wrecking ball

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effreide stegemeier circa 1935
“There was once a lady who was arrogant and proud. Determined to attain enlightenment, she asked all the authorities how to go about it. She was told, “Well, if you climb to the top of this very high mountain, you’ll find a cave there. Sitting inside that cave is a wise old woman. She will tell you.” Having endured great hardships, the lady finally found this cave. Sure enough, sitting there was a gentle spiritual-looking old woman in white clothing, who smiled beatifically. Overcome with awe and respect, the lady prostrated at the feet of this woman and said, “I want to attain enlightenment. Show me how.” This wise woman looked at her and asked sweetly, “Are you sure you want to attain enlightenment?” And the woman said, “Of course I’m sure.” Whereupon the smiling woman turned into a demon, stood up brandishing a great big stick, and started chasing her, saying, “Now! Now! Now!” For the rest of her life, that lady could never get away from the demon who was always saying, Now! Now–that’s the key. Mindfulness trains us to be awake and alive, fully curious, about now.” 

painting by kwangho shin
i believe i stand in the beginning of a fairly drastic change in my world. for the last 5 years i have been pushing my plough in a certain direction in order to nurture harvest. amidst this process, i have seen drought and flood, experienced both exhilaration and exhaustion, and even broken a blade once or twice. 
cumulatively though, my general sense has been comprised of success and gratitude. i have made structural changes in this process- in essence moving the fields i chose to cultivate. and i have been blessed with that choice. 
about 2 months ago, infused with inspiration, i suggested that i modify my schedule and increase my workload-accompanied by an increased compensation, so that i may give up my second job and concentrate growing our services into the black. surprisingly, i received a message which took away my wind. i walked away from that conversation feeling some shame and some frustration. i don’t have the education to move forward within my department and would need to spend 4 years cultivating that prior to any advancement for me. to make matters worse the next morning  i found place upon my desk, a book imparting the philosophy of getting things done by having a “yes” attitude. instantly i was drowning in a diminishing pond and dog-paddling seemed both a life sentence and a metaphor.
this is when my life complicated. my judgment has been clouded by the fog of emotions. i felt tricked and patronized. it was almost as if there had been a small earthquake and my foundation has shifted. i am groomed to utilize my insight and my talents, encourage to participate on equal footing, but then challenged to keep in my place until i accomplish more, but work harder and continue to say “yes” until then. i kinda felt like a hooker- and that’s not an unfamiliar feeling- nor is it pleasant (you know- we can have fun with the lights out when nobody else is around, but pretend like we don’t know each other the remainder of the time).  i have been trying to ascertain damage control since that time. sadly i cannot report that i have had a clear and concise pathway. quite the contrary- i have fretted and fussed in a circuitous fashion, listening too often to the inner child’s tantrum-mantras of the past and come to the point of picking up my toys and moving to another sandbox. this has all been set in motion and i am not clear where it will take me, nor which thoughts are mature and which are primal. most mornings and evenings it is the auditory quality of standing in an aviary.
the hypocrisy of the barriers laid out by institutions and their stewards are mind boggling.  health care organizations tout themselves so often as places to heal yet their actual practices include such exclusivity and denial of individuality that they often create as much trauma as they address (if not more). no wonder the bird-sanctuary-like cacophony in my mind has been dizzying. 
the wheels are in motion and i am preparing for a journey of some sort. i feel responsible (as is my way) to those whom i have brought along on my journey. i have touted the wonders of recovery and encouraged others to try to get their feet wet in it. and now i may need to allow them to bask in the beautiful waters of their recovery without me as the direct mentoring presence. but as i type this post, i realize that some of this is the natural order of change- we have to fly on our own at some point. so it is not a requirement for me to feel ownership of something i don’t really own. it is possible to remain a source of support without being on site.
in the interim, i was talking with a friend who is experiencing a not-so-different episode in her life. it was so damn easy for me to spout off a diatribe about trusting one’s own life and process. truthfully, i know that failure is not failure at all-it’s just the feels like it to our ego at the time. we learn so much more from failure than we learn from success. failing has a much more dramatic impact and leaves a more memorable flavor in our mouths. this week finds me asking myself -what are my fears here? what am i trying to control? why the drama? 
i only hope my head will try silence long enough for me to hear the answers to those questions. 

Why Does The Wind

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image credit.. sawako beerens at pinterest
And don’t leave the back door open
And look for a way out and then say maybe you love me but theres no way of knowing
Why does the wind blow through my house at night?
Why does the wind blow through my heart each time I look into your eyes?
Dont look for reasons
Dont tear your heart wondering why the light starts fading when the day is ending
Embrace the seasons and get to believing that it’s only something broken that seems worthwhile mending
Why does the wind blow through my house at night?
Why does the wind blow through my heart each time i look into your eyes?
Your heart is sore like mine was before
You look to the sky and no one cares why
Not even the wind so where to begin
And since we exist
And why not just
Why not just
And why not just kiss?

i recently realized (duh) that i am really involved with projects in my life that i believe in and that i care about. the very frustrating part of all these things is that they all seem to struggle with finances. the clinic that i work with full time has traditionally taken care of people with no resources and funding is always a struggle. additionally it’s a medical facility and medical pricing seems to be over the top to me.

i took a second job at a small counseling agency in englewood. they actually have two locations (one in westminster) and currently do mostly dui counseling. the dui arrests have increased in numbers, however the revenue stream for dui seems to be in a drought. the englewood office is in dire need of a facelift and there is but 1 dollar to get it done. and it has to be done. i will be kind and not post pics here.

i have taken the position of chair on the board for advocates for recovery in colorado. part of their charge has been to host a rally for recovery every september (national recovery month). i am also co-chairing the rally this year. i met with the other co-chair about the budget. it’s not an easy picture. there will be funds, but i am not sure where or when. their website has been reconstructed recently after the original webmaster had a meltdown. the site was back up in days (whew) but also really needs a directional overhaul. someone mentioned at a board retreat last year that they were looking at the afr website and they couldn’t discern what we do. i have to say  i whole-heartedly agree. and having a clear message may just be more important than buying 300 baseball game tickets to give to sponsors of the rally- this year’s cost has gone up dramatically.

it seems masochistic for me to be involved in all these projects that don’t have enough. i am not sure at all that i can solve all their issues. i hope they want me to continue to try. i hope even more that i can bring some lightness and laughter with me. that is what feels to be drained the most when i consider all this lack. it’s almost as if the lack is contagious. maybe i won’t have enough wisdom or stamina to be of help. maybe i am not the right person for this job. maybe i will. maybe i will might be the most frightening of all these. maybe i am just used to being afraid.

these are just questions on a sunday morning. the answers will come. i hope i can live up to my hopes with all these situations and organizations. i don’t wanna let anybody down. but just like these lyrics ask- “why does the wind blow through my house at night”, these worries and questions run through my head most times. “you look to the sky and no one cares” seems appropriate. why does it matter when we have no way of knowing. just do what you do and live your life. thoughtful advice.

in case you don’t remember tracey thorn she and her husband used to be everything but the girl. she still has that same hauntingly beautiful tone in her voice. this is from her 2010 album “love and its opposite”

matters of the heart

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jude law image credit… john stoddart
“People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That’s not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.”
“A psychotic drowns in the very same stuff a mystic swims in.”
pema chodron

i stopped by to see my sponsor today to check in about our meeting. during the conversation, it became clear that i have some  real resistance to looking honestly at myself right now. i am not liking this realization, but i can neither ignore nor deny it. i have some reservations. about what i am not exactly sure. but i do know that i need to lean into the resistance.

i have developed too many ego issues. i have wrestled with emotional safety. i have allowed my drive to succeed to overshadow my sense of inclusion. i have opted to feel numb in lieu of feeling uncomfortable-this is fairly scary. amid all this, i have become slightly isolated. i have set boundaries with family members and this has become a fence to keep them out. in some ways i have become fearful of others and thus prideful because i don’t negotiate my fears. i let them control me and keep me like a stone sculpture. this trend has become like dining on a frozen dinner- without flavor, without adventure, and much too easy.

i realized today that i would like to speak publicly. i believe that the experiences i have catalogued might embody some valuable information. i am walking through recovery of a few types, mental health, bi-polar disorder, ptsd, sexaholism, and hiv. perhaps it sounds like a lot, but it is the road i am travelling. i’m not finished, but if i am to retell my insight, i must be more diligent about my own housekeeping. as i look around my house, i realize what a double entendre this is.

i have been listening to bettye lavette, shirley horn, and ernestine anderson lately. the vintage jazz standards create a sense of familiarity and wonder at the same time in me. but today i’ll leave you with some etta james. she passed today and i am attempting to underline how blessed i feel she was here.


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image credit-diego diaz marin

i am pretty sure that i am looking around for options as i have presently in the process of applying for a new position. i stumbled across a career horoscope reading and found it hopeful that it advised looking outside my immediate sphere for options. i have felt i might need to do this anyway for a variety of reasons, however there is that inner-critic that tells me i can’t get anything else and i need to hold on to what i have.
coincidentally, i have put out a couple of feelers and do have an idea or two. i think though that it is important for me to exercise my brain in this way. otherwise i remain stuck.

i wonder which would be tougher- being passed over for a position that might allow me to grow professionally and personally, or simply moving to position that may not offer me much change at all. tomorrow waits to explore what will take place. i know what i would like to do, but i am unclear about my motivation and my drive.

August 2011
Career Horoscopes

Dot your i’s and cross your t’s during mercury retrograde

reprinted from dailyhoroscope.com
Creativity is a key to career success for most of this month, with the Sun outgoing Leo until August 23. Instead of limiting your professional choices to the ones that are already in front of you, taking time to think outside the box may help you discover ways to improve your current working situation or to find a new one. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Leo, which is also a sign of leadership. Of course, there are risks in having your own business but that’s true of just about any line of work these days.
Another important factor now is that Mercury, the communication planet, will be retrograde August 2-26. This backward cycle tends to mess with information and messages, making it especially important to double check facts and to make sure that you and those who matter understand one another. The upside of Mercury’s reversal is the possibility to retrieve old concepts and reconnect with people who can help you professionally. Just be careful about any tendency to oversell or to buy into someone else’s inflated plans.
On August 21, attractive Venus’ shift into efficient Virgo puts a premium on competence. Refining your job-related skills and developing new ones can increase your value and, perhaps, your income as well. The Sun’s entry into Virgo on August 23 underscores the importance of being a competent and cooperative worker. Mastering tasks that require concentration may not be flashy and gain immediate attention, but can upgrade almost anyone’s professional status.

so i came across this german ensemble named “lovebirds” on beatport. they are so house-y and i swim easily in house music. always have. there is a much more popular version featuring stee downes, but i like this version, too. it’s a little more pared down.  when i am inside house music, i find drama, rhythm, melody, percussion, harmony, playfulness, and color- all of which really make my heart smile. here’s to making good decisions.  bon weekend 🙂

invisible light

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I’ll call you anything you want if I can say it’s mine.
This story’s never ending.
My footprint’s been erased.
Here you are, kiss of Evil,
I see your mouth, Or is it really…

had dinner at parallel 17 last night with friends and then went to Vintage Theatre to see their production of “Equus”. quite a full Saturday evening for me. dinner was very very good as has come to be expected from p17’s upscale vietnamese offerings. the company was sweet. there were three people who share in a community garden so there was lots of talk about seeds, vegetables, and cooking. all things that i love dearly.

the play was memorable. maybe partially because the space is so small and we sat front row. but i think more memorable because the lead performances were steeped in truth and the play itself is compelling and reigns you in as it methodically unveils the workings of a psychotherapist and his dance with a young man who has developed a toxic theology to protect himself from the real world he inhabits.
both provided a lovely distraction from my routine and gave me distraction from my current disappointment. i must say i am highly confused about where i am right now. this feeling of let-down has rolled onto my life very much like the most recent tsunami, tainting almost everything in its path. i find myself trying to figure how where to start shovelling up and digging out. frankly, not only does it feel as if the wind is knocked out of me, but i am afraid of what i am going to find when the clean-up begins.

last week i remember watching the footage from japan and trying to find faith in all that disaster. and i find that i am juggling the same concepts today. i haven’t necessarily lost faith. i just have to rekindle my connection to it. no doubt, on reason i find myself feeling as i do now is a result of disconnect.

having a sense of direction seems a great relief when contrasted with
 disillusionment and disappointment.

a rebours

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In the novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, Wilde has his main character reading often from a collection of the same book that is covered in different colored bindings- so that the color would suit any mood he was in. That book was “A Rebours” by Joris-Karl Huysman.  The title translates to “Against Nature”.

The best-known example of fin-de-siècle decadence, this novel has been banned and expurgated for years. (We suggest that readers not undertake this book until they have attained the age of 65!) A translation by Robert Baldick (“Against Nature”) in the Penguin series is convenient to read and widely available, but we now present a public domain English translation on the World Wide Web, as part of our project to prepare for the coming millennium. A version in the original French is now online at ABU: la Bibliothèque Universelle. (Look for Huysmans under “auteurs”.)

presently, i find myself struggling with my own nature. i have always decidedly (and impulsively) acted on instinct. i have mostly trusted my intuition and gotten through most situations. that is not to say that i haven’t encountered some (as well as left behind) more than just some collateral damage.

but in a quest to grow spiritually, i am slowly learning to think before i act. this sounds so simple, i know, however first impressions are often superficial. i have been reacting with fear first for most of my life. it has served me fairly well up to this point. i am sure my first friend fear has helped to get me to this juncture and age in my life. no small feat considering some of the very treacherous adventures and interactions that i have surfed.

once again i find myself in a situation that i have initially reacted with fear. but it has not been friendly to me. the fear which so often would fade with a whiskey or two, doesn’t do the same dance without the booze. instead, the fear looms and begins to grow like ivy on an iron grate, twisting and turning and changing the appearance of a thing without much notice.

a part of my life has become choked by this growth, and i am trapped in a situation that is toxic. i can’t breathe, and i wonder how much i must endure in order to participate in this part of my life. how much should doing what i am doing cost me?

my instinct tells me to run. this has consistently done the trick for me, and taken me from point a to point b. but then there’s that collateral damage thing. staying and walking through fear is not my nature at all. i am very well versed in the exit. but staying… whew!

i am here in the dark, not wanting to do what i always do,-run-,  trembling with fear inside, and wondering what will happen next. grasping behind me, fervently trying to find something to hold on to, something to give me a clue as to what’s next. something to reconnect me with those things i cannot touch right now- trust and faith..