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Miracles on my Journey to the World Domination Summit

Miracle #1

It's four weeks before the World Domination Summit.  I've been dreaming for a year, waiting for months, saving for the ticket to Portland, Oregon I am about to buy.  There is absolutely no practical reason I should be spending on a ticket or a trip but I try to forget practicality and groceries  and kids' shoes because I want my life to be so much bigger, I need to go further than this day to day.  I have dreams.  I have plans.

Our still-hyper two-year old puppy so wants to run into the big wide world beyond the leash, beyond the fenced-in yard.  She grew up on a farm after all.  Oh, how I understand her yearning to be free.  She gets out one day as the kids come in from school and I hear the car wheels screech on our busy street, see her tossed like some ragdoll across the road, move forward to pick her up, sick knot in my stomach.

The kids and I wait at the emergency vet hospital, nervous.  I know the plane ticket money is the only extra I have.  I am grateful I have it, even more grateful when the vet comes to tell us our beloved dog is just fine.

We call her superdog, the cat-dog with nine lives,  shed tears and swear it's a miracle.  But I know Imma need another one soon if I want to get to Portland.

Miracle #2

I give it up to the Universe, throw up both my hands, and hope I can pull off making up the savings to get the ticket.  I get another job working 2 nights a week teaching music lessons, half goes to the babysitter.  I answer an ad on Craigslist and sell buttons at political rallies, I even tell the customers that of course I support their candidate, not the other guy, throw up in my mouth a little.  I tell myself I can hustle.  I look for a third job.

I go to the food shelf because I don't have enough $ after bills for groceries this week or last week or next week.  I remember I am so grateful for a list of things that goes on forever and this too shall pass and when my son says Mommy are we poor? I say we are rich in all the ways it matters because we have so much love.  And that's the fucking truth.

WDS is now only a couple of weeks away.  My best friend calls, the only person in my life who knows how important this trip is to me because it represents freedom, adventure, service, and he says you are still going, right?  I say I don't think so.

I swallow my fear and ask for a loan from a close family member.  I cross my fingers.  He says yes, but that I won't need to pay him back.  I jump up and down and cry.  I'm gonna make it.

Miracle #3

I step on the plane in CMH en route to PDX.  Even as I am boarding I cross my fingers that nothing stops me from taking off.  I know all too well that at any time I may have to surrender to the overarching call of motherhood.

Miracle #4

Portland is a revelation.  The weather is perfect.

I'm staying at a hostel, which I haven't done since I was backpacking in Europe during college, and I am loving every second of it even though I manage to contract a nasty lung infection on my trip (and surely keep all 5 other people awake all night in my room with my snoring).  Nothing can bring me down at this point.  Every moment, every speaker inspires, motivates, and activates me.  I am surrounded by people who are saying YES to life.

It is a magnificent whirlwind and every minute worthwhile, but I can't be more surprised when we are presented with the $100 Investment.

Because I have been dreaming about how I can make a bigger contribution to the world, and how can I as a single mom with meager resources and daunting responsibilities?

But now here I am charged with this $100 bill and I know it is slated for just this purpose.  I won't touch it, not even if the dog gets hit by a car again (which, by the way would be the 3rd time).

Not until I know it will multiply 1,000-fold to bring greater freedom, adventure, and service to my family's life and the lives of many others.  And you better believe I am thinking about how I can help empower other single moms not only to get food on the table but also to believe in themselves, to remember that miracles exist everyday, and sometimes, yes, our dreams come true too.

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In the Aftermath of Divorce, an Unexpected Sisterhood

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1bcQMCZ5gU] It was a slow unraveling while inside the tapestry but in reality it was rapid, just a few short months.  Once he moved out I realized I couldn' t keep up with the chores involved in a wood-heated 5-bedroom farmhouse and maintain my full time job, mothering, and my sanity.  Not to mention the bills would be too much for me to handle now while paying child support to him.

Even though I knew it to be inevitable, it was hard to imagine downsizing.  We had dreamed of buying this gorgeous home on  20 acres, even signed a contract.  I loved the quiet of the country and the space.  We had picked up a new puppy just a week before I asked for a divorce.  I loved running each day on the back roads and watching the kids play for hours in the yard on the trampoline, skidding up and down the long country driveway.  Friends came to play and the children adored their home too.  It was idyllic.  It was part of a larger dream that had crumbled.

Eventually I realized that liberation would rise like a bird in the wake of letting go, and so downsize I did.

I moved with the kids into a small 2-bedroom ranch duplex one block from where I worked.  We were 4 blocks from the elementary school and one block from the daycare they attended afterschool.  No more stoking the woodstove at 5 am and 10 pm to stay warm and survive in the frigid Wisconsin winter, no more hauling kindling from the yard and firewood from the deck in my robe and gloves.  All I had to do was push the button on the thermostat and it was warm.  It made sense.  I could actually afford it, and the lifestyle would be much easier.  Here the kids shared a room and our furniture was sparse, and I slept on a single bed for the first time since college.

On the other side of the house was an aquaintance, a single mom whom I had met months before through work and had coffee with a couple of times while the kids and dogs played.  She was almost ten years younger yet had been raising her daughter on her own for five years already without much support to speak of.  She had fled the city after an abusive relationship, lost a job then found another, and hers was one of the most stressful jobs one could possibly have as a mother, in child protective services.  I admired her strength and tenacity, her faith in herself and her ability to keep going under more stress than I had ever known.  She had already learned how to reach out and ask for help, even from people she hardly knew like myself--it meant survival.  The night I kept her daughter after school last minute when she transported a child to detention far away I was amazed she asked and I was glad to help.  I didn't know then just how much she would eventually help me, and the many ways her friendship buoyed me in that ocean of uncertainty for months to come.

Within a short time after I moved in we were cooking meals together, having wine on our shared back patio late nights after the kids went to sleep, and I found she had a shoulder I could cry on.  The friendship we formed took the sting out of the loneliness of raising my kids on my own, and if I needed to run to the store or work late, I knew I could count on her.  We laughed until tears streamed down our faces and watched bad reality T.V. together.  We connected in a way I had never experienced before, and within the four short months we lived next to each other I swear she saved me.

Soon she would be married for the first time and so happy.  I watched her realize a dream she had had for so many years and find a man who would erase the bad memories and disappointments of her past relationships, a man whom she could finally trust.  When my kids and I moved away to Ohio we both cried, and I realized for the first time that what we had given each other was a community amongst ourselves when we needed it most .

Now she has a new baby and we talk less on the phone, I know she is enjoying her sleepless nights and her beautiful new family.  But that's okay with me.  We got through to the other side by holding hands and laughing, emerged anew as sisters who helped each other shine. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGJuMBdaqIw]

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The Year of the Water Dragon

  • The Year of the Water Dragon

    Photo by Oimax

    I have a very special relationship to a certain water dragon, I wrote about it all here, and I am inspired to dive into the water and journey with this awesome creature again this year.  Sometimes all we need is a powerful symbol or nighttime dream to catalyse our movement again.  There will a be a lot of motion, water flows uninhibited this year, and I for one am stoked for the wild ride.

    Today I plan on cleaning up some old business to make way for the new.  I will be freshening up the sacred spaces in my heart and my home to make room for my dreams to move in with their stunning surprises.  I don't know just what they will look like but I want to welcome them all the same.  Below  are some ways you can follow along with the celebration yourself.

    Special thanks to my dreaming friend Anna who reminded me of this important celebration of Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist new year on February 22 which ushers in the Year of the Water Dragon. Traditional (Tibetan) celebrations begin on February 19 and end two weeks after February 22.

    The Year of the Water Dragon  is a time when powerful forces will culminate to transform our reality. We can use this time to make great changes, dismanteling destructive habit patterns in order to estabish greater virtue and wellbeing. Or, if we are not prepared, the forces may overwhelm us and create chaos and upheaval. Tibetan astrology offers great insight into the forces at work as well as the elemental forces at play.

    February 19 is dedicated to cleaning the house, in particular one's personal shrine or altar. This is the time to clean out the clutter in one's home, get rid of things one does not need, and especially giving one's shrine a thorough cleaning. Removing any last vestiges of the old year's residue, making way for renewed energy and potential.

    February 20 - performing rituals to cleanse negativity

    February 21 - decorating and beautifying one's house, preparing goodies to eat and drink.

    February 22 - celebrating with friends.

    The first two weeks of the new year - known as the moon's rising time - are considered especially auspicious for undertaking any new activity, particularly practice and retreat. New business ventures, marriages, travel, etc., etc., are favored at this time.

    Will you be celebrating Losar?  How will you clean house to make way for the Year of the Water Dragon?  Let me know in the comments!

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The Purpose of Fog, or When to Leave a Bad Relationship

When to leave a bad relationship When he calls, her heart flutters.  And it also sinks.  He swept her away. Away from many things she dares not think of.  And into a whirlpool of other things she dares not mention.

Life has been easier since she stopped talking to him, since it ended.  Her walk is lighter, the days are clearer, and happiness erupts lightly from simple moments.

And yet the urge to hear his voice is overbearing, like the need to smoke a cigarette--nagging, nagging, nagging until you finally relent and take a drag.  When you are jonesing, virtually nothing can stop you from finding your fix.

It's the heart sinking part she doesn't pay attention to, though she should. She pushes it aside and answers anyway, just to feel that feeling one more time.  One more hit.  Maybe this time it will be different.

I miss you baby.  Come back to me, he says.  I've changed.

You know she's heard this before.  Too many times to count.  He says he loves her so much it makes him crazy, makes him do stupid things.  Hurtful things.  But only because he loves her that much.  Only because he can't live without her.

It's so foggy here.  Let me make it up to you.  Give me ONE MORE CHANCE.

The chances could go on forever.  She feels herself slipping.  Her head gets heavy with her heart, she listens to him talk and feels the arm of their fucked up past pulling her down.  He is a sweet talker, her favorite kind.  Funny and smoothe and sexy.  She is sliding in the gravel of his empty promises.

Her best friend says he doesn't get to treat you that way. Her sister says he is such a loser, I thought you already moved on, stop talking to him.  Her girlfriend says I'm sick of hearing about it.

Why does the heart sometimes gravitate towards this foggy road?  Why not take the high road, above the mist?

Have you ever experienced this or watched someone go through it?  Let me know in the comments and feel free to share on facebook or twitter.

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The Heart of the Matter

It's hard to imagine that a year ago I was living in northern Wisconsin in a spacious 5-bedroom farmhouse on 20 acres of pristine land.  We were visited by coyotes and black bears and foxes and too many deer to count.  The kids spent hours on the trampoline outside the patio door, chasing the new puppy up and down the long gravel driveway, wading through the creek that ran just feet from the back of the house. That farmhouse seems like a distant dream now, though I haven't thought much of it nor looked back to reflect on the decisions that led up to leaving it.  Life sped up, our little world shifted, and we rode like hell to try and keep up with the turn of events that I myself had set in motion. I had a dream one night that I was singing into a microphone that was strung to the top of a giant tree.  Three of my students were singing with me and when it came to my solo I was surprised to find that I didn't hold back at all, I belted with everything I had as if it were my show, not theirs.  When I woke I struggled to find the song in the foggy waters of my waking mind, but later in the day the song came to me, and once I found it I couldn't stop singing it:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I5d6pa3EcE?rel=0]

When I leapt into the unknown, finally honoring the empty ache in my heart where something had been lost for a long, long time, it didn't matter anymore what surrounded me or how many bedrooms I had.

What mattered was coming alive.

There are conventional and condemning views of what I did, leaving my marriage in the time and the ways that I did, and those are exactly the same views which had kept me confined for so long in a place that shut down my heart.  I imagine that when you wake from a big sleep, there is a lot that needs to be sorted.  You've aged.  Your muscles may have atrophied, and in my case I lost a sense of strength that had previously defined and informed me.

When you are sleeping, your loved ones hurt.  They miss you, they wait for you to wake up. When my father was in a coma for 3 months, every day was a cloud of emotions and prayer.

One afternoon a year ago I spoke candidly with my best friend about my choices.  After all, we have led virtually parallel lives at times, sometimes running ahead or behind but always finishing together.  His words couldn't have hit home more when he said "You're back. I feel like I got my friend back."  He was right.

When you wake up, your loved ones hurt.  

There is no way that I could deny then or now that my awakening caused pain in my loved ones.  My little family was taken apart, though without too much screaming or slamming of doors or fighting over custody.  It was relatively calm, mature, and business-like.  Nonetheless, when I took my son to counseling and she asked him what he wished his life could look like if he could have it any way he wanted, he said "Mom and Dad, me and my sister, back at the farmhouse." And that is the heartbreaking reality a parent faces when divorcing.

My children have gone through more than just the divorce and moving over the past year.  Their dad has been seriously ill on top of everything else.  But even through all of that, I know that what I did in following my heart's desire was the only thing that would wake me up.

When Dad woke up he had to relearn everything.  How to speak, how to write, how to eat.  It has been a mix of grief for me and my siblings since, having our once dynamic and charismatic father become an almost entirely new person, living with traumatic brain injuries.

I've been relearning too.  Even before the upheaval, I knew that forgiveness would be required.  I knew I would most of all need to forgive myself for the pain it would cause my little family, and that was the scariest part.

Now my kids and I reside in 2 bedrooms in my sister's house and I can count the number of possessions we own fairly quickly.  We live in a metropolitan area where instead of a creek running by, it's a freight train every 20 minutes.  Even as I write this I have a huge grin on my face.  Because I am so happy that sometimes I burst out in song.  Because I can laugh with my kids and give them so much of this happiness I have found.  Because I love what life is becoming.

From the outside it may seem to others that so much has been lost.  Yet if you peered into my chest, opened it up and looked into its crystal clear well, you would see that it is deep and full.

Finding our bliss sometimes means making very difficult choices and jumping the canyon we've been skirting once and for all.

Even if we hurt the ones we love.  Even if they never forgive us.

Even if it takes a lifetime to forgive ourselves.

Are you in need of support around your divorce?  

What if divorce were an opportunity to discover and claim the truest parts of yourself?

What if you had a friend who wrote you every day reminding you that you are not alone?

What if your children needed to see you this way to know what courage looks like?

What if you had a place to tell your stories with other divorced and divorcing mothers?

What if divorce were actually a bridge to your hopeful future?

What if there were an affordable way to care for yourself for the next year?

You are not alone.

Join me in having a Hopeful Divorce--click below for more info:

hopeful divorce: field notes from a friend

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Comfort Food

"Safety" by Lisa Kattenbraker

Nothing about this past year has been comfortable.

No, it's been divorce, family illness, the smack in the face of single motherhood, and to add insult to injury, I gained about 10 f-ing pounds!

I have bawled my eyes out more than I ever remember. I have been confronted with challenges I never knew I could face.

And you know what?

It's AWESOME.

In the midst of it all I feel a welling of joy, tiny moments of bliss, snapshots of the beauty of life.  Like the smell of my children's hair when I kiss them goodnight.  The re-connection with my innermost self.  The arms of my family welcoming me home to comfort me.

There is great liberation in starting over.

Even after a long-hard stab at a certain recipe, we can always return to our comfort food.

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Learning to Heal Toxic Thoughts

About a month ago now I moved almost 1000 miles with my 2 kids and our dog, bringing with us to Ohio only what we could fit in our Toyota Matrix wagon.  Almost all of our furniture and goods we donated to another single mom who had just moved out of the local women's shelter and into an apartment of her own.  As I helped her load her van with most of our collected household items, I knew that each little piece of possessions would be cherished and utilized, and each dollar she saved by receiving these things was going to go to feed and clothe her family.  I saw the survival in her eyes, and I was glad to be a part of hers, though I may not have been able to convey that I truly understood. I quit a well-paying job, left a community of beloved friends, even passed up a music opportunity I'd been waiting on for almost a dozen years, all because I knew that at this difficult time in life it would be better to be near family.  Better for me and my kids.

All of this change has left me reeling.  Stripped of possessions and things and a place to call my own, I am left to contemplate the directions my life is taking, the choices I am making.  Fear rears its head and inside my mind a litany of toxic thoughts takes up residence.  They tell me I am no good, ugly, fat, poor, a failure, a bad mom,washed up, the black sheep . . . on and on.

Add to that the insult of a terrible back injury and my monkey mind went to town creating a toxic web of traps.

After about a week of that I decided it was time to take action and turn them around.  Luckily I stumbled upon an author who addresses this common issue with compassion and good solid advice.  I have been reading "How to Heal Toxic Thoughts" by Sandra Ingerman by way of my dream teacher, Robert Moss.  Thankfully with a little vigilance and repetition, the negative thoughts are getting easier to tame.

Another powerful method I used, thanks to Robert's teachings, was simply asking my dreams to assist me.  Basically it means that before sleeping I ask for the answer to a particular problem to come by way of my dreams.  Sometimes, more often than not, it requires multiple nights of requesting before any light is shed, but this issue came clear in a couple of nights, and sometimes the problem is solved by the dreaming, leaving me free of the issue altogether in the morning and after.

How do your dreams help you?  Has there been a significant healing dream in your life?

P.S. I will tell you about that dream in my next post . . . in the meantime I am enjoying the beautiful retreat pictured above, a literal paradise in Ohio, Blue Heron Farm.

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Leap and the net will appear?

This is me starting where I should.  Leaping.  Hoping that something will catch my fall and trusting the process regardless.  The stars are in my favor these days, or so they say, so I am trusting the powers that be to guide me through the unknown. I resigned from my soul-sucking job 2 days ago and I have exactly 5 days left.  Then it's summer.  I signed up for The Hustle Project with money I won't have much longer but I am going to give this blog thing I have been wishing for for over 8 years a try.  My resistance has kept me in a holding pattern for long enough, and I am going to go for it this summer.

I have to.

When you live in pain you have a lot of time to dream about what you wish you were doing.  Listen up.

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