Reflections From My True Self

Remembering Who I Really Am


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A Gateway

There is a pain wedged beneath my ribs, radiating like heat into the rest of my body. My heart rests on it. Together, they make a formidable weight.

I want to banish the pain. Obliterate it. Erase it.

All of my energy turns towards it, intense and focused. The rest of me is left feeling tired, weak, drained.

I drag myself around. Then I remember this is also a gateway, this pain. It is a gateway into discovering, as I have so many times before, only to promptly forget anew, that there is no separation between that pain and me. There is no me versus it.

I pass through the gateway, armed with all of my “going on an adventure” gear, including my curiosity. And the pain begins softening, dissolving into my tissue.

And my heart, it is floating free.

Photo credit: Kevin Tuck at RGBstock.com

Photo credit: Kevin Tuck at RGBstock.com


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Fickle to My Calling

That calling, that pulling, forceful energy that awakens a  yearning inside me, I feel it again. I recognize it. I know that I am meant to move towards it, as it moves towards me.

But when I think I can almost define it, almost close my fingers over it or pull it to me in an embrace, I lose it, the way a soap bubble pops and leaves only moisture behind. And then it’s gone, and even that moisture is insufficient proof that it ever existed.

I remember those stories of olden days that I read as a child, of two young people who recognized something in one another when they met and were then separated by life circumstances. They parted, then, with a soft promise, followed by a long separation, perhaps of many years, without any more connection between them than the fading memory of their encounter and their promise. In those stories, they held faith across vast expanses of time until they were finally joined by life once again.

My first thought is that those stories do not describe me. I know how fickle I can be! I need reminders, reconnections, a gentle wind over red embers. I need that calling held before me continuously, palpably, in order not to fall back again into oblivion.

Or, maybe not?

Is it possible that the fading memory of my encounter with that energy, of the promises I fervently made in its presence are powerful enough to hold me up until life joins us once again?

Photo Credit: John Boyer

Photo Credit: John Boyer


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I Didn’t Blog

Even though today is supposed to be my day to blog, to take myself out of the daily busyness and be still, hear what my True Self has to say, I did not.

Today, thanks to the Polar Vortex, my children are home from school.  It feels hard to pull myself away from them, I want to take advantage of this gift of time together.

 So, instead of gazing at the white sky and the branches of the tree outside my window, or visiting those caves in the waters of my imagination, where I feel a Wise Crone lives inside of me, I do this with my daughter:

Photo by Andrea Friedmann

Photo by Andrea Friedmann

It is a jungle, with a river of water running through it. Chiqui teaches me how to make pompom trees with the glue gun and a pipe cleaner. I make a berry bush of tissue paper and Golondrino contributes a tinfoil canoe.  We scrounge up some plastic animals that survived numerous toy purges, and fashion a pipe cleaner snake. We string a vine across it, and hang a monkey from it.

There are a few squabbles as we work: should there or should there not be signs of humans, who tend to destroy nature. Tempers flare, my son stomps off at my daughters’ intransigence. We come back together again, everyone’s heart softens slightly, we all give in a little.

When we are through, we put the box in the sunlight and gaze at our work with pride. We’ve used up a few hours of this long day where outdoor play is not possible.

And I am surprised that I am feeling nourished, my heart is full, running over with love and gratitude, my energy light, warm, joyful.

This? This is better than blogging!


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Nothing To Be Done

My friend Isabel’s marriage of 20 years is ending.  My friend Danielle’s daughter is scheduled for major surgery which she direly needs. My friend Janine needs to do another test to see if cancer has returned to her body, only this time she is a widow with a young son to care for.  I could go on and on: another friend can’t find a job, yet another can’t conceive.

I could feel despair, because I love them, every one; because I wish I could do something to give them back the sense of certainty, comfort, that they used to have, that they yearn for.  At least, I wish I could do something that would make them feel all better, the way I did for my babies when they toppled and I stood them up, dusted them off and set them loose again with a kiss.  But I can’t. There’s nothing that I could do that would come even close to that.

Except, hold loving energy for each of them, see them as their brightest, most radiant selves, and, simply, be present to them.

I know this, because, when I have been drowning, breathless and scared, I could feel them doing it for me. Their presence created a modest, but vital, space for me to be able to take a deep breath and remember my Self.

Nothing changed. And yet, somehow, it did.  I was held, and that made all the difference.

Photo Credit: Muriel M Sawicki

Photo Credit: Muriel M Sawicki


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Another World

I stand on this familiar bridge, looking down through the spaces between the steel, at the place where it seems so recently I spotted a lone turtle swimming through the unnaturally green river water. At the time, I was surprised that anything could survive in there, and I can still feel the warmth of joy spilling through me at the realization. Not long after, as I paused on my way across the river, I saw a great blue heron poised at the water’s edge, still as a statue, unblinkingly observing the flow.

Today, as I look down, it is another world. There is no sign of the electric green water. No sign of birds or turtles. Looking through the steel grid, my stomach does not quiver, there is no inkling of the vertigo that comes of gazing into flowing currents from such heights. There is no sign of movement of any kind. There is only a thick crust of white ice.

It is another world: static, cold, hard.

I yearn to see movement, a turtle surfacing gracefully or a red leaf swirling in the flow. Instead, the only sign of life is the cloud of my own breath.

The hairs on my arm rise, under all the layers of clothes, as the wind rises against me. I cannot stay here any longer, searching.

As I turn away, I remind myself: if I wait long enough, the water will flow again, and the trees alongside it will grow leaves, and, if I am quiet, and patient, I will find wildlife here too.

Photo by Christine Landis

Photo by Christine Landis


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Transported

I lie in bed, sleepless, ill, waiting for daylight, or sleep, or for another fit of coughing. I cannot take in enough air to feel my center, to deepen and quiet my thoughts, to feel the stillness that clears my mind of petty thoughts and meanings.  I put my hands on my chest and call up Reiki, hoping for sleep, or rest, or comfort. I drift in the flow of it, warm.

There is a sudden fraction of a moment, a splinter of an instant in which I forget my body, my illness, my idea of myself.  In that sliver of a second, a sound comes to me, familiar, sweet —and not of this snowy place. I hear, briefly, the call of frogs in the darkness and I am instantaneously transported to the Finca of my childhood, to the unmistakable, lonely echo of night sounds lifting in the crisp air towards that endless black sky, punctured by starlight.

I can smell rich soil, the moisture it holds, and the scent of crushed grass on a breeze. Momentarily, I am quietude, stillness, I am unfathomable depth, timeless, endless, infinite—for one instant.

And then, as the awareness comes to me that I am here, in my bed, in this urban night, my heart creaks, cracks, opens with longing, with regret, with desire, to be there, again, to be that.

Photo Credit: Barun Patro

Photo Credit: Barun Patro


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A Reminder

Even though I work this way with others, I have not gone into retreat for a long, long time. I am inspired by the effect of retreating on those for whom I am companion and guide. But I forget how vital this work is for me.

I determine that it is time again, to go into retreat, in preparation for the turn of the year. As is to be expected, this feels inconvenient to do now, hard to find time for, requiring too much from me.  Still, I persevere, and sequester myself in silence, light my candles and bring out my rattle.

The past year floats under the glare of my gaze, and I rescue forgotten blessings, feel my heart tighten with unresolved pains and fears.  I honor all of the energies I find, witness them wholly.

In the smoke of the incense, I release what does not serve me, and feel lightened, heartened.

Then I remember, one last thing.

This year, too often, I have felt disconnected; disconnected from Nature, from the cycles of the year and my body, from awe and from what is sacred in my daily doings.  As this recognition comes to me, along with the question of how to release this large, heavy energy, a movement outside my window catches my eye.

It is a great bird, with powerful wings, gently coasting past, and my mind is slow to grasp, to process, to return to me: owl.  The bird alights in the high branches of a towering tree, the tree that I gaze on as I do my daily practices, the one that reminds me that trees are also my relations.

It can’t be an owl, I think. This is the city. It is broad daylight. Could it be?  The bird is still, imposing, enormous, unblinking. It is indisputably an owl.

My mind is startled into stillness. I remember the thought of disconnection and, immediately, a new thought arises: I could never be disconnected from Nature, from what is sacred, from my Self.

No sooner does this thought rise in my awareness, as the great owl takes flight and coasts away into the white sky, disappears from my view.

I could never be disconnected from my Self; Owl has come to remind me of it.

Photo Credit: Jay Simmons

Photo Credit: Jay Simmons