investments, darkness, and gifts?

I’m pretty convinced that the songwriters of Mumford and Sons hired a private investigator to follow me around since 2002 and collect fodder for their songs.  They’ve made millions on my life!  I am also determined to write a blog entry on each song…

Today’s message is brought to you by poet Mary Oliver,  the letter “G”, the emotion “grief”, the song: Awake My Soul

The Mumford P.I.’s must have written this song while I was “self-emptying” myself in formation to become a nun:

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes…And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know…My weakness I feel I must finally show…Lend me your eyes I can change what you see…But your soul you must keep totally free…

All true…but, you see, I freely, enthusiastically, with my whole heart I chose this.  I entered into the process, I trusted the process; I invested my life.  Freely.  With an open heart.

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die…Where you invest your love, you invest your life…

Invest your love. Invest your life.  This is painstakingly my truth.

My favorite poet, Mary Oliver, has a poem:

Someone I once loved gave me a box full of darkness.  It took me years to realize that this too was gift.

Grief smacked me in my face today.  She’s sneaky…she comes in many forms.  You think she’s gone or at least leashed or sedated, but she’s still there; waiting patiently to envelop you with her suffocating presence   Today, she came in the form of love, kindness, and hugs…unexpected and overwhelming.  She also reared herself in a more reasonable, “logical” way: rejection and forgetfulness.  I hate her–her unpredictability; not knowing her place nor appropriateness or timing!

My love and life were invested.  My investments have also handed me a life-sized box of darkness.  My God…I pray I can find the gifts sooner than later.

real.truth.experience.joy

 

Sanctuary

sanctuary—safe haven—refuge—asylum—shelter—harbor—retreat—protection

 I’m visiting one of my “happy places”—Door County, Wisconsin.   I have been coming here since I was an infant with my family; usually camping at the beautiful Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek.  I’m not the most spontaneous person, but a couple weeks ago, I got it in my head that I needed to come up here for a few days.  (Now, some of you may argue that a couple of weeks is not being spontaneous, but for me…well…) 

I wanted just a little, tiny, cabin with a space to make some simple food and enjoy the wonderfulness that is Door County.  I couldn’t find the right spot.  Labor Day weekend in Door County?  The somewhat “last hurrah” for a Northwood’s vacationers paradise? Ummm…not only was it difficult to find a place…rates were through the roof.  I figured that my way impulsive and crazy ideas were just too plain crazy (yeah…going to Door County…sooooo crazy!) for this timing.   No big deal.  I did one more search and came across this website for a “retreat cabin” called Sanctuary.  It looked cute, simple, everything I needed, accessible to all my favorite things…and you wouldn’t believe the price.  Serendipitous! 

I don’t have it in my head that I’m on retreat; that was not really my objective.  However, incorporating some retreatish space comes naturally.  Today, I woke up (after sleeping until 10…thank you Jesus!) and had a curiosity to ponder why I’d be led to Sanctuary and what that might mean for me right now.  I don’t know that I’ve come up with anything (ha ha), but I thought it might be worth writing about…(my stream of consciousness/”not planned out” blog entries always end up interesting to say the least.)

I began reflecting upon that I’ve been pretty lonely these days; especially in my new place since when I moved in May.  The contrast which struck me is how I’m feeling “full” and content here in this place of intentional solitude.  I like quiet.  I like space.  What is it that makes this intentional solitude a place of comfort rather than a place of anxiety/loneliness when I’m at home? 

I don’t know…so if you figure that out please write to me…fast!  Have a nice day; until next time…

Ha!  Just kidding (although part of me would love to leave my readers hanging like that…).  I really don’t do feelings very well…but if someone held me down and my life depended upon naming one, I think I could name loneliness with some accuracy.

I’m just going to put it out there…loneliness sucks.  My image is this dead-like weight that holds you down while you walk around looking like a Neanderthal almost standing upright, but not quite.  It duct tapes you to the pity pot and forces you to think pitiful things.  Loneliness, schmonlieness. 

For me at this point, loneliness feels like the scratch in the record (CD? I guess you can’t scratch an MP3…) that when it hits, the damn song starts over or running on a treadmill that has no emergency shut off cord.  It reminds me of where I’m not (living in community), what I don’t have (community, friends, etc), and what I deeply desire.  When I’m in that rut…all I feel is the same old pain, anger, and frustration.  Icky! Icky!   Enough already…own it, acknowledge, blah blah don’t stuff…but seriously…I’ve had enough.

I’m an optimist by nature (although, if you don’t believe me because of my  latest writings…travel back in time to www.onefunnunslife.blogspot.com and read some of the early writings…it’s true…it’s in me somewhere, still trying to find her!)—when I’m walking like the Neanderthal and duct taped to the pity pot, I get mad and frustrated.  Oh…those are two helpful things in this situation!  NOT.  Mad+frustration+lonely+duct tape does not = optimism or a catapult out of the rut.  Truthfully…I want to focus on where I am…what I do have…what I deeply desire, yes…and see it as possible.   

Maybe this is what Sanctuary is providing me right now.  A refuge and protection from duct tape and scoliosis—reminders that solitude doesn’t mean alone, my crushed dreams and annihilated inner self don’t mean terminal, and that Sanctuary is sometimes serendipitous and exactly what I need to find another starting point.

real.truth.experience.joy

zip codes…a story of transition

Today, not unlike a usual occurrence, I was asked to verify my zip code.  It took me a moment to think and I responded.  Then, this strange foggy cloud came over me. 

I don’t mind change; in fact, often times I embrace it.  What I don’t like…one tiny bit…is transition.  It messes with my psyche, my routine, my homeostasis (I’m Type A…don’t do this to us folk!).  I’m tired and off-balance.  Confused and maybe a little lost.  I’m telling you…transition is no picnic…it messes with you, big time. 

I moved a week ago.  I’m inhabiting an absolutely, fabulous apartment, in a hip and trendy, young and vibrant, community-active neighborhood, two blocks from Lake Michigan.  This move was for my ever-continuing process of self-care and growth (ugh.)  Simply put, I needed to get away from my nun-life.  I needed a new space, a fresh start; not constant reminders of my deep aches and grief.  I was semi-excited, semi-anxious, and semi-sad–I’ve lived in the same zip code for the past 13 years, until a week ago. I didn’t really make that connection until this afternoon.

So what is it about transition?  Well, I can start with Captain Obvious flying into my blog: uncomfortable, inconvenient, messy, illogical reactions…do I need to keep going?  No…that’s not it…there’s something more…something underneath those things…hmmm… I contemplated, I walked, I journaled, I tarot-ed (for those of you tarot fans at home: princess of cups…3rd time!), I ate chocolate…nope, nada, at least nothing to describe the connection between transition and my zip code grief. 

Then my friend Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, jumped off my bookshelf.  This is one of those books that I received as a Junior in college, 11 years ago, and have read it several times when I am at a “what-the-hell-do-I-do-now” moment.  Without fail, something new speaks to me every time.  I opened the book up randomly and this is what leapt off the page:

[regarding pilgrimage] “a transformative journey to a sacred center full of hardships, darkness, and peril… challenges…

Ok…I’m listening…

…largely beyond our control, can strip the ego of the illusion that it is in charge…

Pfft…great…just great…

 …and make space for the true self to emerge…

And…here’s the nugget.  That damn nugget of knowledge that makes me squirm, roll my eyes, and attempt to deny the truth of it.  Shucks.  Thank you very much, Parker Palmer.

Not to belabor the darkness of my journey (although, in a blog that’s subtitled: real.truth.experience.joy…this is where I’m at people…this is my real, my truth, and my experience…and for God sakes, it better be leading toward JOY!)…but…this is so painfully true and speaks to me of zip code grief and transition. 

As much as I was sick of sitting in my yuck pile–surrounded by things that remind me of my grief–and know I need to move on psychically, physically, emotionally, moving forward also meant moving away.  I moved away from my grief, but also the things, people, relationships, commitment, etc that brought me the most joy.  Changing my “space” to create space for the new to emerge.  That sounds honkey-dory, but seriously people…it is not a fun, rainbows and butterflies, lets-go-sing-kumbaya kind of process.  You want me to do what??  Embrace the “journey”, give up the illusion of control, and trust that this, thing, this me, will emerge?  Seriously…what a ridiculous idea! 

And yet…my zip code still changed.  Moving away? No..moving forward…5 numbers at a time. 

real.truth.experience.joy

Be ignited…or be gone…

Tomorrow is my birthday–32 years old! I like to post an annual b-day post because I see it as a great opportunity to reflect on the year past and the year ahead.

I hesitated starting a new blog until I was in a “good space” again…where people could enjoy and be joyful about what’s coming from the inside…out. My real.truth.experience.joy creed burned through me and reminded me (oh so often I receive this reminder) that it’s real to have pain, speak your truth, grief is an experience of life, and joy…well “they” all tell me it’s there somewhere.

And that, folks, is where I am on the afternoon eve of my 32nd birthday…in pain, grieving, searching for my joy, and speaking my truth (as opposed to my preferred method of not speaking…anything)

Oh…you’re still reading? I haven’t scared you off yet? Way to go trooper! My 2012 b-day reflection begins with a poem by my FAVORITE poet, Mary Oliver:

What I Have Learned So Far

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside, looking into the shining world? Because, properly attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion. Can one be passionate about the just, the ideal, the sublime and the holy, and yet commit to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a story, all kindness begins with the sown seed. Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of light is the crossroads of–indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

(Oliver, Mary. New and Selected Poems: Volume Two. 2005.)

Oh geeze…where do I start? Let’s move backwards…shall we? “Be ignited, or be gone…”–If you know me…you know that I have a fiery passion. If I had to sum up my life’s call in 5 words or less it would be these words. Ending this poem in this way I find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. For me, it connotes that I still have enough to be ignited again. I need to find that which allows me to burn again fiercely and with sustenance. Or be gone…I couldn’t agree more…use it or lose it people.

It was this line: “Can one be passionate about the just, the ideal, the sublime and the holy, and yet commit to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so…” that pulled me in with gusto. As a passionate person, who just so happens to be ignited by justice and idealism for sure…sublimity…hmm, I supposed if I thought of the synonym transcendent then yes…my faith, my belief in God…sure I can be passionate about the sublime.  “Commit to no labor…” that phrase sits like a lump of mashed potatoes in my esophagus. 

Passion without an outlet?  What in the hell is that?  How do you respond to a call when the wires have been cut? (an aside…I can’t believe I just used an analogy of a wired phone line…LOL!)  How do you trust this so called “process” and believe that your energy, spirit, passion will be tapped and used for good in this world?  Be ignited or be gone…commit to no labor…I don’t think so. 

On the afternoon eve of my 32nd birthday, I struggle with not being able to commit to an outlet to which/whom I belong—at least one with integrity.  I identify my fire…it may be burning embers, but it still has energy potential.  I’m stuck though, ignited or be gone…more work to do…Happy 32!   real.truth.experience.joy