Sacrifice and the Empath

227ee509c5e3e38ce616f7650340cf52I woke up this morning thinking about the idea of sacrifice.  As an English teacher, I know what the word the means.  I can define it, identify it as a topic in literature, or point it out as a lesson to be learned in the myriad of television shows my boys watch.

Recently I heard the story of Chiron.  Chiron was a centaur (half man/half horse) who was born to the Titan Kronos and a nymph.  A weird pairing, I admit, but their subsequent relationship created a different kind of centaur. Chiron was wise and faithful.  He was known as a healer and a speaker of prophecy.  Chiron was immortal, but he was wounded by a poison arrow, and he decided to give his immortality away to Prometheus.  He was the guy who sacrificed his life to steal fire from the Gods to give it to man.  This single act changed humanity forever.  When Zeus found out, he chained Prometheus to a rock and a vulture ate his liver everyday.  His liver then regenerated every night and the torture began anew.  Chiron gave his immortality to Promotheus thus saving him from this fate.  Despite Chiron’s incredible healing powers, he was unable to heal himself and died a bit later.  Zeus was so touched by this act of sacrifice and he turned Chiron into a constellation in the sky.  If you know anything about astrology, you may know which sign your Chiron is in.  Mine is in Aries.  This represents your deepest wound.  The part of you that must heal if you are to understand your soul path and chosen path.  Strangely enough, Chiron in Aries means that I have deep psychological or physical wounds that I hide from others.  I have difficulty believing in myself and my self-worth.  Yep, all of this is definitely true of me.

T20.1PrometheusSo what does this all have to do with me?  I am not entirely sure.  Why did I wake up this morning with the story of Chiron and sacrifice coursing through my over-active mind?  No idea.

I do know that my deep wounds are being touched on at this time: my fears of not being a worthy mother or partner.  I am still working on healing these every day, but I feel like it is getting better.  Perhaps, like Chiron, some wounds are too deep and I just have to give into the idea that they cannot be healed in this lifetime, but this thought seems too morose.  Perhaps I am Prometheus, and my good deeds will eventually be rewarded despite the suffering that transgressed before.  Either way, I will think about it in silence and see what happens when I take to the mat.

Trust. Trust. Trust

On Being a Lighthouse

220px-SplitPoint_0072I believe in signs.  The Universe always seems to send me messages through objects that are around me.  Somehow my mind connects a person in my life or an idea about something that is happening to an object, so when I see this object, I immediately know that the Universe has my back.  The list just gets longer and longer.  Elephants, butterflies, anchors, and now lighthouses.

At first I thought the message was that I was supposed to be a lighthouse for others.  I was reading a book that used this lighthouse analogy when explaining love.  Sometimes people get lost.  If one person acts as a lighthouse for the other, the person can sometimes find his way back.  He can look for the light as he tosses on the storm of his own troubles.  Later that day, the movie Jerry Maguire ended with Bob Dylan’s Shelter from the Storm.

Then I went to the beach.  A large light house perches at the end of the cove in the center of Cape May.  I saw lighthouses everywhere I went and continued to believe that this was my sign that I am lighthouse for others.  My mom sarcastically reminded me that we were in Cape May, which is known for its lighthouses, but I just knew that there was a deeper message here.

But then, in the middle of one of my meditations, an thought arose: I am the lighthouse for myself.  My inner being is the light within that leads me.  It is my inner light that is guiding me through the darkness and tumultuous waves of thought.  If I follow this guiding light that exists in me, I can get through my storms.  How arrogant of me to think I could be this for someone else.  They are their own lighthouse to follow, their own beacon in the dark that guides them to the truth that can only be found inside themselves.  If my truth can only be found inside of me, why in the world did I believe that I was here to be that for them?  This is not to say that the light we shine from within cannot sometimes act as an awakening for others, but in the end, these tall, bright structures that sit at the edge of pain and despair our own connection to Source.  It is the individual’s job to search in the endless black for the glimmer of light that gleams within us.  Until we do that, we are lost.

amazing-lighthouse-landscape-photography-3Trust. Trust. Trust

Be in this world but not of it. -Jesus of Nazareth

bridgeI love this quote.  It has become my mantra over and over again when I feel myself getting tangled in the web of the world around me.  Sometimes the strings in my life have barbs and they tug and snare, and I think of these words and feel instantly calm.

I said them once to my father as he went on a tirade about some commotion with his family.  He was sad because after his mother’s death his family was squabbling about what to do with certain items, money, and property.  The emotions he was carrying with him were heavy, and I often have a difficult time in the presence of them.  I wanted a way to calm him, soothe his fears and anger, so I said, “Be in this world but not of it.”

He quieted for a moment, then asked, “What does that mean?”  I explained to him that it’s the thought that we are created to be in this world and a part of its manifestations, but as soon as we lose ourselves in the mastication of events, we are lost.

“Think about,” I said.  “We are physical beings.  We are in a physical reality much of the time.  There are events and things that transpire that we cannot control nor should we.  As soon as we start to believe that these events and things are who we are, we lose the thread.  We are spiritual beings living a physical experience.”  He looked at me like I had three heads.  He nodded and continued driving, no longer lamenting the affairs of his family. I felt generally soothed by the fact that he was at least mulling it over.

After a few minutes he turned to me, “So which one of your psycho babble new-aged philosophers taught you that idea?”

I laughed.  “Jesus,” I said.  He paused again.  His deep and abiding love for Catholicism kept him from going any further with this his derides.

“So tell me again what this means,” he said. I did, but I am still quite sure he didn’t get it, and truthfully, that’s okay.

The quotes I remember, the mantras that keep me going, the words of wisdom that help steer me in the right direction day after day are here for my journey.  The understanding that we are all here to learn our particular brand of lesson is never lost on me, and I try to remember that before I get frustrated by lack of understanding.  We are all on our own paths and we are shown constant signs to help guide us through, and perhaps showing others our sign posts help them or maybe it just helps us.  As we reaffirm an idea for another, it travels more deeply into the core of us, and there it becomes lodged and more of a truth than it was before.  Either way, it is good.

Trust. Trust. Trust

Wondering About the Nature of Love

heartWhen does someone know she is in love?  Is it just a level of caring that overtakes her softly and then sideswipes her over and over again until she wonders which way is up?  Or is love a combination of waves crashing on a beach, sometimes soft and lapping other times thunderous and raw? Does it matter if the other person loves us back?

I have read every relationship book ever created.  I have read The Rules, and It’s only F*cking Dating, He’s Just Not That Into You, Ignore the Guy and Get the Relationship You Want, Rory Raye, and Bruce Bryans, The Key to Getting His Heart, How to Be the Girl Who Gets the Guy…just to name a few, and I feel I have found the common thread that links them all together.  It is about loving myself first.  Unfortunately, this is the tough part, and these books aren’t entirely helpful in explaining how a person does this.  One suggests “circular dating”, and another is more keen on buying something that the person who is a successful relationship would own.  This way you are already materializing the good things you will have in the future. There are visualizations and experimentations, drawing clear boundaries, and feeling your emotions.  It’s all pretty exhausting.

A few months ago I went to the 2017 Flower Show at the Convention Center in Philadelphia.  I decided to go alone. I was going to take advice from one of my countless advisers: Just date yourself for awhile.  As I walked among the myriad flower displays, a cold loneliness washed over me. It was surreptitious at first.  I had fooled myself into thinking that I was totally having fun weaving in and out of the vendors, closely studying the beautiful displays.  It was right around then that I started to notice couples everywhere.  They were holding hands or kissing under arbors, snuggling up to catch a selfie, and I felt the bottom drop out.  I texted my mom.

Me: At at the Flower Show

Mom: That’s great, Honey

Me: I am on a date with myself

Mom: Oh, that’s wonderful

Me: I just realized something

Mom: What’s that?

Me: I don’t even want to date me

Silence.  It was at that moment that I realized I had run into a wall.  If the truth was that I could not even have a good time with myself, then what was I expecting on the other side of all of this.  I realized with sudden clarity that it was not love I was seeking, but a body to fill the void and keep me from me.  But why?  Why go to such lengths just to avoid me?  It would be in meditation that the answer was found.

In the silence, I remembered.  I remembered being that sad, little girl sitting in her room, ignored by the adults around her.  I remember my dad laughing and telling people that he could always hear me talking to myself. I was alone so much.  A child of divorce and a father who worked seven days a week…there wasn’t much time for me.  The thought of being alone catapulted me back to that moment if I wanted to go there or not, but then I remembered something Eckhart Tolle had said, “Our past is merely an interpretation of events.”  The loneliness certainly didn’t feel fabricated.  It felt very real and I resented those adults who didn’t care for me.  Either way the past was sitting in my lap during my meditation and I allowed it. I gave the pain and the loneliness space to be.  I did not deny that little girl the feeling of her loneliness, but I reminded the adult me, who was coming to realize that she was already whole.   I tried gentleness as opposed to an egoic tug of war with myself.  I allowed it to just be.  I wish I could say that it all dissipated and at that moment I was free, but any student of meditation knows that it seldom works that way.  My little girl self returns with a vengeance or sometimes a gentle tapping, but she always returns for the compassionate reassurance that she is not alone.

So going back to love…I feel that the best is on the mat, deep in meditation and silence.  I go within when I am overwhelmed with these emotions, even if going to the mat means I stop in a public place to catch my breath.   Currently, I am in love with a man.  I am trying not to let my white, hot loneliness take over, but I am filled whearts3ith fear. I want to nail this down, figuring it out, give it a title, know that it is all going to work out, but I have to go back to my mat.  I need to recalibrate and focus on what is real.  Love from Source.  Love that is already me.

Trust. Trust. Trust.

The Alchemist

moebius-alchemist-4Once long ago, a tarot card reader told me I was an Alchemist in a past life.

“You were very powerful and quite cruel,” she said as she turned another card over and looked at the spread with folded hands.

“What is an Alchemist?” I asked, which is a bit weird because I was less hung up on the cruel part and more concerned about what an Alchemist did.

“An Alchemist was a shaman of sorts and believed that he could turn base metals into gold, the most precious metal of all.  Many of them were charlatans, but you were able to do very magical things.  This made you mean and cruel, especially to women.  You are still paying this karmic debt in this lifetime.”  At the time I bowed my head, a bit shamed that now I had even more to regret, more to lament, but now years later I realize that psychics and tarot cards are helpful, but they are only part of the message.

In fact, her telling me I was an Alchemist led me to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and the novel changed my perspective about life.  It is a story about a shepherd boy who falls in love, and dreams one night of finding a treasure.  He decides that he needs to journey out to see the world and find his treasure and then he can marry his true love.  He sets out on a boat across the sea.  During his travels he runs into many fine people and many ruinous ones.  You will have to read the book to find out the ending, but I promise, it is worth it.

The part that I want to highlight today is where a King gives him two stones: Urim and Thummin.  The stay in a pouch he carries by his side.  When he has a good clear question that requires only a “yes” or “no”, he is told to consult the stones.imagesstones3

One day he is told by an old man that when you want to achieve something, all the Universe conspires to help you achieve it. This fills him with hope, but it is quickly lost as terrible things befall him and he finds himself lost and penniless, so he consults the stones.  He asks if that old man’s blessing of the Universe helping him with all his desires is still with him.  He took out one of the stones and the answer was “yes”.  He put the stone back in his pouch and he asked if he were going to finally find his treasure, and as he stuck his hand back in the pouch, both stones fell out.  He remembered what the King had said, “Learn to recognize omens and follow them.”  The boy smiled as he picked up the stones and realized that sometimes one must make his own decision and that trust is as important as divination.

I have asked again during my morning meditation for my soul’s path and my greatest passion and again I am met with silence and a gurgling of the word TRUST.  I felt fear and anxiety rise in my stomach and chest, but it was met with the word TRUST again.  Perhaps the answers we are looking for cannot be given until the time is right.  Though the Universe is constantly a co-creator of our desires it determines the timeline and the way things will progress.  Maybe my job is to ask for what I want and then sit back. TRUST. TRUST. TRUST

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Loving What Is

112592_a5614d42“Loving what is” is not mine.  It is from Pema Chodron, but I like it all the same.  She teaches us to accept those parts of ourselves that we struggle with.  She tells us to take ourselves just as we are.

This is so difficult for me.  Perhaps it is difficult because we live in a society that tells us we can always be better.  Perhaps it is difficult because I grew up in a house that told me I was never good enough.  Perhaps it is difficult because sometimes I feel like there is a tremendous hole deep in my guts that can only be filled if I perfect myself and someone loves me.  My meditation teacher constantly reminds me…”Kelly,” she says gently.  “There is no hole.  You are already whole.  W-h-o-l-e.”  When she says this in her calm, reassuring voice, I always relax.  I feel that part of me disengage and for a moment I feel free.

Pema Chodron tells us that meditation practice is not about throwing ourselves away to become something better, but I think I often treat it that way because I want to outrun the pain I feel or the anxiety that wakes me up in the morning.  I have sat with my “white, hot loneliness” once and again and again. I have felt it dissolve.  I have felt it reemerge hours later.  I have wished for it to just go away forever.  I have wished for the man who could take it away forever.  Neither of these things can happen.

So am I am back to hearing the words “Loving what is” and I am dedicated to sitting on my mat so that I can love myself exactly as I am.  Love my insecurities, jealously, vulnerability, feelings of unworthiness, pain, loneliness, boredom…the list feels untouchable, but yet, I continue.  These words feel ugly to me and unwanted.  Allowing them for even one moment to exist in me or through me sounds insane.  My inner child who was abused and hurt wants to scream that no one will ever love those parts of me, and then I hear a voice.  “Yes,” it says.  “You already are.”

Trust. Trust. Trust

Day 3: Finding My Passion

Nature_ArtToday during my morning meditation I asked my inner being again…what is my greatest passion? A thought entered my mind: Don’t forget that you need to sign up for that conference Christine texted you about.  Teaching, I love my job.  I have been a teacher for fourteen years, but I was a teacher long before that.  When I was a little girl, I would create fake classrooms in my mind and I would be both student and teacher.  I would read a spelling list to my stuffed animals and then take each individual spelling test as the various students and then grade each one, closely checking for mistakes.

As I went through public school, I was inspired by the good teachers who made a difference and driven by terrible teachers who should have left the profession long ago, and I dropped my dream of being a writer to teach.  I wanted to make a difference. I knew that my love of teaching students and not necessarily the content was my greatest asset to offer.

I am passionate about finding ways to help my students learn. I have taken so many workshops, read so many books, and worked tirelessly on lessons and enjoyed it immensely.  This conference (that popped suddenly to mind this morning) was offered to me months ago, but the district wasn’t sure it was going to pay for it.  Yesterday I found out they approved it in the budget and that I need to sign up ASAP.

Could this be passion number 1?  It seems so simple. Could the exact thing I chose as my career be one of the greatest passions in my life?  Was I expecting a bolt of lightening and a burning bush to lead me where I need to go?  Like writing, I have lost the thread over the last few years.  As I tried to juggle my new life as a single parent, many of the things I love doing have fallen by the wayside.  Now that things are settling down, getting back to being a strong teacher feels me with excitement.  Creating new lessons and ways to reach my students have always been sources of great pleasure for me.  I have enjoyed the things that have worked out and also the ones that didn’t.heart

Perhaps this workshop in August is just the kick start I need before the new school year to start to focus again on my career.  Yes, this feels good.  This feels like a start and a positive step in the right direction.

Trust. Trust. Trust.