The Girl Asleep at a Party

When I was in college, I used to get blackout drunk. At UC Santa Barbara, that is called “Wednesday” , Certain as there was a Saturday and I didn’t have rehearsal? I’d be drinking 5-6 hard liquor or beer drinks a night and wandering into a stranger’s house to use their bathroom. 

There would always be that one girl, asleep at a party. She’s surrounded by activity, people are stacking cups on her head, and the world could light on fire – she would not wake up.

A few months ago I had a very rude awakening. The world, the planet, our lives are all short and maybe we are able to come close to our reason being here. But in the meantime happiness is the only thing worth pursuing even if it means risking the way you used to be.

I’m anxious. All the time. I don’t know minute by minute what I’m supposed to do and I’m letting others dictate that for me. I’m trying to surrender to the path, let the ride be the guide and really choose what challenges me and makes me happy to wake up every day.

Put the pursuing of that makes me want to be the girl asleep at a party. I know I won’t be able to go back to it, but I want to be her, just for an evening. 

I’ve taken a little bit of Kava-Kava, this herbal anxiety medicine that I found at the organic drugstore. It makes my lips tingle. It makes me want to eat a cookie. It makes me want a hug. It makes me want to pass out in the middle of the party.

This is the challenge of a conscious life : once you wake up, you can never go back to sleep. You must be conscious at all times even when it feels painful or scary. You must be the truth about your life if you want to get anywhere close to your joy.

I hope that I’m listening to what I truly believe is in my heart. I hope to stay awake and energized throughout the entire process of transformation. I hope I don’t get swallowed up by what I expect of myself. I hope that I don’t die before realizing infinity every day. I hope I can live in joy and happiness even when it hurts. I hope to never fall asleep again. 

May you never fall asleep again. 

Sat Nam

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Becoming Captain America

Times of grit and times of grace are needed, now more than ever. Homeless families trying to keep minimum-wage jobs, global warming crisis that is causing levels of panic, veterans coming home from war and causing harm to themselves and others. We are no longer peacemakers if we want to make an impact, we have to be the cause-and-effect participants in helping the person next to us. 

And it starts with the nuanced hero at home.

Look at your life, everything about it. Which parts make you feel scared? How often do you find yourself alone with your thoughts and they make you feel lost? Which parts of yourself are you really convinced may someday be the end of your own happiness. 

Comic book movies have been hitting the theaters and making big bucks lately : The Amazing Spider Man 2, Captain America, Winter Soldier…

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What do these movies have in common? Good guy. Bad guy. Good guy wins. Bad guy loses. It’s what we are all hoping for ourselves : some clarity of the enemy and the hero. What we are doing wrong and what we are doing right in our life becomes a true or false question. We become heroes. 

Today, I give myself permission to be the nuanced hero at home. The hero who has trouble getting out of bed sometimes because things are hard for her. The hero who then decides to do yoga instead of feel bad about it, and calls her friend to say hello. The hero who sucks at math. The hero who is constantly apologizing for things that aren’t her fault. The hero that isn’t sure how to live in this world, but keeps trying to be better even when she sets herself back.

I’ve got some news : the nuanced hero at home is the good guy and the bad guy all at once. Make peace with who that nuanced hero is RIGHT NOW, and end your suffering. End the idea that you have to have it all figured out. End the idea that you can’t handle the unstable life you have, or that peace is an impossibility. Because at the end of the day, the nuanced hero needs to be happy – and he’ll find that making himself or herself happy first, then sharing that with others. 

I wish all this for you, my heroes. 

Sat Nam,

The Price of All That Happy

I saw an adorable but ugly dog – my favorite kind. I squealed at him and shouted, “PUPPY!”. The owner looked frightened. When I find out that my favorite band is playing near me, I’d put on displays of convivial joy while hunting down tickets online. If someone handed me a shaker of truffle salt? I would jump up and down in excitement.

Professionals stay neutral. Children stay happy. Realists stay realistic, but also can’t get hurt as easily. Where is the middle ground? Neutrality is what we seek on the spiritual journey, but also happiness. What happens when we seek to cross these both? Does it even happen?

This morning, as I wring myself out in yoga class and get rid of all the fears that surround me on a daily basis? I’m struck by the fact that we can never have a lot of happy without a lot of sad. Just as in a risk-and-reward situation, the higher you go the higher you have to fall.

Consider the wave. As it heads towards the shore it gets highest before it falls. But then it goes back and another high is reached. The water goes fast and then slow, and paces based on it’s peaks and valleys. When it’s closer to the sand, it is forced to absorb the changing landscape before it has strength to rise again.

life like this...

life like this…

But it always rises. The higher it goes the more it inspires, accumulates and moves. It takes the whole landscape with it and fills its volume with sea life. It’s majestic, joyful and moving as the way nature intended. Beautiful motion.

I realize I am in a phase of my life now that I am tentatively calling “the good happy lonely”. I’m a woman on the verge of the next phase of my life and trying to enjoy the present while all of life fills itself inside me. That makes me happy. The price of all that happy is an equal or greater amount of sadness sometimes. But I have to know deep inside me that the wave will grow strong again even when I don’t feel it will.

The price of all this happy is sometimes laying on a mattress in the middle of the floor and feeling a void. The price of all that happy is a vulnerable feeling that I’m exposed as a fraud to everyone who knows me, false as that assumption may be. The price of all that happy is some sweat, tears and pain. The price of all that happy is sacrifice. The price of all that happy is some love lost over time.

But then I see a carton of truffle salt in the grocery store and I think – the world cannot be so bad. This savory fruit of the sea exists, and just like the sea will rise with me again.

May the price of all your happy be the strength to fight for it and let things go. May the price of all your happy be presence. May you ride your life like a gentle wave and feel lighter in every step along the way. May the price of all that happy be a committed relationship to the wonderful, amazing soul that you are.

Sat Nam.

When Looking for Signs Goes Wrong – The Bunny Story

I’m trying to be a grounded spiritualist, but I’m constantly surrounded by puzzling signs. Some of them are wonderful, some of them are terrible. Here is an example of when looking for signs goes wrong, for those of us who are still waiting for that sign of destiny from the universe.

Last month I applied for a job that I truly wanted. The ache in my heart for everything this job offered : benefits, freedom, money, a mission and good healthy food on discount? My interview was on a day when the new moon was in Aries, my sun sign. For those of you unfamiliar with astrology, some of the signs in the new moon may auspiciously be supporting our causes on this planet – especially when the sign is similar to our own. The sun was shining, the interview went extremely well, even the lady at the jewelry shop next door told me the job was mine, and offered me a sublease in the area. “For WHEN you get it dear, WHEN you get it!”the kind old lady smiled at me and said.

This HAS to be a sign, I said to myself.

I failed to notice it was April Fool’s day. Got a call in the evening that they had offered the position to someone internally, but would call me at the end of the month with another job opening. Sign? Maybe not.

Fast forward to end of the month. A day astrologically auspicious to those at a crossroads. Offering balance, the grand cardinal cross was a time that signified the end of self-pity, and the beginning of an awakening into fullness.

Then I saw the bunny.

Outside the office window where I was working? The most adorable baby bunny in the world was munching on a green leaf and staring at me. I stared back at him.

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“Everything is going to be as fine as I am adorable. Tee hee!!”

He was the cutest thing I had ever seen. We communicated. He stared at me and I stared at him and I felt so happy inside. This is a sign of fertility, of things moving, of freedom, of play. I felt so ready to accept what was mine : my dream of supporting myself and moving on into the next phase of my life was being supported by ADORABLE MOTHER NATURE!!

This HAS to be a sign, I said to myself.

I got the call. There was a job available, but for much less hours and much less pay than the previous job. I told the hiring manager that I had to think about it.

I felt sad. I had been waiting on baited breath for this destiny sign to make itself known to me. For the right thing to happen to me at the right time. It sucked. For about two minutes, I let the tears flow in the parking lot. Then I felt relief.

“Now I don’t have to wait on them anymore”…I thought. “Now I can have some freedom in decisions that were hindered by hope and looking everywhere but now.”

It’s amazing how good it feels when you don’t have to rely on the outside anymore to bring you everything you ever wanted. When you can check yourself with who you are rather than what you need. When you can let go of the bunny and really focus on what’s right in front of you. Everything you need you already have. 

I’m not saying it doesn’t suck when you hope for something and then it doesn’t turn out. I’m not saying that the joy in finding isn’t something worth searching for. But I hope in the next week that you find that all the strength, love and prosperity you have ever wanted is not what the bunny has. It’s what you have.

I hope that every missed opportunity is a direction for you. I hope every failure is leading you towards success on a ladder you want to climb. I hope prosperity follows you as you follow your heart. I hope you let love win when you are looking, and you let love be when you know who you are. I hope you make your life a two way mirror of love : looking up and looking in front of you in the glorious dance of the present. 

Sat Nam.

“the universe is counting on our belief
that faith is more powerful than fear
and in that the shifting moment
we’ll all remember why we’re here”
-from “Awaken”at MysticMamma.com

Fear is a Brave Stone

Start, and the pressure will be off. Maybe not right away, maybe you aren’t even aware of the changes that are happening. But you’ll feel much better under pressure in the right direction than stuck in an old one. 

You know how the saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. Something moving has no time to atrophy. But what I’m curious about is how that stone started to roll? Was he pushed off a hill? Did he get dislocated from a spot that was formerly secure? Did he grow from a small grain of sand which over time snowballed into a bigger, stronger stone?

Any of these can happen. But here’s how life works, according to a rolling stone:

1. The first three seconds of falling are going to be the most terrifying part of your trajectory. You are going to gather unfamiliar momentum and it’s going to scare you shitless.

2. After that, you are going to keep going and it won’t be as hard. But you still won’t know what’s at the end of your race. So keep racing.

3. If parts of you break off during the fall, you are going to have to leave them behind. True story.

4. You are falling as part of an organic landscape. Everything around you, the earth, the sky, gravity and all the elements in nature are supporting you, even though you don’t feel it. 

5. When you land, you are out of momentum until the next shift. But you have changed all the landscape around you by risking your fall, brave stone. Don’t take your new role for granted, because you may have to change it just as quickly.

6. You have fallen into a better place. Actually? I can’t say this for sure. But you have fallen and you are still here. So that’s something. Be grateful. 
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“FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!”

 

May you be continually falling into better landscapes. May you trust the first three seconds of your fall are making the rest of your run easier. May you be truthful to your path, even when you feel pushed by it. May you fall with grace. May you land with ease. May you live with passion.

Sat Nam

Ke$ha and my Klesha

I’ve experienced surges of emotion in the past month. Euphoria, Sadness, Madness, Despair. As one who traverses the meditative path, I try not to let my feelings of life become the facts of life. But I’m human and when crisis happens the first thing that falls out of line is my emotional stability. I can only blame it on my moon in Pisces for so long, and then I actually have to put my big girl pants on.

What happens when we experience separation from our fixed identities is what the Buddhist tradition would call kleshas. Anger, Jealousy, Pride, Fear. Those are all strong emotions that occur when we separate from our former selves. Look at a very drunk college co-ed. She stumbles on her heels, gets upset when her phone dies, and cries when she can’t find her way out of the bathroom.  That is the esscence of Klesha, all reactive and no clarity…lost and hurt for no reason.

My kleshas have a visual component to them. You are all familiar with a whiskey-loving pop star named Ke$ha. For those unfamiliar, her songs involve waking up in someone else’s bathroom, brushing her teeth with Jack Daniels, and becoming so crazy over a man that she likens love to a drug. She is my vajazzled force of self destruction with glitter in all parts unknown.

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Is this your bathroom? I think I’ll sleep here tonight – Me, in College.

But what’s so interesting to me about my personal party demon? She’s seductive. Secretly we adore this hot mess. When Britney Spears was on the brink of suicide and getting into car accidents? We thrive on that story. When Lindsay Lohan gets away with another drunken incident? We want to see more. Not only are these kleshas of culture in my consciousness as the party demons of my  past, but she’s in the collective consciousness of the world as what we all value.

Because if the world convinces us that emotional calamity is our normal, then we don’t have to be bothered with our infinity. If we are taught enough times that being crazy is what’s expected, then we don’t have to be responsible for our lives. 

There are two sides to kleshas when it comes to going through hardships. There is the creative burn of this process, where we go through the veil of our emotions and fears and come out the other side as clear. Britney’s comeback? Getting over a loss? Doing what you love in spite of your fear? All empowering. We have equal opportunity to rise through the calamity and that makes us stronger and clearer. When we break through our emotional passages, we become human and we recognize that suffering in others.

Now here I am, at the age of 28 and my emotional calamities have not gotten any less complicated. Hurt, Regret, Fear, Lack. All of my Kleshas which appear to me like seductive club monsters who could turn my mental clarity into hazy weapons-grade jaeger bombs. An emotional hangover much worse than the physical. Self poisoning at its worst.

What I need to remember is this: all of this emotional Klesha, Ke$ha, and turmoil? Comes from a false image. It comes from an image that I am separate from infinity, love, and the light inside that guides me in the darkness. All emotional calamity is from a separation that doesn’t exist between me and infinity.

We are all beautiful creatures of this planet trying to become soul. We stumble, we cry, we get drunk and pass out. But we wake up and we try again. Every morning. Even if we feel terrible consistently, we slowly learn to detatch from that feeling and eventually it doesn’t bother us anymore. We are soulful beings here to learn messy love and life. Calamity is not our purpose, but navigating calamity through the strength of our path will get us there.

May this week be filled with clarity and healing. May all of your emotional turmoils be re-directed towards your inner light and burned out with the intensity of your truth. May you never feel sadness, fear, anger or hurt when your love becomes the place of peace. May your daily practice peel back the layers of your emotional pain so you may live your destiny and the destiny of a peaceful planet. Sat Nam.

Lakshmi: The Love Versus the Lack

I am overdrawn by thirty dollars. I have put the gas from our family boat into my car to keep it going. My car looks like I’m living in it as I drive a full hour to work for a minimum wage job. I’m still waiting on checks from work I did weeks ago. 

I need a prosperity intervention. Badly.

I look at a picture of Lakshmi. This Hindu Goddess represents prosperity and beauty. I look at her like I looked at the cheerleaders that went to my high school : I’ll never look like that. Surrounded by open lotus flowers, Elephants fat and healthy, and a pool of water that looks like the most serene bath I’ve ever seen. I want to dive headfirst into this picture. 

What I don’t realize is that Lakshmi is a dual-faceted goddess. On one side, she represents Bhudevi, the earthly world of material possessions. On the other, Sirdevi, which is the spiritual world or energy of the unseen realm. 

What is interesting to this picture is that Lakshmi, in her essence, is the embodiment of pure love. Prosperity is the opposite of greedy because it takes place in both the earthly and spiritual realm. Bhakti (Love), Atma (Soul) and Pakriti (Spiritual Purity) are all achieved with her blessing.

I had a talk with my father the other day about budget. Not for how to spend money or balance a checkbook, but how to give of my time and value it. I have been told by those close to me that I give away before I give to myself and that causes my crisis most often. 

“Lizzie, your mother and I seem to notice that you don’t really value your talent when it comes to getting paid. I’m a lawyer, and I do nothing but spend my time on things. You seem to be entering a place where your time is your money, and you can’t ask for what you need. Have you noticed that you don’t take care of yourself first?” 

Internally, I’m dealing with a glass ceiling that has to do with a constant feeling of lack. Self love and self loathing have been twin dragons that when pitted against each other can battle most of my demons. But I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m realizing an extremely important fact.

Your mental image of what you deserve, in the spiritual, emotional and material realm becomes the master of your self worth. 

It’s not self esteem, confidence or talent. Does the Goddess of Lakshmi set foot in the limpid pool of your heart, or does she have no beautiful waters to step in? Have you created a place for her fat Elephants to play and eat? Have you enough nutrient-rich soil in the waters of your soul to plant the lotus of good fortune?

This week, may love fill your heart where you feel only lack. May you find ways to give to yourself first before you fall apart from emotional, material or spiritual starvation. May you have the light of your soul lead you to a beautiful garden of prosperity, so that you may share that with others. May you be great and full. Grateful. Sat Nam.

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All of this could be yours, my dear…