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Monday, May 28, 2012

So She Said

A while back I was contemplating my advanced spiritually—how I had come so far from the pain of my past, growing into a confident woman needing nothing to validate or complete her. I was feeling strong and autonomous. Looking back on it now perhaps I was a bit overly confident, but hey, I worked hard for that confidence, so what if I walked with a swagger. It was at this point that life challenged me—silently watching as I ran headlong into a perfect storm, foolishly believing that my power and instincts were infallible.

Oh foolish woman, handing over your power like worthless crumbs; how long wilt thou turn back to the beggarly elements of self-doubt?

The thing about the flesh is that it never changes, and the pink insecurities of my ten-year-old self still resides beneath the weathered surface of my aged epidermis. My weaknesses don’t magically disappear just because I’ve grown to understand them. They will forever rise out of my life—rocky shoals that I must navigate around like a seasoned sailor, respecting the ancient places and the unpredictability of the sea.

After many fruitful years of pain and ponderings I have come to the conclusion that denial is delusion dressed in a sensible suit, and naivete, ignorance in its infancy.
So she said, with eyes wide opened.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sticky Intimacy

The morning yawns awake
its amber brilliance revives me.
String me up with the sun
I want to peek at the world through the oaks.
I’m weary of this limited view
ground zero with the lilacs.

The sky is the audience
of the dark bumblebee’s dance
navigating virgin blossoms
yet missing out on the bruising intimacy
of bee’s sticky feet
and the swooning perfume of pollination.

From afar it only seems romantic.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ripples and Repercussions

Saturday evening I was heading north on the Silver Star, a passenger train crammed with a mishmash of adventurous souls traveling over the Mother’s Day Weekend. It was surprising to me how crowded the train was. I assumed that half the passengers were suffering from aviophobia, while the rest were either eager train enthusiasts visiting the Tampa station to celebrate their 100-year anniversary, (which I totally enjoyed) or those whose budgets couldn’t handle the price of airfare. For me it was a combination of two: plus the thrill of being lost in a tangle of strangers, experiencing a certain freedom reserved only for the anonymous.

The train car rattled over the tracks, beating out a rickety rhythm, rocking me to sleep, next to my hushed seatmate, who just that afternoon was still a complete stranger to me—a face with no story, just an extra in my life-movie. But after being sequestered together to a space no larger than a coat closet for fifteen hours, a sort of forced intimacy occurred, bonding this writer to a retired New York City cop with a prickly persona and a heart the size of humanity.

I’m a people watcher; I get my cues and clues watching how people speak to, and about, one another. My defenses rise like steely porcupine needles when I see things that I don’t like: negativity, prejudice, hatefulness, pettiness; all these traits cause me to withdraw into my silent shell—protecting all my soft spots.

Warren was easy for me to read. Initially I could tell that, like myself, he had already withdrawn into his shell; although due to sheer necessity his vulnerable neck and head were poking out, looking around for his seat. His voice was set to “gruff” warning others not to screw with him, stashing his fleshy heart, warm with blood and kindness, safely away within his own shell.

Perhaps it was fate that had decided that Warren and I should meet, although I did kind of initiate things. At first he was behind me looking a bit confused over the seat numbers, but then I invited him to sit beside me, figuring he looked harmless enough. It’s a crapshoot on the train, and the last thing I wanted was to be seated next to Mr. Stinky or Mrs. Crabapple.

We sat politely side by side, both of us taking turns sharing our stories. Two chatterboxes who also happened to be good listeners, creating a give and take as rewarding as an exchange between a kid and an ice cream truck on a blistering August afternoon.

The more we chatted the more I liked him. He spoke with a disarming honesty about himself, and the lessons and rewards he had gleaned from life’s experiences. He expressed immense gratitude for his family—his incredible wife who loved and understood him, and a treasured daughter, smart and beautiful, as he stated, “his best contribution to society.”

We decided to have dinner in the dining car. I guess on trains space is pretty limited because we found ourselves sitting across from an austere looking couple, straight-laced diners, possessing a no-nonsense air about them—Mr. & Mrs. Behave Yourself. Of course at this point Warren and I had sped beyond common niceties and splashed headlong into puddles of silliness. We were like a couple of slap stick comedians sitting at a properly set table, stuffing our nervous giggles beneath our linen napkins, desperately searching for our adult faces—and our table manners.

Watching Warren adjust himself to this couple was like watching the destruction of the Hoover Dam—first the cracks (wine was involved in this stage) then the leaks (humor) and then the flood. No filter “be yourself and screw them” Warren was in full form, and I, being a proper lady, followed his lead until Mr. & Mrs. Behave Yourself morphed into Mr. & Mrs. Life Can Be Fun, and the four of us sat laughing and talking until the waiter poured our drinks into “to go” cups, and shooed us out of the dining car for closing.

We said goodbye to our new friends, who now sported “yes” faces for the entire world to admire, and then we found our seats.

We sat and talked about how alike we were and how much pleasure we found in cracking up Mr. & Mrs. Behave Yourself. We theorized that fate had accidentally thrown the two of us together, causing a rift in the time continuum, thus allowing us to see beyond the cosmic curtain for a brief moment. We saw that we were secret agents from the other side, strategically placed on earth as crust busters for those who take themselves, and life, way too seriously. We had the same life-tasks and the two of us together were—well, pretty efficient, but perhaps a bit much for one small train.

Eventually we nodded off, our heads silently bobbing in sync with the bumps, as we passed the dimly lit hubs of sleepy unknown towns, their soft yellow lights glowing on yesterdays fashions, mom and pop eateries, and neighborhood thrift stores.

My reasons for traveling north were as varied as my thoughts, a little business—a bit of pleasure, but mostly because I felt an unction drawing me northward. I had to go and find out what life had to say to me.

I had never met Warren before, but by the time my trip was over I felt we had become sure friends, and that our meeting was a sort of divine appointment, the repercussions of which will ripple to the corners of the world touching unknown hearts—forever.

It’s an exciting thing to follow your heart—opening yourself up to an innumerable amount of unknown possibilities, and betting on yourself to find what it is that you need. This trip has provided for me a sparkling opportunity, thus wiping my slate clean in order to write something fresh—creating for myself a new chapter as a woman, author—and friend to Warren.

I’ll keep you posted on my discoveries as I walk, with eyes wide open, into the vivid blue of each Tarheel day. Life is good. Tough. But good.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Out Of Whack!

I’ve been out of whack lately. The thing about being out of whack is that you don’t fully realize that you’re out of whack, but the people who know you the best can usually tell that you’re out of whack. You avoid these people because, even though you don’t know that you’re out of whack, deep down you really do know it, but if you admit to it, then you’re responsible to do something about it. Truth be told, you don’t know what to do about it, so denial remains the best course of action. Whew!

Got that?

Actually, I didn’t realize how out of whack I was. I had inadvertently taken much of the positive energy that I was receiving from my work, and recycled it into anxiety. I did this by becoming obsessed with expectations, how tos, and outcomes. “How am I going to market my book? When will I get the e-book done? How can I drive people to my website? Will they love my novel as much as I do?” And then this weekend, after a very long period of scratchy static playing in my head, my spirit broke through the noise and spoke to me saying, “Hello! Spirit to Leah! — Sit still and do ONLY those things that you’re inspired to do.”

Wow! Makes sense! Actually, that’s how I used to do things—before I got out of whack. How could I have possibly forgotten something so simple?

Without inner discernment and direction I wouldn’t know what to do next, and the thousands of mass media voices that scream for my attention daily would eventually drive me loony! You know about those voices don’t you? They sound something like this:
Discover the 10 Secrets to Successful Everything.
Fifteen Things That Successful People NEVER Do.
How To Self-Publish Like a Pro
Five Things That Big Time Publisher’s Don’t Want You To Know.
And on and on…

I was inspired when I wrote my book. I was inspired when I started my blog. I was inspired when I published the book, although looking back on it now I can see that I began neglecting my life some time ago, forgetting that my life is the actual source of inspiration, and that the other things are merely the condiments. I guess I’ve been trying to survive on condiments for quite a while now, and although I learned as a young child how to appreciate the delectable tanginess of a mustard sandwich, the nutritional value of such food is very limited.

Inspiration is everywhere if you simply open your eyes.

I treated my life as an intruder, becoming somewhat snappy with it when it would try to get my attention. Chronic intrusions tend to do that to you when you’re trying to concentrate on something that you perceive to be of the utmost importance—mustard.

My writing is supposed to reflect the content of my heart and life. It’s a tool for my soul’s expression—I forgot how important inspiration was—and how good it felt, and that inspiration is the soul’s perspiration, it only comes while engaged in active living. Without it we lose direction, heart, and power.

I started a month of meditation this month with Jodi, at Soul Speak and although I’ve fumbled along with it, fighting off monkey mind, forgetting to “check in” with the group, and fidgeting like a toddler in a car seat, I believe the mindfulness of setting a small part of my day aside for quiet time and reflection has helped me to rediscover my center. This is a perfect example of simple efforts being rewarded.

I realize now that man was not created for work, but work for man, and that putting anything ahead of the loving art of living is not art at all. It’s intrusive fear based busyness; the fruit of which can be very costly.

So, now I’m back to center where the essence of inspiration dominates over the stench of ego, and where my actions line up with my belief system—that I was created to learn, love, and give back, and that the order of things (and there is an order) will flow as I stay plugged into love and the limitless supply of inspiration that love provides.

As Corrie Ten Boom would say, “Snuggle don’t struggle.

I agree Corrie.

A couple of inspired fellows.