Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Origami Lifestyle

Life doesn't feel like a path or a road to me, well or not so well traveled. That image does not ring true in the Reyaverse. This existence seems nonlinear except in the realm of time. The shape and idea of walking labyrinths comes closer to describing what I've experienced in my 61 years as a part of the biosphere of the earth.

I just read an inspiring article about tidying as a dialogue with oneself. Here's a link to the article. Marie Condo is a superstar decluttering specialist in Japan. I love the way she thinks! Well worth a read.

One thing they mentioned in the article is the importance of folding in Japanese culture. It made me think about how, at least in the Reyaverse, life is an unfolding, refolding, and unfolding again. Sometimes the unfoldings lead to a dead end. At that point, we fold and fold some more. When we unfold again we're likely to find something completely different.

I'm reading an amazing book, They Called Me Mayer July, written by a man who grew up in a Polish shtletl, but moved to Canada in 1935. When he was 70, his daughters encouraged him to write about life in the shtetl. He taught himself to paint. His paintings are incredible. And the stories are fabulous. They remind me of the Yizkor memory book stories, gossipy and quirky. There is no sadness in the Mayer July stories, unlike the Yizkor books. He got out before the firestorm. He lived a completely different life than the people who stayed in Poland. It's a joyful book. Healing. I love it! I've also been listening to a lot of Chopin. It's a Polish theme unfolding at the chateau these days.

Fall is gorgeous in DC always, including this year. We've had great, perfect, Colorado weather. The leaves are slowly turning. Fall in DC is luxurious. I've been, you know, walking around, taking pictures, meeting friends for dinner, also working quite a bit, a great thing.

All of it is great. I was such a cynic when I was younger. These days I wake up grateful every day. Life is a precious unfolding and refolding. L'chaim!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Extreme 2014

Towards the end of the blood moon.

I remember on New Year's Day, wishing for a gentle year. That's all I wanted. Was it so much to ask?

2014 is not over yet, of course. Maybe the last quarter of the year will be gentle. May it be so? (she asked meekly)

I'm not complaining. 2014 has been a spectacular year in many ways. I went to Paris! I had a soul retrieval at the Eiffel Tower! I've had Mystical Experiences, Epiphanies, Revelations and Insights. And also I've made for myself a lot of seriously mundane space during which nothing that happened deserves to be capitalized.

So far, this has been a year of extremes. I like to delve deep into meaning, I like to spend time in contemplation. During years like 2014, there isn't time for all that before the next Big Thing occurs. The year has been like an intensive, an immersion course.

This year I've addressed a number of very deep, very old wounds. I didn't set out to do so, believe me! At age 61 my strategy is to let sleeping dogs lie as far as deep personal healing is concerned. I worked at it for decades before I realized I will never be able to address every one of my quirks, neuroses and wounds. For heaven's sake. I did what I could, which I believe is enough. Ten years on the couch, three decades of holistic healing ... I think I've fulfilled my lifetime quota of personal healing, don't you? I am content to leave well enough alone for the duration.

Ya know?

But the healing has come to me. Paris was one of the most healing experiences of my life. It was so uncomfortable! Likewise the High Holy Days just past. My goodness.

What happened the other day is that midday I suddenly had to lie down on the couch. I felt slightly dizzy - very unusual for me. In a slight doze, I sensed the spirit of my father apologizing to me. I accepted. It was deeply moving. Then suddenly I was wide awake, getting ready for clients. Whatever it was that happened, that I translated as the spirit of my father apologizing, was deeply healing. It went to the core of one big, ugly old scar.

After this Amazing Experience, I returned immediately to the completely mundane. Made an apple pie - really good - did all the laundry, paid a bill, put money in the bank. I'm working hard from now through the weekend, always a great thing. I love my work for so many reasons.

The teeter-totter of 2014 requires the extremes of mystical and mundane. All my years of practice are coming in handy this year. I am grateful.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Golden Years

In almost every way, I love being in my sixties. There's something wrong with every stage of life, but there are also unique gifts that accompany every personal era. The particulars change over the course of a human life, but it's always complicated, it surely is. I feel lucky that I've survived long enough to know this. It truly is a gift.

Of course, being in my sixties is daunting, as it is for everyone. Instead of planning ahead to the next big life project, it's time to begin winding things down. I'm not the first, nor will I be the last, struggling to figure out how to hold that truth comfortably. It's alarming.

That truth, though, helps me remember how precious life is. The Buddhists are 100% right on about that. People say let go, enjoy life, don't sweat the small stuff, etc. But to someone in their 30s, life IS the small stuff. Younger people should bump heads and strive and push hard and try to find their own private holy grail. In youth, one must sweat the small stuff. It builds character and is what forges the myths that accompany every life. It's so unfair to admonish the young about it. How can they hold the big picture? They're so busy with work and children and projects and adventures. For heaven's sake.

However, at sixty, we really can begin to let go. We no longer have to sweat the small stuff. At sixty, it's all about the big picture, it's only about the big picture. It is such a relief!

I've been thinking about the adage that says, at the end of life, people wish they had said YES more often than NO. I wish I'd said yes to many more possibilities, such as living in Paris for awhile during the 1970s, for instance. But there were plenty of fateful intersections where I said YES, when I wish I had said NO. I wish I had said no to my ex husband's proposal of marriage. My sister knew the correct response. She told me straight out not to marry him. But did I listen? Of course not! It's all water under the bridge now.

Still interesting to think about.

It's a beautiful fall day in Washington DC. I have the day off work and I am fully back to what passes for normal for me. I'm going to get out there. L'chaim, y'all.

See the moon?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Day of Atonement

It's an interesting paradox, being a mystic in Washington DC in the 21st century. Mysticism like mine is common throughout history, but in general we Washingtonians wish to address the world in more concrete terms. I'm a bit of a freak here. If I lived in Boulder or Savannah or Taos or any number of other places, my shamanic shenanigans would be seen as perfectly normal. I could go off the deep end as I did in San Francisco, another place where there's a niche for mystics.

But I'm here, which is a good thing. I really don't want to go off the deep end. I want to function in my culture. I like what my sister says about her own formidable mysticism. She wants it to be interesting, but not too interesting. I love that!

Sometimes the mystical experiences are few and far between, sometimes they come one after another. Like anything else, mysticism has a rhythm. It must be clear to anyone who has been visiting this page, this season has been a whopper for me.

Unlike the days of old, when my tendency was to tilt head first into the mystic, right now what I want more than anything is to lean away from all that. It's awesome and interesting, also a little scary, and too mysticism can quickly become a pathology as it has for many mystics throughout history. You have to walk the line.

I'm hoping that what happened to me Saturday and Sunday is the final episode in the High Holy Day experiences, the coup de grace. Maybe it be so!

I was sick Saturday morning, all of a sudden, out of the nowhere, really sick. I had multiple symptoms that would not be that interesting to mention. It was like a body-wide attack of everything. Meanwhile outside it was not only grey and rainy, but dark. The overcast was thick and pervasive. I spent 24 hours doing nothing but sleeping, drinking water and taking herbs, and - should admit - suffering.

There are so many ways I could look at this episode. The surface layer has to do most likely with a virus or bacterium, or in Chinese medicine, a pretty massive imbalance. OK. But there was more to it than that. Please don't ask me to explain how I know that.

Saturday into Sunday was my Day of Atonement. I did everything Jews are supposed to do on Yom Kippur: I prayed, shivered, felt awe and fear. I even fasted! That is so crazy, even I am amazed, and it happened to me.

Another story that could be told about what happened is that I took a journey to the underworld and battled a demon. My symptoms and especially the way most of them have, at this point, cleared up without medical intervention, describes a classic shamanic experience. Of course I don't want to be the kind of shaman who goes to the underworld and fights demons - who would want that, I mean really? Most of the time I am a diplomat shaman who acts as intermediary between the seen and unseen. I don't take it on, I try instead to open channels of connection to bring healing and wholeness.

This morning I was thinking about the lives of the saints - many of them developed horrible illnesses and suffered terribly, but then they died. I have prevailed, hence I am not saint material.

I knew that already!

I hope this most recent experience is the final chapter in this series of experiences. I have much to integrate. I'm weak from it all. Because I'm superstitious, I believe things happen in threes. I had the visitation from my father, the experience at the Holocaust Museum, and now this.

Hear ye, hear ye, oh great mysterious ones: I need time to recuperate and integrate. No more mystical experiences for awhile, ok? Please? I am flesh and blood and I wish to be sane. Thank you. Shalom.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I'm back

A big ole mystical experience such as I had last Thursday is somewhat like any other bender. It's an overload of something blissful and inspiring, something that humans only need a drop of from day to day. Rumi was correct: the life of the spirit is like wine. A glass of wine is great, but a whole bottle? Well. It happens sometimes, but takes awhile to get over.

Friday I worked all day, hence felt steady, but there was no doubt that the experience at the Holocaust Museum had impact. Everything seemed a little surreal all day. Saturday was the real Yom Kippur. I had the day off work and planned to attend services at the Hill Havurah. I know and adore many in that community, as well as Laurie, the community leader. When Saturday morning came around, though, my body would not take me to the services. It was very clear and as I always say, the body never lies. OK then. I took a nice walk, gazed at late season roses in the Botanic Garden. I also ran into some of my nearests and dearests at Eastern Market. We sat down and had good, lengthy visits, it wasn't just hello and goodbye. Fabulous.

OK then - not with the community I expected, but with community none-the-less. It was a day of extra divine light but not in the form I would have thought. So what else is new? I am a devout misfit, I surely am.

When I woke up Sunday I felt Perfectly Normal. It was a great feeling, something I hadn't tasted since before my father's visitation. The High Holy Days packed a wallop, I tell you. The feeling of mundane reality is always reassuring, especially to the animal of me. I was grateful, did good work on clients.

Monday was the numinous experience hangover. I've had worse energy hangovers but it wasn't pleasant. I had a slight headache centered around my third eye, felt queasy, and oy was I cranky! Just like a liquor hangover, the spiritual hangover surely is.

My energy has returned to normal. I am so relieved. Even the full moon, total eclipse, grand trine in fire situation overhead is not rocking my boat. I'm thinking today that all the practice I've had lately embracing the mundane has helped me form a more stable foundation. It's with happiness that I return to my pattern of walking, taking pictures, cooking, cleaning, seeing clients, listening to music, doing laundry and such.

Autumn is here and I am happy. Shalom.

by Li Po

From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me --
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly.
But still, for awhile, I had these friends
To cheer me through the end of spring.
I sang. The moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were born companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
...Shall good will ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the river of stars.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Holy Days

The Schtetl room at the Holocaust Museum.

When the idea came to me today to go to the Holocaust Museum, I didn't immediately get on board with it. I was involved in a convo with the Holy Grail, my beloved Abbott Suger's chalice, when the lightbulb above my head lit up. I was thinking about the conclusion of the Days of Awe, wondering how best to wrap up the powerful healing work of this year's holiday.

A trip to the Holocaust Museum is always a bit daunting, naturally, but after all the contact I've had with the ancestors this year, it made sense. First there was a dinner with old friends who suddenly began channeling my ancestors, complaining about the small portions they serve in restaurants. Believe me this is completely uncharacteristic of these guys who worry about every calorie and won't go to buffets because they're appalled by all the food. After that was the way too palpable visit from my father. A couple of days later, I was out at dinner with a friend when a waiter - not even our waiter - felt compelled to stop by the table and immediately begin laying out his family's Holocaust history. It was bizarre. I have no idea why he felt he should tell us everything, even the tattoo number of his grandfather. I'm sure he didn't see my tattoo. Even weirder - he was French. Crazy.

Throughout the High Holy Days, Holocaust related synchronicities have arisen every day. It has been off the charts, I tell you. The above: just a few examples.

I checked with my spirit guides before setting out for the museum.

Me: The Holocaust Museum - bad idea? 
Spirit Guides: If you're doing this to get rid of your ancestors, forget it. But if you want to pay your respects and strengthen your healing skills, especially for trauma, then by all means, go. 
Me: (secretly disappointed it wouldn't help me convince my ancestors to move along) Hmmm. OK.

In fact I had been hoping the ancestors would go away. They are cranky and relentless. I keep wondering what I should do for them. How can I help? It's bewildering.

Instead of marching straight over, I asked for signs. I wanted auguries. I wanted a confirmation or two or three. First I saw two park police on horses. We had a nice chat. Oh those magnificent animals. I felt this was a sign pointing to GO. Then I ran into one of the people who regularly hangs out at the table of good vibes at the coffee shop. I never see those people anywhere except on the Hill, but I did today right in front of the Smithsonian Castle. Another auspicious sign. I looked up, hoping for one more sign. At that very moment, Brother Sun came out from behind the clouds just enough to be visible but not blinding. Crepuscular rays streamed out from the clouds surrounding the sun, just like God in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Park Police horses. That's Delilah on the right, Big Mack on the left.

Brother Sun

OK. I went to the museum. I did not linger in the first part of the exhibit, the rise of Nazism. It was congested in there, even thought there are not many tourists in town. I went straight to the Auschwitz bunk, stopping only in the Shtetl room so I could gaze at all those beautiful portraits. You're not supposed to take pictures but I took just one, of that beautiful room.

Once inside the Auschwitz bunk, I closed my eyes to see if I could learn something I don't already know. In my mind's eye I saw Durga floating down into the room, on a horse I thought, instead of a lion. I heard the clanking of her weapons as she spread her many arms. The demon of fear sprinted around the bunk, trying to elude her. It even tried to scare her. The look on her face was calm and beneficent as she slit its throat. Then the room filled with a milky white light and I "heard" the 21 Taras speaking in harmonious, sing-song unison about the long life of the spirit. It was spooky and ethereal. When the mist faded, I sensed Kuan Yin saying, "Let go, let go, it's almost all over now, let go." It was a kind, melodic voice, like Laurie Anderson's.

I have no idea how long I stood there. A minute? An hour? I can not tell you.  I left immediately afterwards. I was done.

Unlike the visitation from my father, todays Extremely Powerful Mystical Experience felt gentle, even though it happened inside the Auschwitz bunk at the Holocaust Museum. How could I have ever imagined that? You can't make up this stuff.

Here's a funny thing. As I walked to the museum, I kept thinking, My God I am so Jewish! But once I had the vision, of goddesses and a bohisattva, I had to laugh. Nothing could be further from Judaism than to commune with goddesses. I find it very funny, I do.

What a crazy High Holy Days this is for me. Crazy with wonder and power.

I have the day off on Saturday, Yom Kippur. I may attend the Hill Havurah services, at least for awhile. Or maybe I'll do something else. When the first star appears Saturday night, in spite of the wonder of this year's holiday, I will feel relief. There is only so much awe I can bear in a 10 day period. Sheesh.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Perhaps due to my contrarian nature, I detest shopping. I don't even like internet shopping - I know - I'm a freak. One of the worst things about shopping is that I end up with more stuff which means I have to figure out where to put said stuff. I live in three rooms and though there is abundant closet space here, I prefer not to jam the storage space, from stem to stern, with so much stuff that I don't know what I have. It's bad feng shui.

Of course there are corners of my closets where a bunch of junk is stuffed in. I am a human after all.

One of my favorite things is getting rid of stuff. I find it liberating, exhilarating. When my head or heart is in a tangle, one of the most therapeutic activities, for me, is housework that includes at least a little culling.

Every year I look for a theme that runs through the work of the High Holy Days. One part of this year's theme has to do with a gentle culling. For instance, I unfriended a couple of people on FB who post dreadful hateful posts and leave completely inappropriate comments on my posts. I didn't know either of them - friends had recommended we connect over shared passions. But we didn't have enough in common to function as FB friends.

Unfriend. Unfriend. It felt so right.

After that I started going through my "Likes" list. Some of them I couldn't remember liking or cared nothing about.

Unlike. Unlike. Ahhhhh.

We're supposed to make amends during the Days of Awe, apologize for the mistakes we've made. Apology is a variety of culling, isn't it? It's an attempt to erase a hurtful moment, right? When I was younger, most years I felt it was necessary to offer lots and lots of apologies.

Either I've become a nicer person as I've gotten older or I am finally learning not to over-apologize at last. This year I made just one apology. (There is also such a thing as under-apologizing, of which I've been guilty at times.)

An apology has to be sincere. An apology must be offered without expectation that it will be accepted. Once offered, there is no need to repeat it. Repeated apologies lose their power; they flatten out and become insincere, manipulative. My spirit guides hate it when I do that.

Perhaps I forgive myself more easily these days, hence I no longer feel I must always apologize for everything. Who knows? A friend of mine said recently that those of us who didn't get the love and support we needed as children are easily shamed. True. But I may have grown out of that, or healed out of it. Interesting to think about.

There is so much wonder in getting older, there seriously is. We don't have to bang our heads against the wall anymore, or act out as much. It's an important part of early adulthood, all that head banging and bad behavior. It builds character, it is the stuff of being human. Inevitably, mistakes are made, after which apologies should be offered. After 60, we have enough character, thank you. At least I do. Or at least that is today's theory.

It's a lovely, rainy morning in Washington DC. The Days of Awe are winding down. It has been a really great holiday for me this year. I am content. Shalom.