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  • Chapter 4 - I Wanna Be a Talk Show Host

    I am currently writing to you from a strip mall in Palm Coast, Florida. I am settled into “my” chair at a local Dunkin Donuts. An iced coffee sits on the table beside me as the happy chatter of two nearby nursing students and the whir of the latte machine buzzes in my ear. I can feel the energy that swoops around the patrons as we place our orders, nibble on donuts, and talk to our friends. It’s an incredibly bland and ordinary scene and yet simultaneously cosmic. I’m beginning to wonder if this specific Dunkin might just hold the wisdom of it all! We think we’re all so separate - a bunch of individuals having our own experiences, but I think this may be a partial illusion. We've been led to believe that we are all islands, disconnected from the vast waters that connect us all. And while yes, on one level we are separate beings with very different life experiences, the more people I meet in my life, and the more I get to know myself, the more this story of separation dissolves. Case and point these guys: This group of men come to Dunkin every day and sit in the back corner. They drink their coffee, talk politics, and gripe about the state of the world. And although I'm not fully onboard with their perspectives (they're self-proclaimed, passionate Trump supporters) I love the weird way they're part of my life. With genuine affection, they call me “the resident hippie”, smiling and welcoming me when I arrive. I love the soft and tender energy these men have for each other, the way they watch out for each other and me, and greet all the regulars who come in. Since my twenties, I’ve been fixated, or dare I say obsessed, with dissolving the walls that divide us - both the internal walls that keep us from knowing our true selves and the external ones that keep us from knowing our fellow humans. Thus as part of my life journey, I've assigned myself the bold task of hosting forty-two conversations about life. These will be conversations with people who pique my interest, fellow travelers on this life journey. Through these connections, and by sharing them with you, I hope to reconnect some of those shattered shards of separation that make us feel so alone. This week I talked with Baba Ananda Myers. Ananda (Aka Jeff Myers) spent his younger years touring with the Grateful Dead and attending Rainbow Gatherings across the country.  He's since settled with his family in Taos, New Mexico where he works as a church choir director and is an active member of the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram, a Hindu-based community in Taos, New Mexico founded by Be Here Now author Ram Dass. In this conversation, Ananda tells a funny story about finding the ashram and getting his spiritual name. We also discuss the notion of “cult”, and dive deep into what it means to be human. You can listen to my conversation with Baba Ananda Myers - HERE. As I go on this venture, I continue to maintain my belief that within each of us exists “God-Matter”.  It's an innate, intoxicating beauty that is woven into our very being. It is us! And while I don’t quite know why we’re here, I know for myself life feels most “right” when I allow the walls of disconnection to crumble, making more and more room for the light to shine in. The more I do this, the more I can see the magic of it all. PS. Forgive the watermark on the video. I'm still working out the kinks.

  • Chapter 3 - The Shame Game

    In one of my Facebook groups, a member posted a question about shame. She confessed her personal experiences of shame and then asked the group to share their stories. Below her post was a multitude of comments from individuals confessing their beautiful, bare, and raw experiences with shame. I’ll admit, shame can be a robust and monstrous entity in my life. It is an ever-present fixture in the background of my existence, crippling me in bed each morning as it tells me to doubt my competency, my capability, my ability to move forward. My secret fear?  I’m afraid I cannot be a productive member of society. I spent two decades of my life as a stay-at-home mother. I worked in bits and pieces and wrote books but I never had to work to put food on the table. Now divorced as I look for jobs I feel I sense of absolute overwhelm. In many ways I'm overqualified, too skilled…and maybe too proud to take jobs that I fear will shove me into uncomfortable boxes, boxes that I believe will squelch everything that I've come to be. In my bare ugliness, I will tell you, that I'm deeply ashamed for being pampered my whole life, I'm ashamed for expecting more out of life than the baseline offerings at hand. I'm ashamed for wanting more, for thinking I deserve more. The truth is, oftentimes I'm ashamed for being me. And so I return to the one familiar spot that I was trained to embody from a very early age. I'm ashamed of being “too much”, too passionate, too willful, too moody, too big for my britches, too demanding. For my whole life the internal message was to stay small, and yet…and yet….lately these days a new voice is emerging. When I get real quiet I can feel a strange undercurrent rising in me like a tide. In my depths a secret river hums, singing with the sweetness of a lullaby “Be big, be beautiful be you…we've got your back”. I don't even know what that means but I feel it beneath the clutter of stories I've been told. The whisperings of this secret river are incredibly scary and yet exceedingly exciting as well! I have a hunch that at one point in human history shame served a purpose. It helped us as human-animals establish roles, rules, and dominance. Not a bad thing in a healthy, balanced society. But somewhere along the lines of our human journey, shame was twisted and contorted and mined to take advantage of others. It became a way of exerting power and violence over others. Unhealthy, power-hungry people who wanted more from others played a game. Their strategy?  “If I cripple you with shame you will do my bidding, you will stay on path, and you won't rock the boat.”  And it worked!  Look at this human species. So many of us are walking around with lead on our feet, burdened by that dark, hand-me-down shadow of shame, denying who we truly are. And so here we are, unconsciously tossing around these feelings of inadaquacy. We've been taught by unhealthy parents (who undoubtedly felt shame themselves), by the media, by teachers, bosses, political leaders that we need to stay small. It’s been pounded in us from every angle of existence for so long that many of us no longer need outside sources to be reminded of our inadequacies. Our very bodies are programmed to submit. Like a small implanted worm inside us, we, without hesitation keep ourselves small. But!  Within us is a secret river!  It whispers to us, in our magic moments, “You are enough!” Each of us has potent powers, purpose on this earth. We’re all needed in our own special ways. Life is hard.  Being human is hard, but I wonder what life would be like if we didn’t carry the heavy weight of shame. What would happen if we really truly knew we were enough? Writing prompt:  Tell me about the things you feel ashamed of …and then maybe, if you'd like tell us what that secret river of hope tells you as well. In what ways are you absolutely worthy of being all you’re meant to be?

  • Chapter 2 - Axons and Dendrites

    For the span of my father’s career, he worked as a well-respected psychiatrist in Madison, Wisconsin. He didn’t believe much in the mysterious, awesome, inexplicable world that I now live in, the one in which the wind speaks in riddles and angels appear on your doorstep just when you need them most. I believe Dad chose to see life experiences more in a chemical nature - symptoms of the activity of axons and dendrites of the brain. It worked for him, but for me not so much. I’m a feeler. I experience the world through sensation, through subtle shiftings of energies, through the wild callings of my heart. I never told Dad much about my wild callings. Once, later in his life, when I happened to mention this notion of magic to him, he seemed to not hear me. “How is your mood?” he’d ask me in his slow, aging voice. Was I manic? Depressed? Anxious?  These were the things that seemed to matter. These were the gauges of my well-being. I wonder (and hope) now that he’s out of his tired body that he’s getting to experience the wonder and magic and freedom that I have had a taste of - the ecstasy of connection, the freedom of disconnection, the feeling of divine love in motion. There’s more to this world than the physical. I hope he now experiences that too. In my teen years my father sort of disappeared. He was diagnosed in his mid-forties with Parkinson's disease and because of this, he chose to retire from his career early. He slowly, gently moved out of my center focus. He didn’t talk much about what he was going through. It seemed instead he just slipped deeper into his stoic silence. But I was a kid, dating boys, preparing for college. His slow disappearance didn’t affect me much on a conscious level as I was moving on and living my life. I suspect he wanted it this way. In early December of 2023, just two months ago, the hospice team reached out to me. They were seeing changes in my dad. His decline had become more rapid. He was eating less, sleeping more. Around this time something shifted in me. I had planned a huge, gallant writing project. I was going to team up with my amazing friend, a visual artist and we were going to create a potent book. But a week into this project I froze. I sunk into a depression. Anger, panic, and a sense of mistrust seized me. I blamed my friend, my therapist, and anyone and everyone who wasn’t meeting my ideals of perfection in the moment, but secretly I knew it wasn't them at all. It was me. I was paralyzed, scared, unsure of my boundaries. The truth is I had spent so much time post-divorce trying to prove that I was worthy of bigness. I built my social media platform, plotted out a heart-centered business, and designed spiritually robust marketing plans. But they never went anywhere. In my quest for BIG, I was oftentimes oblivious to my own tired, wounded body that actually begged to be small. So I took a month off from ambition. From January 1st through February 1st of this year, I resigned to simply be. Following the Taoist path of Wu Wei. I decided to “let the mud settle”. No trying, no proving, just quiet observation of what brings me joy. In these observations I discovered what brings me the greatest of joys - connecting with people, talking with them about life’s big questions. Here are my notes from last month - This Magical Life - A Book This will be a story about finding ourselves and our purpose in the world. It's about being with people in a raw authentic way talking about the big questions in life, puzzling over it together. This book will be my adventure going into the depths of my heart with others. I then wrote: I love seeing humans in their raw authentic beauty. It is like a sunrise. It is a walk in the woods. It is meditation. This will be a story about my personal search for the mythic Grail, the collective grail…the meaning of life…the nature of the divine….one's true purpose in living. I believe the grail is in each of us. It is in our DNA. I'm going on a quest to find it within. Three weeks into my sabbatical of “doing-not-doing” I got the call. My dad had passed away. On February 1st, 2024 we buried my father. My self-created sabbatical had ended on the exact date I had planned, but with more ceremony than I could have ever imagined. In Jewish tradition at the graveside mourners are given an opportunity to toss dirt into the grave. On the morning of the burial, after the rabbi took the first scoop, I stepped up, wrapped my hands around a shovel, and dropped the dirt into the grave. I can still smell the soil. I can still hear the sound of the heavy, damp dirt dropping like a snare onto the casket. I think in that moment I wasn't just burying Dad. I was tossing in with it my own broken self - the one who always searched for love, the one who needed to be seen. I said goodbye to the broken girl, the emotionally dependent, “sick” daughter who always needed a man by her side to feel safe. Not only on this day had my sabbatical come to an end, my journey of never being enough was coming to an end as well. With a scoop of dirt I tossed the little, broken girl deep into the ground. As I write to you now it is the evening of February 19th. I find myself sitting in the middle of my living room floor, typing on my phone. The sun has gone down and the brightness of a single overhead lamp pours light on me like a spotlight. It wasn't my plan to be writing right now, nor was it my plan to weave words about grief into these pages, but currently writing is all I can do to feel calm. Anxiety has gotten the best of me these days. As I pause for a moment right now, I feel a strange kind of hollowness, an empty longing. I don't quite know who I am. I can feel the gap inside where the broken girl once lived. I think tonight I've found another aspect of the Grail. It's not the part we talk about. It's not the chalice itself, but the hollow, empty insides. As terrible and strange as grief feels, I wonder if this vast, empty space is actually a crucial part of the mystery itself. Maybe the vastness is in fact an unspoken part of the whole. It is the space in all of us that longs to be filled. Now that the king is gone, the rules have all changed. All I have as a guidebook are these strange, unencumbered feelings of sadness and emptiness, the potent sting of the unknown guiding me like untouchable stars faintly lighting the way. I think my dad could have been wrong about the axons and dendrites. I mean yes, of course, they are there, but it seems the real matter, the real stuff of life isn't matter at all, but the unspeakables, the tingles, the sensations, the pain and longing, the empty volume within. Maybe, just maybe, these awkward, difficult sensations are the key to my story. Maybe the suffering I plan to ask about for this project is not something to be fixed, but instead is the way in - a star chart - a guide to the fullness that life begs us to be. And so, I start this project with only a faint guide of gentle stars.  I use these very sensations, these aches, this perpetual curiosity, this infinite, uncomfortable wonder to show me the way…and bring you, my reader friends along with me. Stay tuned.  Who knows what stories will emerge, what people I’ll meet…it’s all for us to see. Thank you for reading. If you want to be updated on future chapters please join my Facebook group and sign up for my mailing list.

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