful series… I hear there are some changes I get to look forward to in the officially released version, and I can’t wait to read it again!

useful links: 
drawn cover

Book 1: Drawn In

a time cover

Book 2: A Time Forgotten

Ghosting

“I drove by your house,” Jeff said, “but the light wasn’t on, so I didn’t go in.”

After Jeff died, I left the light on for years. Nearly a decade.

Jeff had hazel green eyes, large and liquid, fringed with thick lashes like a deer. He had sensitive hands, calloused from his love of welding, work, painting, building, creating; but long-fingered and inclined to go in funny muppet-shapes when he was caught up in the description of something that ignited him; I loved him fiercely. I loved him in the blind, all-encompassing way that only young children or parents can love.

He struggled with depression, and I felt he needed me. I was running around the world raw, with no counseling under my belt to teach me where I ended and a person I loved began. So I broke off pieces of myself to try to heal him; I could see his magnificence, and didn’t understand why he couldn’t. To me, that was love- with no end to the love I could give another, not myself.

Jeff’s death was sudden, incomprehensible, unexplained, and cataclysmic to all who loved him. It changed us forever. I am not sure how I interacted with others for about 5-8 years; I hope I didn’t hurt anyone, because I wasn’t even there.

I finally encountered a rabbi in a way that felt like fate; he offered to counsel me, and it didn’t feel scary-he felt like a gentle father figure, so I gratefully opened the painful, acid-burned scar that was a decade of lost love, and asked him for guidance. I knew I needed to regrow my life.

After a year, he told me he was jealous of my ghost, of the unwavering love I had for him, and that he was in love with me. Well, not me – to be precise- he said he was in love with my “light” and my “heart.”

It felt authentic- because never before had I shown anyone my “true” self, the depth of this grief. At the time, I thought my grief was myself. I have compassion for this sweet girl running around the world in need of a counselor, but I wish I could tell her she chose the wrong counselor, and that predators will find people who are shattered, because broken winged birds are easy to catch and keep.

It was an affair; there is no way to gloss that over. Yes, I believed him when he painted a picture of entrapment and coldness, a story of terror and victimization straight out of Castle Otranto; I believed him because my protective instincts were stronger than my reasoning capacities, and I needed to feel like I was rescuing someone.

Not myself. Someone else.

It was a tormented, dramatic and toxic situation. It was harmful to two good-hearted, trusting women. It’s a novel in itself. (reader, I made amends with her as best I could. That awesome, ill-treated woman. I mourn her still.)

And then came the day when the man I had committed to in a (secret) engagement with betrothal ceremony (useful to be a rabbi, I guess?) with religious hoodoo-voodoo that had the added bonus of I’d already bought into the religious trappings with the naive and wholeheartedly I’m-drinking-this-punch commitment of a zealous brand-new believer,

the man I was going to go to nursing school in order to conduct my future life as a proper caretaker for,

swore to me on the Torah he wasn’t leaving me,

kissed me on the lips and said “I can’t wait to kiss these lips again,”

walked away,

cut off his phone line, his email, erased all tracks of himself,

and (I later found out), moved to Bali.

I waited for him, and finally a year later, I cleared myself of the vows I had made. Yes, I was that naive. I am inclined that way still, and have to work hard to break vows, words, ties.
So forgive me if I can no longer believe.

Forgive me if I can no longer leave the light on.

Forgive me if my loyalty now has a time limit.

This heart still runs deep and loyal. I protect it better now. I bestow it better now. I value it more now.

I have had years of counseling now, with two incredible, kick-ass women who have taught me that my life is valuable. That my life and energy and heart are more valuable than anything else, because my life and energy and heart are the only things that are mine. I get to nurture them and use them to create a story with my time here in this life. It’s the only thing of my choosing, the story I write while I’m here, the actions, words and choices I make.

I don’t get to choose for anyone else. That no one else’s life, story, heart or energy comes first, is very foreign to me and extremely difficult. I struggle with it daily.

But two good rabbi-teachers, (one male and one female,) a Maggid-teacher (female) and two life coaches (female) and the aforementioned counselors later,  I have learned how to release ghosts.

Do not carry the departed, no matter in what way they left. The dead would not want you to waste your life carrying them, and the living made their own choice. Let their absence teach you how to live more brightly. Let their absence turn your story into a wing, a torch, a promise.

We’re all going to have to leave, at some point – it’s the deal we make when we come in the door of this life. So don’t waste a moment carrying someone else’s life or leaving.

How magnificently the trees blaze as they let go; I wish to burn as brightly.

Expand into the unknown with fierce courage – it is all we have, and anything else is an illusion.

Ghosting is a choice that says nothing about you or your worth. As Brene Brown says, “We are not here to negotiate our worth with other people.”

For a still-living person to ghost another is a choice they make which expresses their own life story in this world. It has nothing to do with you.

IF they have told you why, learn what you can, know they’re taking care of their needs, and move on. If they haven’t, learn what you can, and move on.

I myself have cut off contact with three people in my life- and I gave them plenty of warning before I had to take that step. I asked for what I needed; I communicated clearly and respectfully. I told them what step I would need to take, and I took it. The behavior was severe and grievous that caused me to choose to leave no door open. There does come a time when we have to “bless and release,” even the Dalai Lama does that.

But people who abandon without the respect of communication? They have chosen to become ghosts, no longer a part of your story. I don’t really feel the need to make any judgment statements about it- just know they aren’t your people, and move on with your awesome life. Don’t leave the light on. Don’t waste a month, let alone a decade.

Mourn, excavate the story of what/who you believed they were, and release. If they have passed away, know that moving forward doesn’t equal forgetting. Grieving is a process of unraveling everything they were to you and knitting yourself back up together again. It takes a long time; it takes love and patience. But while you give yourself that grieving space and time, also release fast! Do the grieving for your own healing, and let them go. You can still love, and let go. Life is waiting for your heart and the light, undimmed, that you alone can give.

Talisman

People don’t seem to be at all suspicious of bad fortune.

When something good happens, something we wanted and maybe worked for, we look for the loophole- all of a sudden, we’ve stumbled into the dangerous and unpredictable realm of the Goblins (or Fairies or Elves- all equally twisty for us human folk), and we are wary, tense, ready for the hidden dagger, the tragic trap in the Fairies’ Gold, the hidden twist in the Genie’s wish.

But when something bad happens, we aren’t hunting for the hidden promise, the gift. “Ah! Of course,” we say knowingly, feeling good in a strange, dark (and Goblin-like, if we could only see ourselves) way, that if we didn’t see it coming, we at least foresaw something bad- and even if we weren’t quite as prepared as we thought we would be, at least we knew. We watched the news, didn’t we, in order to know, to be informed, in readiness for just such a happening as this. Dark triumph.

And with the laws of finite probability, we can live years -decades, even- ready for “something bad”; prepping for it, experiencing it internally over and over, and it will come eventually! It is a relative certainty.
And maybe there’s something good – good possibility and promise sparkling around the edges of our life, so we might even get specific and define that something Bad as a threat to the something Good that’s nosing toward us, wagging its tail. “Look out behind you,” we call to Good Thing, even while we absolutely know with every power in our Goblin-made lenses, that the Bad Thing will gobble up the Good before it reaches us.

Until the moment something bad finally actually happens, and we’re almost relieved. “At last- it’s here- I can face it.”

This is how we call in “bad luck,” and make a home for it. This is, in fact, how we create it. Fairies and Goblins alike tremble at the power we humans have to create “bad fortune.”

This is how we fail to use the powerful magic lenses, the talisman we’ve been given. (It was originally supposed to protect us!) We can choose, really. We get to find our way into the Fairy halls, passing the throne and the ballroom, with hardly a wistful glance at the glittering gowns and impeccable tailoring, at the swirling, dancing, laughing party guests in their elaborate masks, with certainly not one single taste of the vast, gleaming array of steaming dishes, savory and sweet, ripe fruit bursting with promise, and every kind of drink or nectar we can imagine (and many we can’t)- we can be strong, ignore it all, and make our purposeful way to the Forge. We can set our lenses there in the crucible that’s been sitting unused, and we can take up the ladle of molten, liquid Dream and pour it gently on our lenses. We can coat them in any powerful transformative substance we wish.

Or, we can stalk through our lives in human instinct, as human beings created with a negative bias in our brains (so we could survive in the caves and dwellings that Bad Experiences taught us to seek, and gather around our campfires and tell stories that taught us all, deeply, how to Survive when the Night gathered outside the ring of our fires) We can magnify our talismanic lenses with Doom and Prediction of Failure and all the substances that fairies find so horribly unfashionable, so they mostly exist right here in our world, all ready to hand – it’s not even hard to gather them. It requires no quest. We can even do the re-coating of our lenses while sitting on the couch!

We can continue to seek and call Bad “fortune” to us, and look for it even when Good is determined to find us- we can continue to look for the Bad as avidly as any lover in the marketplace, sure his heart’s desire is around the next corner.

This is just to say: I am writing fairytales. In them are clues I’ve hidden; clues that will help any humans that should happen to stumble accidentally into the Other realm. The hidden things will help you survive, and they’ll even help you build a kingdom successfully, if that is what you desire.

I’ve been forbidden to simply tell these rules outright, because it is another truth of humans that we have to work for things, or we don’t see their sovereign nature, and run the risk of simply discarding that which is valuable beyond our ability to imagine.

Do you have what it takes to craft your talisman? You will need it – your very life depends on it.

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Choosing the Warrior’s Path…again

When times get a little rough, when we have chronic strife, we can choose to complain about another person and make them wrong, make them small in any way our brain chooses to present evidence for that – or we can choose to learn. We can choose curiosity.

I know which I choose.

I have to actively make the choice; as I sit with anger coiled like bitter fire in my belly, the anger resolves into words – it recites the wrongs to me. It recites the good things I’ve given and the wrongs I’ve perceived and received, in my imagination. As I breathe and listen, I start to hear a pattern. The self-righteous bluster is flat, like the old-time stage scenery that was painted skillfully on plywood, shaded to look like structures of depth and substance. The more I look at it, the more I see deep grief underneath. The grief of a dream tarnished, a dream I’ve rebuilt, a dream I’m afraid of losing- a dream that was created by a child, a very young me.

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The grief turns into questions. “Was it real? Am I a fool?” and flashes quickly into labels like “Betrayal.” Then it moves to list what I did wrong, where I messed up. It holds some truth, here – I could have done better. I can do better. But the self-hatred that shows up is a twisted form of the “bargaining” stage of grief. I breathe and observe.

Then anger begins again. The list starts repeating itself. I don’t do or say anything; I used to journal, but I found that writing gave the anger more substance. I am a storyteller; when I write things, I paint them in great detail in my mind, most of which are edited off the page. The world takes on life; the things I write breathe in me, and grow. I do not wish to feed and give life and substance to this bitter dragon, so I watch, and wait.

I consider compassion. Not empathy-that isn’t a road to take here – identifying and plunging in with a heart all to ready to imagine, feel, and perhaps project, is not wise in this instance. Compassion is bigger than that. Compassion breathes and says “Yes.” Yes, what you are experiencing is valid. Yes, you are held and supported. Support doesn’t mean I agree with the stories that create what I’m experiencing, or what you are experiencing – it means that beyond the stories and the pain, there is support that sees my, your, brightest light. Support can also mean taking no action at all. Compassion doesn’t seek to control. It simply IS, and I breathe it in.

I stop writing stories about what the other person is thinking, feeling, choosing. I stop trying to follow the labyrinth of “WHY” to find some way to comfort my rational mind, which seeks to understand and seeks to answer every criticism it can imagine is leveled in my direction. Trying to understand, or think I understand, is a form of control. I breathe again and feel the knot loosen.

I survey the future I had built for myself: the vision, the lovely castle in my mind and heart. I breathe in again when a knot of grief, followed by resentment, quickly followed by story (“can’t they see what I saw?”)  forms. It loosens quickly, almost sheepishly. Good.

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This is the warrior’s path. This takes patience, self-compassion, and commitment.

I have this commitment to myself, and to the life I have been given. I made this commitment years ago, when I put on boxing gloves for the first time in earnest, and chose healing instead of despair. When I chose to walk on coals far hotter than anything I’m experiencing now. When I chose every day to face violent storms again, and again, and again – choosing day after day, even though my legs would freeze up and refuse to carry me some days; even though my hands would shake and refuse to hold my pen; even though the symptoms of the war I fought sometimes showed up in humiliating ways, stripping me in public, rendering me unable to hide PTSD; even when the symptoms made each miniscule step forward an enormous effort- an effort that took everything I had. I have often made mistakes, been unskillful and emotionally irresponsible, but I showed up. I learned to deeply celebrate the smallest of victories. I fell into self-reproach when I stumbled, but I kept showing up. I got myself to the counselor. I got myself to the boxing bags. I made the healthy food. I walked away from abuse. I chose myself. I apologized and took responsibility. I suited up, wrapped my hands, allowed my tears to fall in prayer, and showed up with relentless determination.

From that time, I know a core of strength lives in me that nothing can destroy. I’ve obscured it lately with self-reproach and unkind words, self-blame. I have assaulted myself, as though if I could figure out what was wrong with me and uproot it at the source, I would finally be chosen. I would finally be seen.
I kept learning, kept taking responsibility, kept building more lesson plans for myself and seeking out what I had done wrong. thinking I was still on the warrior’s path, the path of wisdom.

Do you see the disconnect, here? I only saw it this morning. The ego got fairly tricky on me, and decided to disguise itself as betterment. As “healing.” As thinking I know what someone else is choosing, and what they’re experiencing. “This person is angry at you because you are flawed and you messed up.  You messed everything up. Again.” There are so many flaws in this belief. This is all a form of control. It’s ego, thinking I know what is going on in someone else. Seeking to control someone else’s choices and the perception *I invented*, by changing myself. It’s choosing an imaginary someone else before myself, my real self.

It’s Black Panther’s brother, choosing death “instead of slavery,” when really, he was choosing death instead of the firewalk that is swallowing pride, making peace, honoring himself, and choosing to live. Choosing to learn. Choosing the fight towards freedom that comes with walking the warrior’s path. pri_66417644

Other people’s choices HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. Others’ perceptions aren’t my business. And so I release it.
I return to my power by realizing my worth. By focusing on myself again, my own life, and what a deep gift it is, and has been. I return to my power by focusing on what I choose. By choosing my own life.

I ask a question: If what someone else chooses for their life has nothing to do with me, and “self-improvement” is not what I thought it was, how, then, can I transform this? I thought I had let go. Apparently, it’s a matter of letting go, then letting go again. Maybe we’re never really “done” with releasing. Maybe that’s one of the most important lessons to learn in this life.
Love and release. Love and release. Love doesn’t seek to bind. Love allows. Even when my mind doesn’t comprehend another’s choice, love says “Good. Choose. Choose for you. If you don’t choose me, it isn’t personal.” Release. Love myself.

This is what I can learn, here. Lessons and self improvement that come with a sense of self-compassion, love and curiosity, those are the lessons I will follow, now.
Because how can I be walking the warrior’s path of love, if I refuse compassion to myself? So I just gently bring myself back to the path. This time, I feel so much lighter. I feel joy – this will be a dance.

I breathe again. I hold the fluttering bird that is wounded me in this instance. Her eyes are dull with pain, and she’s thrashing around a bit, one broken wing trailing stiffly through my fingers. I can feel her heart stuttering wildly, panicked, in my palm. She’s nearly incoherent – “he was- I thought – we had- he said – he hasn’t – he chose – but I brought – I was- why can’t -” these are the words that she gasps. I just hold her, breathe, soothe her. I imagine her surrounded in warmth, safety, comfort, and also freedom- I don’t restrain her with my hand. She is free to fly at any time.

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I whisper to her, so gently, the way I’d talk softly to a child who had awakened from a nightmare – “it is all unfolding as it should. whatever you are trying to make happen, release your hold. come back, now. Come back to my heart, and when you are ready, open up again with me. believe again with me. trust again with me. love again with me. it is all unfolding as it should. You will see; the painting of this life will be a beautiful masterpiece, when we are done.”  I stroke her feathers, and feel her calm. “I know it hurts. It is okay. Let it hurt. Let go of blame. Let go of reasons. Let it hurt, accept the hurt, and let go of any thought of why or predictions of what. Just be.”

The choice I make again: what can I learn from this? What can I learn in curiosity and playfulness, without reproach to self or others; how can I expand from this, how can my life and my heart become a bigger place?

This is the warrior’s path. It is deceptively gentle at times. It seeks stillness in the midst of story, talk, jagged energies that blame and criticize, rumor, choices not made from the highest self – and, as I just learned, it also recognizes self-harm in the seductive form of self-reproach and self-blame; it walks back to center, takes responsibility, which doesn’t look like shame- it looks like a gift. The gift of learning and improving.
How wonderful, really – the opportunity to see where my aim was off, my arrow didn’t fly true, and improve my aim,

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The warrior’s path winds to the center of the labyrinth and tries again. Patiently, without pride, without carrying anything but determination and curiosity, slow step by slow step, firmly, never giving up.

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