Friday, June 11, 2010

Days 29 and 30: Coming full circle

Phew.  What an amazing couple of days it has been.  And by amazing, of course, I mean alternately maddening, interesting, exhausting, touching and (finally) calm.  Fun! Who doesn't want all of that in two days?!

After surviving yesterday, I looked at yesterday's destiny card this morning (didn't think to look yesterday!), and chuckled.  How fitting (and I"ll explain more in a minute):

The Seven of Hearts indicates that whatever time this card appears could be marked by many challenges in love and feelings in your close relationships. The Seven of Hearts can manifest as betrayal by those we love. In any case, we will be tested to see just how attached we are to others being a certain way.
    Seven, being a highly spiritual number, promises success in love if you try a new approach and adopt a more selfless or unattached attitude. If we can allow others to be who they are and not place so many demands upon them, we not only become more aware of their true personalities, but also we allow ourselves the freedom to be just who we are and experience just how it feels to be free of fear and attachment. Many high spiritual experiences have occurred while a seven was present.

And then I looked at today's destiny card and thought, "Oh no, no more, please."

The Seven of Diamonds is one of the spiritual money cards. When it appears we are always confronted with how attached we are to our money and given an opportunity to experience the real prosperity that comes with an attitude of gratitude.
    Whether it is about money, plans to make money, or love, situations will present themselves that test our faith in the abundance of the universe. By realizing and then releasing our fears, we can transform our attachment into total fearlessness and personal freedom.

But, despite receiving some severe tests on both fronts, here I am, a (now) calm and happy surviver.

Yesterday's main obstacle was definitely anger: Anger towards myself (for being "hypocritical" and "not the person I pretend to be") and anger towards others (for unjustly imposing on my time and resources).  I was originally planning to write more about this, but, for the sake of brevity, I have decided not to, tonight.  Suffice to say, the anger was there, and out of proportion.  But it did bring to my attention some places in which I have both (a) not been brutally honest with myself about my own motivations and (b) not set clear boundaries between myself and others and then cried about being "taken advantage" of. 

So, frankly, it was a blessing to have this stuff come up, because I don't like to think of myself as a flawed or angry being, but there it is--I'm human.  And on Wednesday night, I had been just a little smug and high on my spiritual perspective, so a reality check was indeed in order. 

I did have some beautiful experiences on Thursday, however, despite (or even because) of everything.  Alot of the joy was related to Shambhala (my meditation center and lineage) in some way.  I sat and chatted with fellow Shambhalian Cece about life, and about astrology, in the afternoon.  It was wonderful to support each other, to get to know each other (we've never really hung out) and to "geek out" about astrology.  (Speaking of wonderful, check out Cece's blog about spiritual and intuitive matters.)  And, then, in the evening, I volunteered at Shambhala to do "protector practice" for a visiting teacher.  Protector practice is basically "guarding" and "uplifting" the space by maintaining a meditative awareness--and thus lifting the vibration of the room (my perspective, and experience, funny as it sounds)--during a teacher's talk.  This helps the teacher to teach, helps the listeners to absorb, allows everyone to feels safe--both energetically and physically, since we do play a security role--and, for me? Well, it just feels good to practice. 

I did have another conversation with another fellow Shambhalian, though, on the way home, which felt pretty one-sided (and long-winded, at about 40 minutes!), so the anger flared up again there--more privately than anything (as I didn't express how I felt to him--there's the rub!).  But, this gave me an opportunity to write out some "voice dialogues"--e.g., writing from the disowned voice of anger/resentment, and reowning it--which was therapeutic.  (If you're curious,  check out more about the "Big Mind" process, which involves voice dialoguing, here.)

Finally I ended the evening by giving Reiki distance healing to my "Reiki swap" partner, which was also healing to me.  Even better, he ended up giving me some Reiki distance healing in response today, at a time when I could really use it.

I'll try to explain today's "Seven of Diamonds" fiasco in a nutshell:

Normally, I teach a Music Together (music and movement) class at the Olenka School of Music on Friday mornings at 11:30.  However, I had a preschool graduation to play at this morning about 20-5 miles away, which started at 10:00.  Usually, these preschool programs last 30-40 minutes, tops.  So, I bumped the Music Together class back 15 minutes, to give myself a little extra driving time and make sure everything proceeded smoothly.

Wrong.  The program lasted an hour (the upper limit of what I thought would happen), I got parked into my spot (which gave me just enough time to call Olenka in a panic and upset her, before the car owner came), and I hit some roadwork on the way down to the music school.  I ended up arriving at 11:53, finding only one Mom/daughter pair waiting--the one who was somewhat standoffish and not inclined to stay.  So, she left.  Another mom showed up a couple minutes later, to find me crying about how badly I had messed everything up.  She was very nice, and reassuring, and said we could make it up later, no problem.  Then, she left. 

So, it took a while,. but with the help of the school's co-director, I managed to confirm a make-up time and call back all the class members (only 5).  Phew.  But I was very anxious about all of that.  Receiving the distance reiki at 12:30 was perfect timing to help clear up all of this stuck emotional residue.

And, again, circling back to the first entry. . . It was nice spending some time with Keith tonight.  We talked about my issues (earlier) and his issues (later over dinner), sandwiching a voice lesson and reiki session (treating his knee, back, etc.) in between.  All of which was very nice.

And we celebrated my 30th day of writing, of course. :-) I must say, I have not been perfect--and particularly in my off-and-on meditation--but the challenge has been well worth it, and very therepeutic.  So, thank you, Keith for suggesting it.  And thank you to myself for taking it on. ;-) And thank you, dear readers, for following along.  Blessings to us all.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 28: Assuming power, giving up control

Phew.  So, what an interesting balancing act I've been leading recently.  Between self and other, between work and pleasure, between the world as it "should be" and the world as it is, between moving forward and letting go. 

I've been blessed with some pretty awesome mystical experiences lately, in so many areas--teaching intuitively, interpreting astrology with increasing quickness and depth, sharing reiki and experiencing intense and sometimes "trippy" energy flow, etc.  All of this stuff is awesome, and beautiful.  I feel so blessed to be going through this phase in my life, to be experiencing this.

And then there are the other moments, when things don't move the way I think they should.  It goes something like this: I sense the energy in a situation so clearly (especially where others are "stuck" or misunderstand) and I try to shift things and/or to communicate what I see.  Thinking that surely if I find the right words and say them with the right emphasis, if I look someone in the eye, if "share my heart"--then things will "open up" and they will shift.

But again and again, I am being shown that I can't do that.  That it is not my place to play God, to force change on myself or others, even with the "best of intentions".  Which sucks.  I want so badly to be the one to do that.  But I can't.  Ouch.

After tonight's Reiki class, Greg and I once again hung out, as we often do.  In talking, it turned out that he is going through similar frustrations with his new job, in which he is trying to (if I understand correctly) help people who are about to have their homes foreclosed on, to refinance.  This process is often difficult for two reasons: 1) he is trying to "help" people who don't necessarily want the help, or see the need for it (very different then doing a Reiki session!) and 2) because it is a commission-based sales job, he doesn't get paid if client doesn't "sign on".  Very disconcerting if you have your own bills to pay! (And Greg's wife, Katie, is going to school full-time right now, so Greg needs to be the breadwinner.)

In addition to the "failed" attunement experience last week--which we all talked about tonight--this job, for Greg, seems to be another example of having clear vision and best intentions, but not being able to help the other to "make good".  It's frustrating, I know, especially in the job situation.

And a part of me was definitely tied up, tonight, in Greg "getting" what I was saying, so I could help him.  Which is pretty damn ironic, considering that I'm advising him to embody a certain state of energy flow, and then let go of the results.  Ha! Beautiful how, as different as we are, we're mirroring each other pretty well right now.  Same desire to be in control, but to also be liked/appreciated, to affect a change but stay true to oneself. 

Jesus was the absolute master of staying "in truth", uncompromisingly, and also having an open healing heart; he embodied total presence and total submission to God.  Amazing.  What a practice.  And how far I have to go.

I had an e-mail intuitive reading done back in January, and the "reader"/channeler wrote this:

"Another message about past that could be holding you back is don't beat yourself up about other people's free will. You are a direct channel from spirit to the earthworld, you always have been, and you've been called upon in many circumstances to share insight that otherwise would be overlooked or not heard by the individual from their angels because they weren't paying close attention.  You share the channeled info but if the individuals free will comes into play, it is something controlled only by their individual experience and cannot come from you.  What's important to know whether this would be a stranger, or even maybe a child or dear friend close to you, remember that in order to appreciate what something IS, sometimes we HAVE to experience what something is not.  We also cannot possibly put a TRUE sense of value on teachings that are shared with us, if we haven't had a chance to witness the opposite of the teaching first hand, so sometimes when you share and it seems ignored, your guides wish for you to understand that it's not that your words were not taken to heart, but more so, embedded in the heart as one experiences that what you shared, is completely of integral intention."

This is an important reminder, reassurance, correction--all of these--for me, right now.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 27: Today's "writing". . .

. . . would not make a whole lot of sense to you guys, so I'm not going to try and copy it here, right now.  I basically just scribbled out about eight pages of "inspired" astrological notes/symbols.  (I'm not even going to get into what that's all about right now.) So, I'm counting that as my writing for today, even though it doesn't translate to this blog very well! I'll try for something more comprehensible and share-worthy tomorrow.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 25/26: Stillness/awareness

"When you are aware of space, you are not really aware of anything, except awareness itself, the inner space of consciousness.  Through you, the universe is becoming aware of itself! Just as space enables all things to exist and just as without silence there could be no sound, you would not exist without the vital formless dimension that is the essence of who you are." (Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth)

Oh Stillness, my friend.
How long has it been?
Since last we sat together,
since last we embraced?

Funny, how we haven't visited in so long.
And yet, somehow, I believe
you've always been there for me.
(Ready.  Waiting.)

Funny, how I suddenly find you
in the times when I need you most:
when all the friends,
when all the lovers,
when all the thoughts,
when all the prayers,
have died away,
have left me alone (and empty).

And then I remember your gift:
the one I had left unopened,
tucked away
(for this particular rainy day? perhaps),
in the back closet of my mind
(behind the glittering distractions,
the cluttered library storehouse).

Only in the pauses do I ever remember the gift.
and, each time, I open it anew--
with sweet, birthday girl anticipation.
So exciting--What will it be time?

Ah yes. . . Sweet, rapturous silence.
The only gift you have ever given me.
(How precious.)
The only words you have ever spoken.
(How poignant.)
Thank you, my constant, closest friend.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 24: Revisiting Wicked (part 4)

So, in some past entries, I have done some brief examination of archetypal themes: how they're expressed in the show Wicked, how they are expressed astrologically, and how those two things might interact.  So, I thought it might be nice to revisit that a bit. 

In summary of what I've explored thus far:

I expressed  how the main character Elphaba represents the Uranian impulse (the urge to break free and do her own thing) and secondarily the Jupiterian impulse (the urge to explore, to have faith and to civilize/grow humanity).  Together, those energies parallel the current Jupiter-Uranus conjunction.  But the other part of the current sky-equation is Jupiter and Uranus, together, opposing Saturn. (Remember, Saturn is authority, fear, cultural rules, "the way we do things".) And this plays out in the musical as well. 

So, I'd like to elaborate, briefly on this Saturn part of the equation.  So, let's rewind a bit from the breakthrough moment in "Defying Gravity", back to the beginning of the Wicked plot.  In the beginning, we find Elphaba encountering a lot of restrictions (Saturn!) on all levels.  For example:

1. Her mom has passed away, and her dad (Saturn) does not accept her--partially because of her green skin tone (Uranus) and partially because strange, inexplicable things happen when she is around (also Uranus).

2. She is bound to take care of her disabled (Saturn) sister, and not given her own freedom (Saturn triumphing over Uranus).


3. She is not accepted by her peers--again, for reasons described in #1. (Here Saturn can represent blockage and restriction as coming from the outside--peers/society not accepting her.)

So, we see this Saturn vs. Uranus theme repeatedly.  But, until later in the story, Elphaba still dreams of being finding a way to fit in (or even to blend in?) to society.  She does, however, wish to be acknowledged for her special gifts.  And particularly she dreams of being acknowledged by the most Saturnian figure--the Wizard of Oz! When sorceress Madame Morrible discover Elphaba's unique gifts, she decides to give her free sorcery lessons--and to introduce her to the Wizard.  Elphaba longs to reconcile her own personal Saturn-Uranus opposition--e.g., the need to be different vs. the urge to fit in--in being sanctioned and acknowledged, even cured, by the Wizard.  Here are the lyrics to "The Wizard and I".  I've bolded some lyrics that especially bring out key themes:

Oh, Miss Elphaba
Many years I have waited
For a gift like yours to appear

Why, I predict the Wizard
Could make you his
Magic grand vizier!

My dear, my dear
I'll write at once to the Wizard
Tell him of you in advance
With a talent like yours, dear
There is a defint-ish chance
If you work as you should
You'll be making good:

Did that really just happen?
Have I actually understood?
This weird quirk I've tried
To suppress or hide
Is a talent that could
Help me meet the Wizard

If I make good
So I'll make good;

When I meet the Wizard,
Once I prove my worth,
And then I meet the Wizard
What I've waited for since,
(Spoken: Since birth!)
And with all his Wizard wisdom,
By my looks, he won't be blinded.
Do you think the Wizard is (Spoken: dumb?)
Or, like Munchkins, so small-minded?
(Spoken: No!) He'll say to me,
"I see who you truly are -
A girl of whom I can rely!"

And that's how we'll begin
The Wizard and I:

Once I'm with the Wizard
My whole life will change
'Cuz once you're with the Wizard
No one thinks you're strange!

No father is not proud of you,
No sister acts ashamed
And all of Oz has to love you
When by the Wizard, you're acclaimed
And this gift or this curse
I have inside
Maybe at last, I'll know why

When we are hand in hand -
The Wizard and I!

And one day, he'll say to me, "Elphaba,
A girl who is so superior,
Shouldn't a girl who's so good inside
Have a matching exterior?
And since folks here to an absurd degree
Seem fixated on your verdigris.
Would it be all right by you
If I de-greenify you?

And though of course,
That's not important to me.

"All right, why not?" I'll reply
Oh, what a pair we'll be
The Wizard and I;
Yes, what a pair we'll be
The Wizard and...

My future is unlimited
And I've just had a vision
Almost like a prophecy
I know - it sounds truly crazy
And true, the vision's hazy
But I swear, someday there'll be
A celebration throughout Oz
That's all to do with me!

And I'll stand there with the Wizard,
Feeling things I've never felt.
And though I'd never show it,
I'll be so happy, I could melt!
And so it will be
For the rest of my life,
And I'll want nothing else
Till I die.

Held in such high esteem.
When people see me, they will scream
For half of Oz's favorite team;
The Wizard
And I!!!!

Notice the tension, the opposition, expressed so poignantly in this song? Elphaba believes that with the Wizard's sanction (Saturn), she can safely be herself (Uranus) and be praised/acknowledged as superior (Jupiter, but also the Sun principle, the "urge to shine").  Really intriguing to see how all this pans out.  I mentioned the Sun briefly because it is another archetype at force here: The urge to shine, live and create vitality, to live one's life purpose creatively and to be acknowledged.  The Neptunian principle is also at play here: the urge to dream (isn't that what she's doing?), to imagine, and experience divine love or absolute experience.  But primarily, it's a Saturn/Uranus reconciliation fantasy.

Side note: I can relate to this kind of fantasy!

Also notice the "Unlimited" theme (very Jupitarian), which repeats, with some important variation in "Defying Gravity".  Here's a brief comparison and contrast:

Both songs contain these words:
My future is unlimited
And I've just had a vision
Almost like a prophecy
I know - it sounds truly crazy
And true, the vision's hazy

But "The Wizard and I ends this way:
But I swear, someday there'll be
A celebration throughout Oz
That's all to do with me!

Whereas "Defying Gravity" ends this way:
But I swear, someday I'll be...
Flying so high! (Defying gravity)
Kiss me goodbye! (Defying gravity)

So, what bridges the gap between these two disparate ways of seeing the world? How does Elphaba get from point A to point B? An interesting question, and one to be explored in the future. . .

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day 23: And another day goes by. . .

There were pluses and minuses to today, definitely.  Not as hyper-energized as yesterday.  And, frankly, kind of disappointed that some enthusiastic things I attempted yesterday--to set up a reiki distance healing exchanges, and to promote this blog--didn't really seem to get a response.  Ah, well.  All in due time I guess.  I can't bull-doze my way through these things.  Also, I seem to have developed a health issue that I've decided to try and treat with vitamins and probiotics--I'll see how that goes.  And then, on top of that, some emotional stuff that surfaced over dinner.  I won't go into my drama here.  Blah, blah, blah.  So, those are the negatives.  Not horrible, and I'll get through them, just a nice puncturing of my bubble, as life always so nicely provides. 

But there were some definite positives as well.  I am super-psyched about the astrology consultation that I'll be giving tomorrow (though maybe just a tad nervous, too).  Today I chatted briefly with the guy that I'll be advising, while setting up the appointment, and definitely got a good vibe.  It should be fun.  Plus he has a very interesting chart--some definite challenges, but strong gifts--that closely resembles two other friends' charts.  It will be fun to relay the info to him, and to compare and contrast with my friends' chart. 

On top of that, I gave a full 55-minute reiki session to my good friend Keith today, and it felt really nice to do that.  We certainly could have gone longer--perhaps 90 minutes?--but it was great to do a full session of some sort (not just a spot-treatment) and to achieve definite results with it.  It's the kind of thing that I need to be doing more of.  And, on that level, I am thinking:

a) I am on the brink of making a serious commitment to do just that.  If I want to get my Reiki Master certification, while training with Greg, I'll need to commit to doing about 75 more sessions by next spring.  When he brought this up during Wednesday's class, I definitely felt some trepidation--but then, this was after the attunement, so I was kind of an emotional mess!--but yesterday I felt a sudden surge of faith and optimism: "Yes! I want to do this!" I'm taking yesterday's sentiment with a grain of salt, as it could just be overenthusisam, but I'm certainly leaning in the direction of commiting myself.  Which means. . .

b) I should really think seriously about getting a reiki/massage treatment table.  As treating people while sitting in a chair, or laying on a couch, does not really seem like the way to go.   Just now, doing a search, I am surprised to find that these tables start at a cheaper rate than I thought! This one is only $135 plus shipping.  (Mind you, shipping would be about $30.) I'm psyched! Probably will seek some feedback from Greg and maybe also Dave (fellow reiki student) and Cellina (massage therapist), but it seems pretty cool.

Yay for developing my reiki and astrology skills!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 22: A prayer and an energetic/spiritual "update"

Yesterday afternoon, during a teaching break, my heart poured out this prayer onto paper:

Oh Lord, I am so in love with you.

I am amazed by how you support me, love me,
correct me, constantly--
even though I constantly miss the mark.

You never give up on me,
even when I continully disown you
through my own arrogance:
thinking I've got it covered,
thinking I know it all,
proclaiming myself to others as someone
worthy of exaltation.

Still, continually, you love me,
without reservation:
a feat that I, in my limited egoic bind,
could never fathom.,

Only through you, my Lord.
Thank you for giving me a taste of heaven.
Thank you for being what I, on my own,
could never be.

Thank you for humbling me,
for showing me that only through YOUR LOVE
can I accomplish great things.
And I will, through you, I know.

It's been an interesting ride since I wrote last, early yesterday afternoon.  My teaching went decently well, and then off I zoomed to Reiki class.  It was a pretty special Reiki class, I think it's fair to say, because it was time for us to receive our last level 2 attunement, the attunement of the second chakra.  By way of brief translation, for those of you who have no idea of what I speak: An attunement is an energetic transmission and raising of vibration, passed from teacher to student.  And the second chakra is one of seven main energy centers in the body, namely, the one that most deals with self-worth, creativity/sexuality and the deep unconscious.

The attunement, I think it is fair to say, did not go incredibly well.  And by that, I mean only that all of us students (myself and two others) had some mental resistance or blockages that did not allow us to go as deeply into the visualization, and into the deep emotional processing, as we might have hoped.  It is a testament to Greg's amazing powers of visualization, and "feeling" where we're at, that he was able to tell this.  No way for us to "cheat", then, I guess.  And I think he was a little frustrated by this fact.  Still, we did receive the attunement, and so we, and Greg, will have to trust that these emotional blockages will bubble up and release themeselves for each of us sometime in the near future.

Interestingly, I did have alot of negative emotional stuff come up and release just after the attunement ended.  I felt like I had "failed" the task that had been given me--that I had not lived up to Greg's expectations, or my expectation of myself as a "model Reiki student"--and began feeling a lot of self-hatred at this fact.  Even began sobbing (not a first for me, mind you).  So, that was pretty intense, and I do wonder if some of that 2nd chakra emotional processing was bubbling up and releasing after all? Hard to say.

I stayed after the class and relaxed with Greg for a while.  He felt a strong urge to smoke a cigar and drink some whiskey--I guess giving attunements is pretty intense stuff, so I can't blame him ;-)--so we sat on the front step and I sipped some whiskey with him.  And we chatted for a bit about our feelings and aspirations, and about our experiences as teachers.  All of which was a helpful way to unwind, I think, after the intense attunement experience.

But when I woke up this morning, I felt gross: Slow, foggy, maybe slightly hung over (if one drink would cause that--I don't know).  Ick.  And then I was running late to Happy Acres, the preschool I go to every Thursday morning to do music and movement with the kids, due to horrendous traffic and my leaving at the last minute.  More yucky and intense feelings emerging. 

But all that lifted over the next couple of hours.  Did what I needed to do, called the school explained the situation, taught the kids, etc. And the rest of the day went beautifully.  I ate lunch with my sister-and-law (nice, b/c we never do that), ran a bunch of errands, taught, and visited the Thursday night meditation at the Baltimore Shambhala Center.  Very nice to do that, b/c, despite being a member and somewhat of a leader there, I've been a little emotionally disconnected this past year, and have rarely gone to sitting. 

It was nice to sit, and it was nice to connect briefly with the Shambhala members--my friends, and this community that is still dear to my heart.  Interestingly, my other newer interests--reiki and astrology--came into play tonight as well.  On the reiki side, I ended up giving a brief spot-treatment to one of the Shambhala teachers who was suffering from sore shoulders, then ended up chatting about reiki with another Shambhala friend.  On the astrology side, about 10 minutes after I left Shambhala, I got a call from a Shambhala member (whom I hadn't seen tonight), wanting to give a astrology consultation as a gift to her son.  I was just humming over this--it will be my first true paid consultation (not gifted or bartered). 

So happy. :-) But also mystified how I really can't pin anything down by my passing moods.  Because my mind really wants to grab hold and interpret everything that happens in my life by how it "feels".  I would have never predicted after last night, and this morning, that the rest of my day would pan out so nicely.  But I am still learning, and will perhaps learn to expect the unexpected, huh? Which is a wonderful idea, because it leaves room for my heart to be touched, and for grace and love to enter.  Like today. :-)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 21: Checking in (and yes, more trees)

So, it's 2:04 in the afternoon right now, and I'm quite proud of myself for writing about 10 hours earlier than usual. :-) I will admit, straight off, that I did not sit in my meditation room first thing this morning--and I did get on the computer for a bit!--but I felt mostly okay with this, knowing I was about to go for my walk and meditation in the woods. 

And so, I did, arriving at about 10:25, and staying for almost an hour.  (I had a lesson scheduled at my house for noon, and I wanted to be back in time to take a quick shower beforehand.)

First of all, I must say: Despite taking the same trail, it feel different today, emotionally.  Much less excitable, humming, ecstatic--tossing myself into the experience of feeling trees headlong.  Almost giddy--that's what it was like just two days ago, on Monday.  No, today was much calmer, less hyped-up, more matter-of-fact.  Just being there and not making a big deal of it.  But equally beneficial, and equally spiritual, in a way.
On a physical level, too, it felt like a different experience today, with a cooler breeze and more dampness, especially in the ground.

  I ambled with the headphones on a bit, listening to my "This Week in Astrology" podcast that I had downloaded onto my phone.  (I listen to it every week.) But probably for only about 5 minutes, before I decided to take off the headphones.  I found the same tree that Greg and I so meticulously measured two days ago, and it felt calmer, just old, and I wondered if something was wrong with my "sensing" today--if I had lost it?--because I didn't feel it's energy so dramatically as before.  But, no--when I focused on it, I was still able to connect to its energy, and to gradually feel each layer as I progressively backed up over a hundred feet.  So, it was there, just more subtle. 

I continued to amble down the path, wondering if I would ever find a spot to sit and meditate.  And I did find a nice thick log, eventually.  Then I sat down, settled in.  First drawing a diagram of an interesting astrological configuration that's going on right now.  (I'd love to describe it, especially as it is so relevant to my life right now, but that is a tangent from this story.  So, not now.)  Then waiting, feeling the inspiration of another poem:

Right here is enough.
Can you feel the taste of peace?
It simmers quietly:
no magnificent bubbling over,
no dramatic crescendo,
no force, no fireworks.

Just this: quiet, still.

Can you stay here and rest?
Can you softly absorb
that which is already waiting
in your consciousness,
ready to be unlocked?
And just be.

Yes, I know you were afraid,
when the fire died,
that you had lost your chance at redemption,
that all of release was gone.

But consider:
Why release?
When you can simply rest quietly
in that which already is.

No, don't speak.
You are enough.
Be still.


When I finished the poem, I sat for a while--simple, easy meditation.  And then I heard a sound, some music in the distance.  It sounded like an ice cream truck jingle, but perhaps it was church bell chimes--just drifting effortlessly, joyfully on the air.  I recognized the melody from my childhood:

"He walks with me,
and he talks with me,
and he tells me I am his own.
And the joy we share,
as we tarry there,
none other has ever known."

I wrote down the words, then I sat for a bit more, then I walked back to my car.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 20: Meditation, Reiki and Trees

So, I'll start with an admission: Throughout this challenge, though I've been relatively good with keeping up with my writing, I've been quite lax with my meditation.  Sure, I've been doing alot of reiki work and visualizations, but have I been doing my regular 10 minutes of sitting daily? Not always.  So, first of all, let me renew my commitment to 10 minutes of morning meditation a day, at least for these last 10 days.  I did meditate today, although, I admit, it was this evening, and not in the morning.  To make this challenge a little stricter on myself, I commit to not sitting down at the computer unless I have done my 10 minutes of sitting. 

I'll report back how the sitting goes. . . And now, moving on. . .

To trees.  Yesterday (Memorial Day) was my friend and reiki teacher Greg's birthday, and to celebrate, we decided to do a little reiki-style tree hugging.  I already had a suspicion that I would enjoy our "outing" based on some tree/plant energy-sensing that we had done in Greg's backyard a few months ago during reiki class.  I loved the feeling of the large trees, standing underneath them and feeling their soothing and grounding energy pour down over me.  I felt, then, like I could stand--or, even better, lie--in that energy and absorb it indefinitely.

And indeed, yesterday's excursion was equally enjoyable, if not more so.  We did have a little bit of a semi-scientific bent to our exploration yesterday, namely, to compare and contrast the energy of different trees, and to measure the size of the aura layers.  We started out in Greg's backyard, and experimented with a relatively large oak tree that had an aura of about 30 feet.  Pretty impressive, considering the average human aura extends two, maybe three, feet!

We quickly decided that we would have a more beneficial and enjoyable tree-sensing experience if we went into more of a park/woods trail-type setting.  And so we did.  We chose a biking/walking trail just outside of the Patapso State Park, across from the I-95/95 park-and-ride.  As you can imagine, on a warm Memorial Day, alot of bikers chose the same trail, so we ended up moving to the side every couple of minutes.

Around dodging bikers, though, we did manage to do alot of tree sensing, which was a wonderful experience--especially doing it with Greg.  Greg commented that he was happy to have someone equally "kooky" as him to explore this stuff, and I whole-heartedly agree.  (As natural as the tree sensing felt at the time, it does feel weird and "kooky" to relay this in a blog now, I must admit.  But, no matter.)

We were surrounded by so many huge trees, soaring a hundred feet or more.  We chose one rather impressive one--a poplar, I think, although it was hard to verify with the leaves soaring way above our heads and out of view--that had an aura of over a hundred feet!! The aura of a living being, whether human or tree, has many layers, and we able to distinctly measure seven layers, just as a human aura would have.  It truly was an incredible experience to stand in each of those seven different layers and to feel immersed in the distinctive energy of each.  I had an equally incredible experience, later, while resting my back against one of the trees, allowing it to support me physically, I felt, emotionally

In feeling such a powerful connection, I was reminded of my astrological constitution, which is heavy in Taurean energy.  Taurus is the energy of "fixed earth"--natural, steady, grounded, unmovable.  It is often recommended for those heavy in this energy, or even with just a Taurus sun sign, to spend a good amount of high quality time in nature.  Sadly, I rarely do so.  I don't really carve any regular time out of my schedule to spend in nature.  I am encouraged in this matter by the fact that I will be spending a month-long retreat rural Vermont this summer.  I think that will be quite beneficial.

But in the meantime, I would like to set aside more time with nature.  Starting tomorrow.  Tomorrow morning I plan to plan to spend an hour in the woods, or in a park, connecting once again with the trees and also doing my morning meditation there.   And then, I intend to make a once-weekly trip into nature until such time as I leave for Vermont (on July 13th). I think this will be a good start.  :-)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 19: The Wheel (of Bliss--Illusion) and Its Stopping

What is this subtlest form of deception?
What is this promise that my bliss in this moment,
that my fullness in this moment,
is a guarantee of eternal salvation?

What is this longing for a wholeness
that only the "other" can provide?
The other with his firm grip,
his sweet words, his knowing demeanor,
his emotional intertwinement?

And where exactly is this perfect other,
the one that I "find" in every brief connection,
the one that I try to seduce with my "profound words",
with my "heartfelt yearning"?
And why is it that he keeps shape-shifting?
Now the understanding and invested husband,
now the attention-rapt student,
now the perfect spiritual community,
now the book that will "change my life".

How pervasive, how mysterious, is this dreaming of mine.
I dream that perfection, that endless bliss,
is in my grasp--or is out there somewhere.
What a baffling thing to believe, when only my whole life--
a series of sweet chases, of cotton candy promises--
has proven me wrong.
Yet still I chase and still I believe--
because, of course, this time will be different.
And still I find myself, and still I betray myself,
and still I praise my limited sight as vision.
And thus turns the wheel of samsara.

And so now, this begs the question:
how do I hop off the wheel?
Do I jump aside in the moment that I begin chasing a fantasy?
Do I strive to cut down every illusion mercilessly?
I can try.
Do I argue with my insanity, try to beat myself sane?
Do I create the "perfect state" internally:
a state that I can rest in, a state complete in itself?
(If only it could sustain!)

No.  I can only stop a moment, and ask (honestly):
Can I love the one who is on the wheel?
Can I have some tenderness?
Can I let her spin and spin,
until she tires and willingly returns home?
And can I hold her in my own arms, in her own arms,
knowing that she has never left?

Ah yes.  Perhaps this is a beginning. 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 18: Defying Gravity, part 3 (finally!)--the current astrological scene

So, picking up on the a thread from early last week, let me explain a little bit more about the astrology that mirrors the themes in Wicked.  Last time I was explaining the roles of Saturn (authority/responsibility), Uranus (individuation/sudden revelation), and Jupiter (faith/progress/expansion).  Tonight, I'll delve a little further into what's been happening in the sky related to all of this.

First of all, I'll start with the Uranus + Jupiter conjunction, which is progressively becoming tighter as we speak (right now, about one degree from exact).  So, basically, a conjunction happens when two planets meet up at the exact same point (same sign, same degree) in the sky.  During a conjunction, the planets involved "gang up" and pool together their energies.  So, since Uranus and Jupiter are currently conjunct (or just about--it's exact on June 8th), we are currently experiencing a combination of these energies.  So, this could mean, amongst other things, an expansion of the energy of individuation, a sudden burst of faith, new philosophical/social revelations about energy (I forgot to mention that Uranus rules electricity!), etc.  Here's what astrologer/historian Richard Tarnas, author of the incredible book Cosmos and Psyche, had to say:

"In world transits, the cyclical alignments of Jupiter and Uranus correlate consistently with condensed waves of celebrated milestones of creative or emancipatory activity across many fields.  The conjunction of the two planets occurs approximately every fourteen years.  During each of these. . . decisive crests of remarkably synchronous breakthroughs and innovations appeared to take place within a brief period of time in many areas of human activity."

Alrighty.  So, there's a stage setter, for starters.  But, in addition to this, we have both Jupiter and Uranus currently opposing Saturn (e.g., "the establishment").  An opposition is a 180 degree angle between two planets which are "facing off", in this case Jupiter-Saturn (which have a 20 year cycle) and Uranus-Saturn (which have a 45 year cycle.)  Both cycles represent societal--as well as individual trends/shifts.  The Berlin wall, for example, fell in November of 1989, during the last Saturn-Jupiter opposition.  Saturn and Uranus have actually been opposing off-and-on for about a year and a half now, with the first exact opposition happening on election day, 2008.  (Hmm. . . I wonder why Barack Obama's election might be considered historic or revolutionary?) On the level of U.S. society/government, another example of the Saturn-Uranus opposition would be the passing of health care reform legislation this past March.  (By way of comparison, Medicare was passed in the summer of 1965, e.g., during the previous Saturn-Uranus opposition.)

So, there are some interesting astrological tidbits regarding astrology and society currently.  I'll relate it to a more personal level, and to then back to Wicked, in future posts. :-)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 16/17: Wow

Alright, so before I get into anything else, let me face the facts: I didn't blog yesterday.  Therefore I suck.


Okay, obviously, I'm joking.  And I forgive myself.  When I got home at 1 AM last night--fresh and high from a swing singing (+ dancing!) gig--I knew I needed to get by 8:30 AM, and consciously decided not to stay up ultra-late (again) blogging/writing.  Not to make excuses or anything, 'cause I am going to try to do better for these remaining days. 

So, there's that.  Now, as a small half-penance, I did spend a little time this morning--really only a little, maybe 10 minutes?--toying around with a potential new song idea on piano/vocal.  I haven't been doing any music writing in a while, so this is a good start, albeit small.  And this was right before I rushed out the door for my gargantuan Midway Fair recording session.

Why do I say gargantuan? Well, the first, and main, reason, is that it was nine and a half hours long.  No, really!  Okay, sort of.  (I got there 10 minutes late, and left the studio for about 50 minutes, so it was maybe eight and half hours long for me.) So, even though we reserved the whole day, for as long as we needed it, I don't think any of us really expected nine and a half hours.

So, there's that.

And then, secondly, it was gargantuan because there's been a lot of off-and-on tension in the band over the past couple months.  I did a recording session with Jon (the Midway Fair leader) two months ago that ended up with me crying hysterically, and him sending me a two page e-mail a couple days later.  Yeah, so, um. . . I guess you could call that creative differences? (I will say, very briefly and with self-responsibility, that I was being pretty high-maintenance that day.  Not so relaxed, and hence, not so cooperative.)

And so, the last reason today was gargantuan? Bliss.  Pure and simple.  Despite factors one and two, everything went well!!!!! :-) Wow, am I relieved about that.

I think part of what made today go so well for me, frankly, was Tim, the drummer.  We had a bonding discussion a couple weeks ago and really got to know each other better (much-needed therapy for both of us, I think).  So, today we were supporting each other with hugs and reiki, which was wonderful.  I've never recorded before on a "reiki high" but now that I've done it, I can say, it's the way to go! (Especially for someone like me, who has a lot of nervous mental energy just wanting to rush in and clog up the pipes of music and intuition.)  Another thing which was inspiring about Tim was watching him power through the songs.  He would really nail things on the first take, and then, if corrections were needed, he would toss himself in and power through those, too.  No hesitation.  Again, in marked contrast to my own high-strung, "I'm-super-critical-and-need-lots-of-reassurance (and just as many takes)" ways.

So, Tim, if you're reading, thanks for being awesome.  (I could give lots of props to Tim's wonderful wife Cellina, as well--who is my friend and masseuse, as well as fellow reiki practitioner--but I will sing further praises another time.  Love you, Cellina!)

But I also need to give props to Jon and to myself for working together amiably--for being two sensitive and stubborn people, we both went the extra mile to respect each other!--and to Chris Freeland for being an awesome engineer, "Mr. Cool-calm-and-collected" and a great extra set of ears.

We accomplished alot today and I am SO proud of these tracks that we are creating together from Jon's wonderful songs.  And today was also so affirming of everything that is happening in the life, of my friends, my reiki, my music, my faith.  And I say my, knowing that none of this stuff belongs to me.  And, ah, what a blessing!!

I'll be playing with Jon and Tim tomorrow at Ukazoo Books in Towson, from 4-6 pm.  So, we're not done seeing each other yet! Come see us tomorrow, or sometime, too, if you're local. And check out


P.S. If you're not really into hyper-ecstatic writing, I apologize.  I will do my best to settle down at some point in the near future. ;-)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 15: A full moon, and yesterday's thoughts continued

Tonight (at 7:07 PM) marked the once-a-month event of the full moon.  This month's full moon is in the sign of Sagittarius.   Each full moon is a time of "taking stock" in some area of our lives.  It is a time of evaluating our habits and determining if they are serving us--then if, not, being willing to release stuck patterns and to adjust.  Since the full moon is in the sign of Sagittarius, we would especially be evaluating Sagittariun themes at this this full moon, including: faith/religion, philosophy, high education and travel.

In addition, each of the degrees of the Zodiac (all 360!) have a special special meaning assigned to them, called a Sabian Symbol.  The Sabian Symbol for 7 degrees Sagittarius is: "Cupid knocks at the door of a human heart."  I love astrologer Benjamin Bernstein's elaboration on this: "At this extraordinary time in history, however, Cupid is offering not just human love, but the indescribable bliss only available from the unconditional love of the divine.  Can you open to it?"

In honor of this theme, here is my continuation of yesterday's poem-meditation.  (The tone doesn't quite match up, in my opinion, between yesterday's portion and today's portion, but I decided I'm okay with that for the time being.)

Oh, my friend, do you know what you possess?
Such power, such beauty, such gifts beyond measure.
To imagine yourself as a tiny, limited being--
what a disgrace to Truth! What an insult to God!

No, you are more, so much more, than you imagine.
You are infinite light as expressed in one luminescent thread.
You are a river of being as grounded into a single body.
You are joy in its purest revelation, exalting in each moment,
ever eternal, ever born anew.
This you are, and so much more.

This busy life of yours is a series of forgettings.
So, first and foremost, remember to pause.
Remember to step out of that cluttered mind, now and again,
and create space for truth to dawn upon you.

Do not believe that your life is confined
to the lists you create in your head,
to the distractions that capture your eyes and mind.
No, this is surface.  Life is much deeper than this.
Life is the unfolding of that which you are in every moment,
the yearning heart ever reaching towards the infinite soul.

You will always reach.  You will always sense that painful gap
between that which is form and that which is eternal.
So, why not surrender, relax, into the reaching?
And in this relaxation, perhaps, you might glimpse
the resting of the eternal in the very form of your heart.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 14: Another post-Reiki extemporaneous diversion

Oh, my friend, do you know what you possess?
Such power, such beauty, such gifts beyond measure.
To imagine yourself as a tiny, limited being--
what a disgrace to Truth! What an insult to God!

No, you are more, so much more, than you imagine.
You are infinite light as expressed in one luminescent thread.
You are a river of being as grounded into a single body.
You are joy in its purest revelation, exalting in each moment,
ever eternal, ever born anew.
This you are, and so much more.

**I feel like this poem-meditation has more to it than 2 stanzas, but after several "false" continuations, I'm choosing to leave it be, for now. . .**

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 13: A digression. . .

It is late, again, and frankly, I do not wish to continue my previous "Wicked" contemplation at this hour.  I'll try again tomorrow.  In the meantime, another extemporaneous contemplative poem:


I feel something brewing,
an energy, unexplainable.
It seems too dark, too tense,
to penetrate, and yet
I know that coiled within
is a source of unfathomable power.

Do I fear this power?
Do I believe myself to be
stained and dirty? Corrupt?
Do I shrink away,
and fail to see the beauty
that is trapped within?

In all this pondering
of dark and light,
it seems that I have split
myself in two.
In believing I am a monster,
I have forgotten
that I am a child of God.

So, now, I welcome the dark,
because I fear it not,
and in welcoming, I open,
and all is subsumed in light.
All is now right
(as it already was).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 12: Defying Gravity, part 2

So, it's late at night, and I've procrastinated on my writing assignment again--by going out swing dancing!--but I'm back to honor the commitment before heading off to bed. 

So, to briefly elaborate on the "Defying Gravity" theme from yesterday, I want to bring in some discussion of astrological themes (again, being the "astrogeek" that I am ;-)).  To do this, I'll be briefly discussing the archetypal significance of three planets: Saturn, Uranus, and Jupiter.

  • Saturn represents responsibility, the establishment, the wise elder, "the way we do things", conservatism, fitting in
  • Uranus represents the maverick, the individualist, the brilliant thinker, the mad scientist
  • Jupiter represents faith, expansion, teaching, social advancement, progress, and doing things in a big way
So, here's my basic premise: The character Elphaba is a very Uranian character, a maverick with (initially) uncontrollable powers.  But she's initially held back by a mis-placed faith (Jupiter) in the establishment (Saturn), especially as personified by the Wizard. 

The reason why this fascinates me is that that these same themes are currently being played out in my life, in yours, and in society at large.  Why? Because, right now, astrologically, we are experiencing oppositions in the sky between Saturn, on one hand, and Uranus + Jupiter, on the other. 

I'll unravel more of this (part 3!) tomorrow. . .

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 11: Defying Gravity

So, the song "Defying Gravity", from the musical "Wicked", has been running through my head incessantly over the last few days.  Originally I thought that this was probably, simply, because I have been singing the song weekly with my one of my 9-year old voice students.  She sings the (main) part of Elphaba, and I chime in with Glinda's part whenever necessary, and coach her ("Don't belt it like the original singer; be careful and use your high voice!") whenever I'm not singing.

But it also occurred to me, as the sung began ringing in my head right around my birthday, that perhaps it's also a message that I am trying to learn and integrate as my new solar year begins.  And perhaps it is also a lesson that society is trying to learn and to integrate.  More about that in a bit.  But first, here are the lyrics, specifically those from Idina Menzel's "pop" solo release (slightly adapted from the orginal):


"Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with
playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I'm defying gravity
And you won't bring me down

I'm through accepting limits
'Cuz someone says they're so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I'll never know!
Too long I've been afraid of
Losing love I guess I've lost
Well, if that's love
It comes at much too high a cost!

I'd sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I'm defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
And you won't bring me down

Unlimited (Unlimited)
My future is unlimited (unlimited)
And I've just had a vision
Almost like a prophecy
I know - it sounds truly crazy
And true, the vision's hazy
But I swear, someday I'll be...

Flying so high! (Defying gravity)
Kiss me goodbye! (Defying gravity)

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
"Everyone deserves the
chance to fly!"

I'm defying gravity!
And you won't bring me down!
Bring me down!
Bring me down!"

It's kind of funny to read the lyrics, stripped away from their musical power (especially the power that Idina Menzel gives!), but there they are.  And as far as the personal and universal theme goes, I definitely think it came be taken as a song of defiance.  You know--"Authority is corrupt; society is biased.  Screw them--I'm gonna do my own thing!" But it can also be thought of as the willingness to individuate, to take a risk, to be willing to be authentic, no matter what people might think.  (This blog is a small example of that, for me.) I love this line, because I can so relate to it: "Too long I've been afraid of losing love I guess I've lost.  Well, if that's love, it comes at much to high a cost!" Amen.  Beautiful words for anyone who likes to reshape themselves to please or appease others (like, oftentimes, me).  It leads one to question, is this compromise of myself really worth it?

I'll continue on this theme tomorrow, so tune in then!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 10: Reflections from after the storm

And then there are the moments
when I am certain I am possessed,
so fiercely do these crazy thoughts
charge through my head, and possess my being.
And these demons, they are merciless,
running ramshackle through every organ,
every chakra, slashing every pretense of peace
they can find, screaming bloody murder,
insisting that darkness, and darkness,
and only more darkness, is the way.

And it's true, it's sad, that in the
midst of all their screaming,
I have no room to remember my true nature,
my true name, and I believe their cries of darkness.
There's no room, in these moments, to remember
that these are only thoughts
(not evil, but unhealed),
and that they will pass,
they will not consume me,
I need not fear.

And then it blows over.
And I am thankful for time.
And I am thankful for God.
And I am thankful for friends.
And I am thankful for meditation.
Oh, how essential, these things that hold me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 9: Vocal-reiki healing?

So continuing on from yesterday's post:  After my birthday lunch with “Erin”** and Kathy, I headed over to Erin's house to give her a vocal lesson.  (Erin is one of the few students that I teach in-home, mostly because she is my longest-running student, starting with me back in the summer of 2002!)

Erin was experiencing a lot of fatigue, both physical and vocal, with the physical symptoms including a lack of awareness of her lower body (especially in the lower abdominal area) and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.  As a vocal teacher, I have always had an intuitive ability to tap into what my students are producing and feeling vocally (although the extent to which I use this ability, frankly, varies, depending on the amount of my own "presence").  In other words, if I close my eyes, I can "see" and "feel" the sound that my students are producing in my own body.  Then, I can use this information to help them make vocal adjustments in how they are producing, visualizing and "placing" their own sound.

In addition, I will occasionally get some intuitive information about which exercise to do with the student next, which modifications/explanations might be helpful, how they could breath more effectively, etc.

Today, this ability seemed majorly augmented and expanded--almost as though I was "downloading", or channeling, intuitive information to a much higher degree.  The stream of commentary about what to visualize, how to adjust sound/breath, etc. was just flowing right through me.  And then, at one point, near the end of the first exercise, I had Erin switch to the vowel "oh" and I intuitively told her to drop the sound down to her lower belly (which seemed, at the time, like an odd instruction to my rational mind). 

Not only did her sound "open up", become more full and resonant, but emotionally, this seemed to “wake up” something inside of her. She realized that she had been “numbing out” this part of her body, in which often felt discomfort during her period. Physically and emotionally, Erin had other reasons to numb the discomfort she felt in this area. As an incredibly feeling and nurturing person, Erin had always wanted to be a mother, a dream which became dashed when, with midlife at her doorstep, her husband informed her that he did not wish to have children. Most recently, last September, Erin needed to have surgery to remove over a pound(!) worth of tumorous growth from the same area.

But the this area—which is, in energetic language, home of the second chakra—is not only the womb of the fetus, it is also the womb of self-acceptance and creativity! Recognizing this immediately, I asked Erin if she realized that, by numbing her awareness here, she was also shutting down her creativity. She agreed, stating that it was during this “time of month” that, in addition to numbing out to her body, she often felt unmotivated musically and questioned her choice of career. Wow.

We continued on with our exercises. My eyes closed, I began “seeing” and feeling (a correspondence in my own body) energy rising up from the stomach, through the torso and shoulders and down the arms. Almost immediately after, Erin spontaneously commented that her neck and shoulder pain had disappeared.

Wow again. I was stopped in my tracks by this. I consider myself intuitive, but this was beyond normal, and I wondered aloud where this the source of this energy and information was coming from. Erin, a devout Christian (and therefore generally, and understably, suspicious of my “New Age” ideas), offered: “Jen, it must have something to do with the reiki. When you engage in a spiritual practice that deeply, it's bound to have an effect.”

And, after my incredible experience of the distance healing visualization the previous night, I could see the direct effect and correspondence. Not only had I been powerfully personally affected, but I had been marveling at my teacher/friend Greg's ability to guide us, improvisationally, through such a profound visulization experience! He commented that his gift was dependent on us being there, because he was psychically (not his word) sensing where we were at, how each of us was responding to the visualization, in order to know how deeply to go into each part of the process, where to go next, how to segue. (I know he was also “feeling/seeing” this because he was the only one of us to utter a word.) Amazing.

So, it occurred to me, that perhaps my ability to work with people's voices is a similar intuitive ability, and one that I can deepen through my own meditation and energy work. I will be interested to see if I can continue this kind of vocal “healing” in the future, as it would be a beautiful bridge between my vocal teaching and my energy work. I would love to be able to expand in this direction professionally—what a unique and blessed calling that would be. But that remains to be seen. At any rate, to have the experience even once was quite a blessing.

**A pseudonym is being used to protect the privacy of my close friend/student.**

Day 8: My official birthday (written late at night)

I had a beautiful day, with a large blissful "bleed-over" effect from my reiki experience last night.  Being treated to lunch at Macaroni Grill, by two close friends, and to dinner at Great Sage, with Alex's family, was a wonderful treat.

I had one particularly interesting experience today that I want to write about.  But, about 20 minutes into the entry, I've decided I need to go to bed.  So, I'll finish up that writing and post tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 7: Bliss

So, very briefly today,  b/c it's past 12:30 AM and I should be in bed!

The solar return interpretation was cool, and a nice confirmation.  But honestly? It didn't give me a lot of new info.  Kind of validating in that I know more than I give myself credit for--I had basically already given myself a reading just in glancing at it the other day! Why did I discount myself, and pay someone else to do it? I don't know.  Ah, well.

But the reiki class? Learning, experiencing, the distance symbol? That was awesome.  Incredible.  I'm still buzzing with this tingling of connecting with all that is.  (I know that this sounds kooky, but oh well.) Really so beautiful and so confirming, this knowing feeling of bliss, of heart opening, of wanting so deeply to inhabit this connective space in every moment.

It's weird, because these days, I step in and out of that space.  Sometimes I'm rigid Jen, sometimes I'm spaced-out Jen, and sometimes, like this evening, I'm blissed-out connected Jen.  I like the latter the best, by far.  I was definitely feeling much more bored/anxious earlier today, and my reiki class experience was such a nice respite from that.

So, now, a brief, stream-of conscious writing.  I don't know that I would call it poetry; it's just what I'm feeling in this moment:


In the beginning, there was light.
And the light was me,
the light was you,
the light was the space within us,
between us,
and enfolded in the arms of our infinite God.

He holds us still in his arms,
always, infinitely,
with the love of a thousand mothers
all opening their hearts and
gushing out infinite love.
Yes, this much and more
(so much more).

If ever, for a moment, you experience darkness:
You need only open one tiny sliver,
one fraction of this amount,
to be flooded with absolute
love and devotion,
the kind that will melt you,
the kind that will hold you,
the kind that knows no end.

**Love, and Namaste.  (The light in me honors the light in you.)**

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 6--Happy (astrological) birthday to me :-)

So, this Thursday, May 20, at precisely 2:12 AM, I will turn 31.  It feels like much less of a "big deal" than 30 ("Oh no, the end of youth!!").  Basically, I'm just excited to have an excuse to celebrate with family and friends.  I'll be having four celebration meals in three days--a Thursday lunch with two close friends, a Thursday evening dinner with my in-laws, a Friday dinner with a large group of friends, and a Saturday dinner/evening spent with my family--so I feel pretty darn spoiled.

In addition, I've got some other special birthday things going on:
1. Tomorrow morning I'm getting an astrological "solar return" chart done ("What is that?" you ask--I'll come back to it, don't worry ;-));
2. Tomorrow evening I'll be attending a special reiki class (we'll be learning the distance symbol, which will allow us to do spiritual and hands-off healing, even when the client is not present); and
3. Friday afternoon I'll be getting a massage.
Sweet.  This feels like a very special week, for more reasons, even, than just my birthday.

But back to this whole solar return thing.  Since most of you out there (even, perhaps, all of you) are not astrology geeks such as myself, it bears some explanation.  So, let me explain what a natal chart is, very briefly, and then what a solar return chart is (also, hopefully, briefly).

A natal chart is basically a snapshot of you at the moment in which you were born.  It basically shows the blueprint of your personality--your strengths, weaknesses, the way you are emotionally/socially/intellectually, what you "came here" to learn in this lifetime-etc.  Basically, since your natal chart is your personality blueprint, you carry it through your whole life.  It doesn't mean you can't change and learn (you can and should!), it just show the core of who you are throughout your life.  Here's a picture of my natal chart.

(Don't worry about what the symbols mean.  That's a whole other ball of wax, which perhaps I'll get into on another day.)

Now, in contrast to that, let me explain what a solar return chart is.  A solar return chart is basically a chart that is made up for the exact time that the sun in sky returns to its natal position in your chart.  This happens once a year, right around (but not at the exact same time as) your birthday.  For example, the sun in my natal chart is at 28 degrees, 38 minutes of Taurus.  Tomorrow, May 19th, at 1:52 pm, the sun in the sky--we astrogeeks call this the transiting sun--will return to this exact position.  Happy astrological birthday to me!

Here's a picture of my solar return chart:

As you can see, even just at a glance, it doesn't look a bit like my natal chart.  In contrast to the natal chart, the solar return chart is basically a picture of what you can expect in the year ahead.  I am just learning to interpret solar return charts--I gave it a crack a few weeks ago, for a friend--but I'm far from being an expert.  That's why I'm glad to be getting an interpretation done for me, tomorrow morning, just hours before my actual solar return!

Yesterday, I printed out my solar return chart for my last birthday--just out of curiosity.  (I now have a nifty astrological program that does this.  Last year at this time, I didn't even know what a solar return was!) Here's the chart for last year (May 19, 2009 to May 19, 2010):

It was really wacky for me, yesterday, to look at this chart, because there are some pretty strong and challenging energies here, and indeed, I had a pretty challenging year, in many ways.  (But also a very eye-opening year.)  I can see a lot of last year's challenges being displayed in this chart: Financial restrictions, job/career confusion, a real questioning of my approach to life (from a religious and personality frame), a budding interest in astrology and new study of reiki, a severe car accident, a new car, physical therapy, etc., etc. Phew! It is interesting to see this stuff spelled out in the chart, in retrospect.  And perhaps, in a later entry (tomorrow?), I'll describe how that's so. 

But for now, I'll sign out, looking forward to the fresh astrological year that starts for me tomorrow. :-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 5: Eden, Art and Poetry

The most striking exhibit that I saw in the Brooklyn Museum of Art, by far, was "The Dinner Party" by Judy Chicago.  Here's the description from the Brooklyn Museum website:

"The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago is an icon of feminist art, which represents 1,038 women in history—39 women are represented by place settings and another 999 names are inscribed in the Heritage Floor on which the table rests. This monumental work of art is comprised of a triangular table divided by three wings, each 48 feet long." (For more info, and visuals, check out this page.)

Along the entrance hallway to the exhibit, there hangs six tapestry banners, which I personally found very compelling.  Here they are:

The message on the tapestries really resonated with me, as I have been working on a poem with the same theme.  (Incidentally, the tapestries were apparently completed in 1979, the year I was born, which I think is pretty neat.)   Here is a "rough draft" of my poem:

Oh, brother, sister, when did we begin
this forgetting of our true names?
this pretending of race, of rank, of age,
of this and that, of me and you?

When did we begin believing that we were separate,
when once we danced together—
shapeshifters, melding and flowing seamlessly in the light?

When did we stop tasting the love God
(and of ourselves) in every moment,
breathing it as air, drinking it as water?

Oh, my lover-friend, it is sad, this forgetting.
And yet, we pause now, and together,

The Garden is yet among us!
If we have not felt it, seen it, KNOWN it,
It is because we have banished ourselves
into the dark dankness of our own minds.

No matter, my friend, for in this moment,
Eden beacons.
And I inhabit her now, through the joy of my mind,
And I sense you, too, now , in the space of my heart.
And I feel your hand now as it once more clasps mine.
And with our feets, our hearts, our voices,
we rejoice together, once again, in the light.

I bought a copy of The Dinner Party banner postcards (as I scanned above) and am seriously considering creating a home "installation" involving these 6 postcards and my own Eden poem--most likely on my blank dining room wall.  The cards have a a lot of red and gold that would match my downstairs colors perfectly!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Days 3 + 4: To New York and Back

So, first of all, let me apologize for not blogging--and therefore, on the apparent level, not following my commitment(!)--yesterday.  Yesterday morning I left on a bus at 9 AM for New York City, and despite lugging the laptop along with me (Alex carried it all over NYC in his backpack, bless him!), I didn't really have an opportune time to sit down and use it until the 1:30 AM that night. . . I did actually try to log into the website repeatedly with my smartphone on the bus, and that didn't really work out.  Ah, well.

Anyways, I DID actually still honor my meditation and writing commitment yesterday, though, by engaging in both during the bus trip.  So, let me start out my typing up the poem that I wrote on the bus yesterday, despite my small reservation at the fact that it could use some heavy editing/fleshing out, etc.  No matter, honoring the writing commitment is the important thing, not perfection (right?), so here goes:

New York (Inside and Out)

As I see the skyscrapers
looming up ahead of me,
I feel my breath catch, and
my teenage self revive.

At 17, I could feel the pulse
of each bright light as it
zoomed through my big-eyed,
small-town veins,
shot after shot of pure adrenaline.

At 20, then, it made perfect sense
to drop my small school and small life
and to move to the Big Apple--
to pursue freedom and good fortune
in a big way.

I lasted 3 weeks.
Then came crawling back to the
safety of the little school,
the familiar faces,
the controlled routine.

Oh New York,
despite our sordid history,
I love you still.
I love your mischief, your glamour,
your hundred ways to cook,
your thousand ways to entertain.

I love you because
my ever-restless mind
does need a place to flit to,
to dance with,
to play in--
every now and again--
before returning to the snug security
of home.

**Admission: I did allow myself a little "fly-by" editing as I typed up the poem.  So, it's not in the exact format that I wrote up yesterday, despite my above intention.  Ah, well.  I forgive myself. ;-)**

So, moving past the poem, the NYC experience was also nice.  What made it especially enjoyable was the beautiful mid-70s weather, especially in contrast to the last two chilly December visits I made (2009, and before that, 2006).  I can't remember the last spring visit I made to NYC, so that was great.

Also, I was a little nervous about being "chained" to another couple for the weekend, but I needn't have worried.  Tiffani and Dave were great, and I think we all managed to have a great time and not get on each others' nerves.  Go us! :-)

Wait, you want to hear about what we actually did? Figures. ;-P

Here goes. . .

The ride up was a bit lengthy, so we didn't arrive in central Manhattan (around Penn Station) until about 1:15.  Upon arrival, we made a beeline for Greenwich Village--mostly b/c Alex and I both adore the village!--and ate at a unique, but very small, vegetarian spot called "The Hummus Place".  Then we went shopping, picking up some clothes/jewelry from a Tibetan shop, some fancy soap from another shop, and some amazing chocolate--mine was dark chocolate with almonds + cherries--from a specialty shop called Pure Dark.  We then picked up some lattes (tea, coffee and yerbamate, depending on the drinker) from a cool coffee shop called Grounded and headed back towards our Marriott Hotel in Brooklyn.

When we arrived at the Marriott, they were not ready for us to check in--despite the fact that it was nearly 5 PM at this point.  So, we checked our backpacks that we had been lugging around--our backs were getting sore!--and once again hit the subway back to Manhattan.

Our next destination was Central Park, where we simply took a leisurely, relatively undirected stroll for about an hour.  Then on to Max Brenner, an amazing dinner spot that specializes in all things chocolate (gifts, entrees, desserts, drinks, you name it), and also just has an amazing presentation to everything they serve.  Alex and I make a point of visiting Max Brenner during every NYC trip now, and we felt compelled to share the experience with Tiffani and Dave.  Needless to say--1) We all love chocolate. (You may have noticed this theme.) Therefore, 2) We all loved our dinner and 3) left with slimmer wallets and expanded waistlines.

Shortly after leaving dinner, while sitting in a nearby park, Tiffani made a rather embarrassing and costly discovery: She had accidentally bought tickets leaving from Baltimore to NYC for the next evening.  So, we had no way back home.  The next 20/25 minutes were spent in a semi-panicked scramble to evaluate our options and secure new tickets (from a different busline, since all the Bolt bus tickets for the next day were sold out.) Pro: We managed it! :-) Con: It cost Tiffani a bit of money to buy 4 new tickets. :-(

After navigating that rather startling situation, we went to a late-night (11 PM) show called "Stuffed and Unstrung"   It's by Henson Alternative productions, and is basically adult-oriented improv using Henson puppets--hilarious! Alex's biggest interest in visiting NYC was to see this show, and I have to say, it was well worth it.  But it was also quite late when we arrived back to the hotel, and after 2 AM when we finally all got to sleep.

Speaking of sleep, it sounds like a good idea.  So, let me describe today's experiences as briefly as possible.  The highlights of today were two-fold:

Firstly, visiting the Brooklyn Museum of Art and viewing some amazing exhibits, especially their feminist collection and stylistic retrospective of American dress styles from the 1850s to modern times.  Fascinating to see, and to read descriptions of, the evolving American dress styles through different cultural eras.

Secondly--we met up with our friend Greg and ate a late lunch (3 pm-ish) at wonderful Ethiopian restaurant (a first for Greg), before heading back towards the Penn Station area to catch our 5 pm bus.  It was wonderful to see and catch with him.  We have a common interest in health food issues, and I may actually end up doing a (weekalong?) juice fast with him! We're going to be following up with each other about that, so I'll let you know more details if it ends up happening.

So, I've rambled on for an hour now, and, though I feel my descriptions could have been more in-depth, personalized and evocative--oh well.  That's quite enough typing for one night! Suffice to say, we crammed a lot into our little trip--and a lot of yummy goodness into our little tummies--without feeling rushed or over-whelmed.  Yay! So, NYC was  a wonderful experience. :-)

More--and back to "normal" life--tomorrow!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day #2 Writing

So, my destiny card for today was the 7 of Spades. Here's the description:"The powerful Seven of Spades will challenge you to rise to higher levels of thinking, speaking and acting. Its challenges will manifest mainly in the areas of work and health, areas where you are likely to be holding some negative patterns that need to be changed. If you are willing to take responsibility for your condition and practice positivity in spite of circumstances, you can realize the powerful spiritual potential of this card and attain new heights. In its highest form, this is the card of FAITH."

Yay, another positive card!--NOT. (Already I hear a voice in my head chastising me, "but all circumstances are positive, Jen, if you know how to use them properly.") I did notice today, however, a tremendous amount of self-doubt surfacing. First it was in relation to my writing commitment. All the while that I was showering and getting ready for work this morning, my head was churning:How do I know that I can pull this commitment off?
What will I write about today? (Not this, not that, well maybe that, but. . .)

What if people don't care enough to read it?
And the biggest one:Why am I exposing myself in this way? If I write the things I really think, really care about, people will think I'm weird. People will reject me. I'm sacrificing my ability to tailor what I say to who I'm talking to.

Phew. It's exhausting to be in my head sometimes. Even when I feel the running commentary is "dumb", even when my "wise meditator self" realizes that the things my head churns out have no correspondence to reality--still, it's hard to give it up.

The voices of doubt continued throughout the day, especially manifesting in the form of approval-seeking: subtly seeking positive regard from the parents in my Music Together class, from the director of the music school, etc. And then, the doubt crept into my decision-making process of how I was allocating my time. Suddenly, I was not accomplishing enough during my 4 hour break from teaching. I had "wasted" my time in talking taking a walk, in indulging in astrology conversation with a friend, in getting groceries, in making a bank deposit.

Ludicrous, I know. But my inner critic is harsh, and it wanted to punish me for not getting things done and getting home more quickly, hence "putting off" my writing. By the time I did get home, I had 20 minutes until it was time to teach, and I was exhausted, beat up by these voices.

So, I did what any self-respecting person would do. I laid down, and took a deep breath. And then I softly gave myself a deep inner hug, in the form of these words:

Spring Within

This childish mind--
this mind that startles
and shakes in the night--
rock it to sleep with prayers and a lullaby.

These waves of emotion—
this dance between faith and doubt--
know that it is only an expression
of your longing for God.

You can't grab the truth and clench it in your fist!

So. . .
Trust and relax.
Open and love.
B r e a t h e . . . .
and feel the blossom of an eternal spring
unfolding within you.

These words have comforted me in many crying and anxious moments over the last three years. I wrote them during my brief stay in Sheppard Pratt (a psychiatric hospital), directly after having a "psychotic break". (The entire story should be told another time, but suffice to say I experience the depth of my fear and the height of inspiration within a very short time. Not a very easy experience to summarize.)

And the words worked their magic today--bringing comfort, soothing my soul, restoring my faith and my balance. I stood up slightly groggy but much calmer, ready to teach, and have continued the rest of my day gladly leaving those voices of doubt in the dust.

(At least, momentarily.)