Who Dares?

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If God is for me, who would dare to be against me?

Is there anything bigger, wiser, or more powerful?

Is there anything, even my own actions or inactions, that could possibly separate me from the love of God?

Can anything be redeemed for good?

If God is for me, then that’s enough. Period. No, not period, Exclamation point!!

On this darkest day of the year, Winter Solstice, I can simply point out with terrestrial and celestial veracity, that from here on things will lighten up!

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It simply is so.

Therefore, today I sing, laugh and dance remembering the future…the one who sows in tears reaps in joy.

What Is Your Samson Strength?

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What is your greatest strength? I don’t mean strengths plural. I mean strength singular. The deepest thing. The fallback. The go-to. The ‘when-there-is-nothing-to-hang-on-to’. The deep well. The ‘I-got-nothing-else-feeling?

There is usually one really deep aspect in each of us that is distinct. From my life experience, circumstances, education, wisdom with others and reminders from sacred texts, there is one “thing” that is your particular, unique strength. If you can’t name it just yet, no worries, keep reading.

I didn’t believe in the notion that we have one core “strength” because it seemed too simplistic and I love complexity. Also, I didn’t want to believe it because it felt minimizing to my ego. I didn’t resonate in my spirit, but I’m not sure why.  I can speculate that I wasn’t ready to receive it, I could say that the fullness of time had not come. I could say that my ego was too big, I could say that I didn’t allow it in because of my existing belief structure. Quite frankly, it doesn’t really matter why, so I’ve just put the why question aside and just accepted that I think it’s true.

I think stories explain things better so here is the story of Samson and Delilah. Here is the quick and dirty of their story. Samson was very strong, physically a Mr. Mighty. He couldn’t be overtaken even by the strongest of men. Samson enjoyed having a romantic relationship with Delilah. They would have pillow talk and she would ask him to tell her the secret to his strength. After a couple of conversations where he answered her falsely, she persisted in asking him for his secret code and in a particularly vulnerable moment, Samson told her the truth (which was that he had never cut his hair due to his devotion to God as a Nazarite). Delilah took the info and used it against him by cutting his hair while he slept thereby ending his super power. After his haircut, Samson’s enemies easily over took him. He was subsequently thrown into bondage, ridiculed and subjected to disgrace. Until…

We don’t know how much time passed from the sneaky haircut until the next part in the story, but after “some time had passed” (enough time for his hair to grown again), Samson prayed to God for one more surge of strength to defeat his enemies. God obliged and Samson’s strength crushed his enemies under the intention of giving glory to God.

My core, bottom-line, when-all-else fails strength is joy. I’ve recognized it all my life and it has guided me, protected me, informed me, warned me and sustained me until Delilah cut my hair. I didn’t ask for the haircut. It happened while I slept. Like Samson, I had grown complacent and proud which led to laziness and undisciplined choices resulting in bondage, however, that prision was the thing that ultimately set me free again. Bondage stinks. I don’t recommend it. If you can avoid it, I would advise you to learn the easy way whenever possible. (More details on that idea on another day). For now, I’ll give the spoiler alert that until I had all other gifts, skills, talents

Bondage stinks. I don’t recommend it. If you can avoid it, I would advise you to learn life’s lessons the easy way whenever possible. (More details on that idea on another day). For now, I’ll give the spoiler alert that until I had all other gifts, skills, talents and people removed, I couldn’t realize that the deepest, most profound, innate, unearned strength in me is joy. Ultimately to be a wise steward of my human journey, I must be a guardian of that which sustains that strength (more on that idea another time too).

Don’t forget that stories like Samson’s or mine are not principles nor law, but they are meant to remind us of the Truth within. With that in mind, here’s a little whisper coming at you from Samson and me.

1) Don’t take your gift for granted, it can go away very quickly.

2) Guard yourself from unwisely subjecting yourself to unnecessary temptation.

3) Humility has the power to restore us even in the worst of circumstances.

What is your Samson strength? Click here to share it with me in an email and I’ll be happy to be your witness.

Confusion Within

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Confusion Within

Confusion sort of makes me feel dead. I notice my shoulders droop and chin drop.

It’s a general unidentifiable malaise. There is nothing to point at, no one to blame, no apparent problem to fix. Languor drapes itself like a man sprawled out from too much to drink.

It feels like too many ideas, wishes, hopes, and disappointments to fit into one box. They lie like broken pieces that cannot be mended, tossed into the junk drawer waiting to get repurposed into something useful down the road. The many differences cannot be fused together, or can they? Isn’t this the real spiritual work? Isn’t this the paradox? Isn’t this the stretch to find the perfectness in imperfection?

I really dislike this range of feelings. Confusion seems to anesthetize me to the things that really matter and dims my heart and mind more than I’d like it to. I stop feeling love, passion, justice, hope, possibility, freedom. Confusion waves a magic wand and places a hocus pocus freeze on those qualities. I sort of lose my ability to feel or at least identify how I feel. And, I suppose, that is why confusion feels like an enemy or at least a mischievous jokester.

If I ignore it, then the point goes to the enemy within. If I pick up a sword with anger in my mind, then I lose two points in life’s game. If I cry, then it’s kind of like taking a milk and cookies break, but the game goes on. I’m discovering that the most peace inducing strategy is a slow fix.

I began my aikido with a glare stare and resort to my secret weapon: a deep, long, slow ujjayi. Then, I make a mental circumference after noticing the potency of the vast sensory dimensions. Once I’ve hoisted my lasso around the feeling, I recognize my need for clarity. I remember who’s who. Then, I whip out my needle and thread and begin stitching together the quilt of paradox.

I con my way into fusing the pieces

Icon my way into a new imagery

In me fuse

Infuse with new life

Therefore, I con fusion into whatever I choose

Bioluminescence near Jenner

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Excited chit chat diminished among the paddlers as the black, dense fog hid all the natural night light. Stars and moon were no contest for the moistened breath that blanketed the entire region. Sunset allured the adventurers down the Russian River to its mouth where fresh waters turned salty and banked edges became wide open. The tangled waters swirled about the kayaks and stand up paddleboards leaving the seafarers on a giddy high as their senses guzzled the intoxicatingly seductive beautiful scene.

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Slipping over the non-manmade line from fresh water to salty, the six were led to a vacated beach where massive decomposing trees lay strewn like surrendered broken bones awaiting resurrection. The logs were transformed from earth to smoke as the collection of gathered sticks became the paddlers’ seaside offering and request for warmth.

Group anticipation was high during the seaside, fireside chat. The paddlers patiently awaited Mother’s cue for the moment she would invite the sea to put on its light show. Playful fingers and toes jumped to the waves and began stirring the Pacific pot. Giggles erupted as the waters lit up and began the dance of light. Waves became iridescent, fluorescent, glowing. Footprints glowed and sparkled. Banks of waves pushed toward shore revealing the glowing white caps in the distance, connecting elongated stripes of fluorescent green which laid across the water.Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.49.34 PM

The ocean became illuminated as if under a black light expressing itself like magical pixie dust. Each sweeping stroke of the paddle through the darkened water became as a conductor’s baton calling forth a symphonic melody of dancing light under the salty sea.

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A few measly lines on a page won’t convey our adventure, but it’s in the recollection of this memory that appreciation deepens for the many intricacies that are happening all around that we are not seeing but are part of nonetheless.

Nature expressed herself brightly, quietly

Humans marveled

Time slipped by

Love, harmony, and beauty appreciated

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At night, the waves glow a vivid blue color caused by Bioluminescent Dinoflagellates. Dinoflagellates are tiny plankton organisms which live in the sea and obtain energy from sunlight during the day. In darkness, they emit bright blue light in response to movement within the water. The intensity of the light peaks about two hours after dark and is simply amazing to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_56UceBKvlU#action=share

 

Saucha – part deux

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If you read my last entry on 5/25/16, I’d said that I had decided to begin a 28 day cleanse to practice ‘saucha’ which is a yogic practice referring to cleansing and purity.

Now, the 28 day dietary cleaning up period is long over and it was a mix of what I would call “incomplete success”. It was incomplete because I made a commitment to myself that I didn’t keep…perfectly.

For the first four days, I waded through the struggle of detox sensations which is why I decided to clean up in the first place. It’s what I know in my body as the blissful misery of getting rid of the junk. Then, by the second week, I felt so good that I didn’t feel the need to continue the cleanse. This is a slippery slope because I could rationalize to myself why I shouldn’t break my commitment to hold out for 28 days like I published. My intention for commencing this 28 day cleanse was to redeem my body from the dietary pressures I had subjected it to while staying in the home of some people who consumed very different foods than I normally ate. I had made a choice to prioritize my love, appreciation and gratitude to my hosts over creating an awkward scene of buying separate foods. They were being gracious and I preferred to receive their offering. It was manageable but after a few months, it took its toll on my body. On this particular fast, my intention was more for physical recovery than mental or spiritual. But, once I made the declaration to self and others, I skewed my process.

I continually marvel at how quickly my body likes to heal itself and when I am able to control my food intake deliberately. And, as with this cleanse, within a week I felt like I didn’t need to continue. That’s where the “incomplete success” part comes in- I didn’t uphold the commitment that I made to myself mentally. I broke the promise I made to myself.

In the Yoga Sutras, verse 2:40 talks about the benefits of saucha as developing an attitude of disinterest toward one’s body for the deeper result of cultivating behaviors that allow a natural flow toward the inner reality of the divine to be experienced. If we can create a clean body, it makes it easier to cultivate a clean mind. Haven’t we all experienced that when our body is achy, injured or  sick that it is more challenging to handle emotional or psychological pressures, let alone experience the higher states of consciousness?

Taking a food cleanse challenge isn’t an easy place to start. If you want to practice saucha, declutter is a good first step or reconciling your checkbook or cleaning the bathroom. If you are motivated to clean out the body, an easy first step might be to cut out all sugars or meats/dairy or bread or coffee.

As for me, I’d decided to go to the extreme because I’d done it many times before and had expected results. This time, however, I didn’t have my normal support structures in place and I found new challenges to face that became too much pressure emotionally. I kept eating clean, but not at the level that I’d pronounced of “strict vegan plus no whites”. I found that the practice of saucha inadvertently led me back to practicing self-love and forgiveness. In this respect, it provided success. Unknowingly, I made a promise that was bigger than was healthy for me to uphold.

Could I have kept my commitment? Yes, probably so, but the greater learning was to recognize that my commitment was influenced with a mixture of pride to find success. Redirecting and realigning felt humbling, and yet truer to the grander picture of well-being which was more aligned with my original intention. I needed to surrender to the higher call of letting go so that defeat could lead me to victory.

In hindsight, I didn’t need to make a 28 day commitment – that came from an egoic place – I needed to purify slowly, daily and pay attention until the body recalibrated.

This is a humbling entry because my body was ready to come into alignment, but my ego fights on. My lessons continue.

Saucha

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I’ve made a new commitment to myself for 28 days. I’m digging into some discipline practices this month. The focus is Saucha. Saucha is a Sanskrit word that is translated to mean purity or clean. I’ve decided I need to clean things up in my body.

I am so incredibly grateful that I have a very healthy body and over the last few months I sort of took advantage of its good constitution. My diet has been lacking the typical nutrition that it needs to feel its best. It’s time to turn things around. A few days ago I jumpstarted myself with a short term commitment to go squeaky clean: no whites, no caffeine, no animal products. I’m going green! I’m psyched to get back to kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard, broccoli…ok, ok, I’ll stop there.

I can feel the results already. I know how quickly this mini-detox rejuvenates me and even though I’ve barely begun, I know how quickly change happens. I’ll write more about the learnings and process, but in the meantime, maybe you’ll join me in making a shift for a few weeks?

Here’s to good health!