Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Returning to the Heart through Beauty

I could hardly complete my earlier walk due to snapping photos of nature dusted by a morning snow. I've been contemplating the conclusion of my last Musing. It went something like "with presence and mindfulness we can at any moment open to what and who we find in our heart and in doing so return the heart to the world."

After writing this, I found myself thinking about what that really means especially after coming across an interview on PBS about sex-trafficking and the billions made annually in trading women and children. What must the hearts of these people be like, those who are used and those who are the users and profiteers? What is the path of return to their hearts?

I suspect my morning's walk held a clue. Imagine the shift in the hearts of these people, those who buy and sell others, if they could appreciate the simple yet deep beauty in nature. I mean really see the colors, the textures and tones as well as hear the messages of the snow melting onto rock, the brillant blood-red berries juxtaposed to the pureness and innocence of white snow surrounded in life-filled leaves.
In this space and place of what feels like such heavy news, I draw inspiration on this winter's walk and that is Good News. Hold with me the many lives and hearts touched by human trafficking. May we all experience simple beauty and love.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Finding One's Juice or The State of My Internal State Department

Last evening, I lay on the sofa berating myself. Not a loud, harsh berating but a subtle, just below the radar of my consciousness berating. I had just written and posted a piece about the New Story and was quite upset the piece didn't have the juice or energy I like my writing to have. The truth was I was the one missing 'the juice.' Of course, I didn't realize this. In the moment I blamed hormones and my imminent period. Then I blamed the planets. I knew from a prior reading that Neptune's on my Mercury or something like that leaving me without the communicative, creative skills on which I thrive especially as someone ruled by Mercury which is all about communicating. I furthered my disconnected, juiceless state with a glass of red wine while watching news reruns of members of the new administration greet and talk with employees of the State Department. It wasn't until I shuffled down the hallway that I glimpsed what was going on in my 'internal state' department.

Like a shooting star, a thought from nowhere shot across my mind's night sky. It went something like: "I hope I don't loose this house." Last year through a series of synchronistic events, I bought a house in the country, a home that I literally felt had been awaiting me. Why would I suddenly think about loosing it?

Then another star shot past. "What if Bogey's dying?" Bogey is the tabby kitten that showed up the week of my birthday, the exact week I had asked Templeton my cat of nearly 18 years to return to me during her decline and death a year ago this coming week. Two hours earlier while I wrote the juiceless story about the New Story, the old story was being enacted in my heart as Bogey lay curled by my head at the top of my recliner. In the quiet, the only sounds were the periodic tapping of my fingers on the computer key board and the noticeable sound of Bogey's swallowing. The unavoidable sound reminded me of Templeton's final days. I did not want to hear this sound but couldn't avoid it. In pauses I would think, 'I don't want to loose this cat, but will if I must' and kept writing.

It wasn't until I lay in the dark bedroom that I realized my internal state department was filled with fear and mistrust. I have said at times that I've a defective wanter, not in the sense of our consuming, materialistic culture but in the allowing one's heart to long. Having grown up with Disappointment as a companion, I thought I had mastered not longing or wanting.

Fortunately over the recent years as I've embodied my personal shift, little green shoots of longing have emerged from what has felt like the cold earth of my heart much like the little plant in my garden that around New Year's was waking up to new life.

Yet in the dark of the night, I discovered that I didn't trust that both my new home and kitten would not be taken from me. Maybe the punitive, hell-fire-and-brimstone God of my childhood had not yet experienced or imagined the shift. My internal shift was in the process of being killed off by my lack of consciousness. The fear-based messages hanging out on my insides were draining life from me or the juice to which I was accustomed, just like a cold blast had killed the plant that two weeks prior had been greening.
Yes, this is the little plant. The Good News is I'm quite certain that in a few weeks I'll be able to post its resurrection thanks to the life juice that courses through it combined with just the right mix of elemental ingredients.

As for me, my 'juice' returned as soon as I became conscious or aware of what was transpiring inside me. The quiet fears of loss had resurrected the barrier around my inner garden, a fence around my heart allowing me to glimpse just enough love, beauty and delight, but not too much lest I get attached to a place, person or pet and have to suffer its loss.

What would happen if I consciously removed the barrier or took down this fence? What would it look like if I felt much delight or joy? Messages like winter cold fronts arrive. I hear: "Don't get all wrapped up in yourself." (Translation: You won't be liked if you're self-centered.) Another follows quickly with: "I don't want to be around when the other shoe drops." (Translation: Loss and pain are sure to follow your attachments.) Regardless of wine, Neptune or hormones, it was quite obvious that I had not been communicating with my own internal state of affairs. I had parts of myself that needed the reconciliation and diplomatic efforts of which I had earlier heard Obama, Clinton and Biden speak. I was the one experiencing juicelessness or aliveness not because I was afraid but because I wasn't aware of what was going on inside me.

Then I realized the barrier had been not only kept fear in but kept good ingredients out. Yesterday held two affirming interactions with strangers, each who temporarily infused me with excitement regarding a writing project on which I had just recommitted to work. My excitement was hardly even temporary thanks to the barrier.

Realizing all of this brings a smile and a sense of sinking down, resting into the soil of my Soul. From this place lively shoots of green immediately begin to sprout again even on this gray, winter's day.

The Good News - The juice of life awaits us even when the harsh weather of unchecked fears and attitudes temporarily block the flow. At any moment with presence and mindfulness, we can return to our hearts, open to what and who we find there and in doing so we return the heart to the world. - Dawn, the Good News Muse

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The New Story

While walking in my garden just after New Years, I found these little green shoots peering at me as I looked down. I quickly took a photo and thought, 'This represents the New Story.' I didn't have a clue what I meant by that. I had heard author and lecturer Jean Houston speak of the New Story some years ago during a Social Artistry conference but for the life of me I didn't know what relevance this little plant had. Now three weeks later, I keep coming back to this photo in my digital camera.

It's obvious with the events this week in Washington that we are living in times of New Story in light of a new administration that calls us to personal responsibility and service. Yet I keep asking myself what does the New Story look like up close and personal in my own life and how do I feel it, sense it, see it or hear it.

Like the little plant that I could have easily stepped on or overlooked, the New Story is tucked away in between the lines of my busy life like the green shoots were tucked among winter's leaves. Usually when I listen to that still small voice within I've clues as to the New Story I'm to be leaning into. The Whim, my name for the still small voice, tells me often to do the things I've procrastinated. My grandmother use to say, "If you don't use it, you loose it, in referring to her singing voice, that yes, she quit using years before she passed away." For at least three years I've wanted to take singing lessons so I finally am. As soon as I made the first appointment, I knew I was onto something. I hung up the phone, realized my palms were sweaty and my mind frozen. Fear came visiting, a sign that I was doing exactly what I needed. I noted the appointment on my calendar and got busy. Busyness is a great distraction.

The day prior to my first lesson, I felt disconnected and numb. Familiar with this feeling or lack of feeling, I quickly realized I was petrified of what the next day was to bring. Yet I drove myself to Christina's and discovered she was the perfect person to help with me my self-consciousness. (Jean Houston says, "Self-consciousness is a terminal disease." Isn't that a great line? The first time I heard this I realized I felt so sad with the realization that I was killing mySelf off out of concern as to what others would think if I were truly me.)

I felt so safe with Christina as she led me not through singing during that first lesson, but making all kinds of noises. We did motor boat up and down the piano keys, then she had me shouting "Hey" and flinging my arm into the air on the high notes as well as nasally singing out "Nee, nee, nee, nee, nee" reminiscent of the Knights of Nee in the Monty Python movie. I realize Christina is in my life to be my therapist of sorts a I get comfortable with my voice and exorcise the negative messages from the Old Story from childhood about women being quiet and not drawing attention to themselves. Those messages are escorted away when singing "Nee" and "Hey." I didn't realize they still inhabited my being until my first voice lesson....which brings me back to the New Story.

What is the New Story in your life? Is it shouting or calling to you and you don't realize it or you're just not paying attention? Is it more quietly trying to get your attention through the noticings of your heart? What stirs your heart or has it gone to sleep like mine did for so long unattended and neglencted? What ruts or habits do you get into and how long does it take you to get out once you realize you're in a rut? (Getting into nature, among people or cranking up my favorite music are great rut routers.) What things do you avoid that you tell yourself if you were someone else you might try or if you had more time? What things do people tell you you're good at yet when they do you cringe inside? Have you avoided like me taking a class that would make you stretch and lean into your fear? These are all possible clues and cues to the New Story in your life which like the little plant in the above photo has been waiting in cold dark Mother Earth (or ME in my case and YOU in yours) for just the right time to emerge. Something is waiting in each of us, wanting us to wake up so we can more fully take our place in the world. Regardless of what shows up as tomorrows headline, this is Good News! I'll sing or shout, "Hey" and "Nee" to that. - Dawn, The Good News Muse