I am cheating a bit in today’s blog post. I am posting an old piece of writing. This writing appeared in me at a silent writing and meditation workshop with Natalie Goldberg in 2001. The writing did more than just appear. It inspired a series of drawings that became a show. And it told me what my work is for the rest of my life. Love. Draw. Write.
There was a nurse who, through a friend, asked if she could have a copy of this writing. I delayed answering, and delayed, and delayed, and never did reply. I regret this now. I have forgotten her name.
Whoever you are, wherever you are now, I am sending this out for you. I hope you see it, print it off, share it if you wish. I am sorry I never replied and shared this with you. My heart was not big enough then. It is now.
I am a contrary. The society and material world I live in tries to tell me all is divided, labelled, specified, separate. It tries to say I am separate from you, from the water I drink, from Raven chuckling in the fir outside my window, from the ground I walk on, from the rough grey stone I hold in my hand.
Not so. I see, I know, I feel all life, this world, everything as one whole being, one energy, constantly connected, breathing one breath, all flow.
I am a contrary. The material world tries to teach me to see only polarities, black and white, either-or.
But I see pattern, illumination, both-and. I see richness and range. As a child growing up and as an adult living in an either-or world, I remain knowing I am the stars, the sky, the earth water wind, the grey stone, Raven, the fir tree. I am, and we are, both-and.
I am glad I am a contrary. Because of this, I know all is one. I get to see the one whole beauty underneath all of the pieces of this divided material world. I get to see the beauty and the heart living within each person I meet.
I get to see the hearts each of us carries. I don’t just mean the unique shining heart each of us is. I mean every one of us is covered with hearts, all sizes and every colour, one pinned onto us by each person who loves us. We move through life covered, carried, loved, connected by all these hearts.
If I stand still for a moment, become quiet, feel my feet on the ground and the breath in my body, if I stop thinking and let the quiet settle me, I can feel all the love I stand within.
It takes very little to pin my heart to someone else. A passing smile, a pause to give another my place in line. A please. A thank you. A hand to help. Acknowledgement. Connection. Kindness. Only a moment, and now we carry each other’s heart pinned onto us.
I never run out of hearts to pin onto others. I never run out of room for others to pin their hearts onto me. ‘Only this much’ does not apply to the heart.
How do I know this?
From a friend I love. I see her through the eyes of my heart and spirit. I see her energy covered with hearts, layer upon layer. There she stands, a tall aspen in full summer leaf. Held in love.
This is what carries all of us through our lives. Love. Offered. Gifted. Accepted. Shared.
I am glad I am a contrary. I get to see and feel and know that this material world, insistently telling me it is divided, is really connected by hearts, layer upon layer upon layer, all pinned on with love.
What is an experience? Is it something you have? Or is it something that has you?
I love this big question. It comes from Lynda Barry’s book ‘What It Is’. Page 22 if you want to go take a look. Better yet, take a loooooong look starting from the front cover and don’t stop till you reach the back cover. Yes, I love this book and I love Lynda for creating it and sharing it with all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lynda and Sea-Ma and the Magic Cephalopod and the Near-sighted Monkey and all your friends.
What is an experience? What is joy? Because that is what I am experiencing right now. I am discovering joy all over the place. In me. Outside of me. Outside of me moving to the inside of me. I could say that I am having joy, I am experiencing it.
The truer answer would be that joy is having me.
It has poured into me, is still pouring into me with no sign of stopping.
I am engulfed by it.
How did I do this? Did I do this? Or is this a gift, an opening and allowing that I created? Did I send an invitation to joy? Come and play, I said? I must have, because joy is here, has moved in, and I have invited her to stay.
Joy has me. I am walking in joy. Breathing, talking, writing, creating in joy.
The Diné (Navajo) people speak and pray of walking in beauty. In balance, honour, joy, love, connection with the Universe and life. This is what is happening for me. I say joy because this is the uppermost feeling, but here also are love, honour, balance, connection, life.
I can’t define joy, but I know how it feels.
Thank you. I accept.
And because I accept this gift of joy, I now get to share it with you. Emotions are contagious. I see how my joy sparks joy in the people around me. I love that. Then their joy sparks joy in the people they connect with. I love that too. It just keeps expanding. We all get to walk in joy.
My heart and spirit know there is no cost to accepting this gift of joy. No price, no trade, no bargain I have to make. There is no having to pay or balance this joy with an equal gift of sorrow.
It is all a choice. My choice. Your choice.
There is no guilt in accepting joy. Your choice of being joy adds joy to the whole world. Remember, emotions are contagious. We all get to share joy with you.
Say yes. Accept the gift, be it joy, or love, or happiness. Know you are worthy of this gift. Know you are worthy, beautiful, holy, love, and loved. Now. Always.
There is a scene in the movie ‘Shrek’ that I remember. Shrek talks with Donkey about ogres having layers like onions. I’d say that Shrek got it right about the layers, and it applies to people as well as ogres.
I repeatedly learn that my discoveries about myself, my beliefs, and so on, have layers. I have discovered a new layer, so now I have a Part 2 to my post of two weeks ago ‘There is something right with me’.
Every morning I choose that I am perfectly healthy, and I choose that I love myself unconditionally. I use Dee Wallace’s Red Dot Exercise, and I pour all my love into my physical body. I feel love flash and spark its way through me, become a mix of both love and pure brilliant joy. I use this as my meditation, focus on feeling without words, without thought. Just resting here, myself loving myself. And then I get up, put my meditation cushion away, and go about my day. I do this because, even though my body has healed from fibromyalgia, my mind is still healing.
It is while I am doing my going-about-my-day stuff that I discover a new layer to my old belief that there is always something wrong with my body.
I am loving my body, but I am not trusting my body.
I know that, for me, love automatically includes trust. So what is this division I have created? I can love my body, but I cannot trust it. What is it that I am not trusting about my body?
I trust that my body is healthy now. But. I don’t trust my body to stay healthy. I don’t trust that my body will not get sick again. I don’t mean sick like getting a cold. I mean a long sick, like getting fibromyalgia again, or getting cancer.
I know where this is coming from. Whenever I watch TV, I see ads for all kinds of prescription drugs. I always feel like they are whispering fear to me—you might get sick again. I am so new to not taking prescriptions at all (yay me!), that I am still adjusting to knowing I am well, my body is well, I AM HEALTHY. I feel good, but I have to get used to this new pattern of thinking and knowing and believing. It has to become just as much a part of me as the I-am-sick pattern was.
I am working on it, becoming my new pattern of I-am-healthy. I am playing with it, creating it. I have moved the feeling of love into my body. Now I need to move the feeling of trust in as well.
What do I trust about my body right now?
I love to walk. I know, without thinking, that my feet and legs hold strength and carry me wherever I need and want to walk or run or skip or climb. This knowing is trust.
This is a beginning. I will start here. Feel love in my body for my strong legs. Feel the steady knowing touch of my feet on the earth as I walk. Feel the rhythm and roll of my legs and hips, one step becoming the next, the next, the next without division or stutter, moving me across space and through time. Movement, balance. Breath in my body and the sound of my heart. I sing the body electric. Surely this is what the writer and poet Walt Whitman knew when he wrote those words. This is what trust in my body feels like.
This is the feeling I am looking for.
Love and trust in my walking body, in breath and beat, pleasure in movement, fills all of me without effort. This feeling memory—I choose this. Well, whole, perfectly healthy. I choose this. I know this. I trust this.
My beautiful body, walk with me.
See the December 24th post for ‘The Red Dot Exercise’.
My resources page is now up for anyone who is curious about who I am learning from. Everyone and everything listed on this page has helped me heal and become whole. Some you might connect with, some you might not.
Jennifer McLean’s ‘Healing With the Masters’ webcast series is a great place to start. She talks with healers, teachers, light workers, scientists, business people–all whose work is heart-centered. The series is free and an excellent resource for discovering who and what you connect to, one of the reasons why I say that Jennifer is generosity personified. This is where I started when I began healing the fibromyalgia. Find the series at healingwiththemasters.com. Thanks, Jennifer!
In yesterday’s post ‘Start with joy’, I write about finding joy in my physical connection to an image of beauty, to water and earth, and to a memory of myself at three years old.
For me, the process of finding a healing memory is intuitive. I trust that I can recall all of my life, and that I can use what I recall to bring myself to wholeness and health. The type of emotions in the memory make no difference, whether my head is judging them comfortable or painful. I choose to use all of my life in this healing.
This takes love. In the process of ‘I Remember’, the love I use can be for anything. It can be for a person, an animal, a place, a toy, a pair of shoes. Love is connection, and gives somewhere to begin. The point is the feeling, and the stronger it is, the better. Love includes trust and acceptance. It allows me to trust and accept the process I am doing, my memories, and myself.
This is what I do.
I choose a space where I feel comfortable, safe, and private. Most often, I use my studio where I write and draw. My studio is my heart and my nest. It is filled with things I love, that make me feel happy and inspired—toys from my childhood, favourite books, handmade gifts from family and friends, photographs. These things are play, beauty, and heart.
A quiet atmosphere is necessary. It is vital that I hear only my inner voice during this process. I close the door. My family is used to this now, but initially it took some training for all of us. I learned to know that I am worthy of time alone with myself, and my family learned that my temporary absence would not create disaster. They understand not to interrupt me or disturb my privacy. I use earplugs or relaxing music to mask any noise in the house. This allows me to focus.
Friday morning I wake with an image of butterflies resting all along my open hands, my arms, shoulders, the top of my head. Think yellow, rich, warm, and bright. Think wings, a forest of them, some still, some moving gently.
Even now as I write days later, I see this, and the joy I felt then I feel now. It expands within me, from my heart out to my fingertips, down through the soles of my feet, up through the crown of my head. Such an unexpected gift, this image and the joy that it gives.
The gift is how this makes me feel, body, head, heart, and spirit. It moves me into joy, into love, into peace and balance, without effort. I recall the image and I am changed, now.
It reminds me how there are other gifts in my life that create shifts for me. They are the memories I have, some just a flash of a person or place I love, others long and detailed that fill my senses and draw me whole.
Memories heal me when I allow them that power. It is a memory, one of the long detailed ones, that has brought my body back into healing after fibromyalgia had drained it and flattened my life.
Let me tell you a story about water and earth, body and joy.
Start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.
I wake early this morning, with these words running through my mind. They are the opening lines to the song Do Re Mi (Doe A Deer) from the movie ‘The Sound of Music’. Yes, Julie Andrews singing me awake.
Then I think about knowing things, and not knowing things, and beginner’s mind, and how much I prefer to Know (yes, capital K). So much for going back to sleep at this point. My mind is awake and already playing. I decide to let my mind play, and see what shows up.
The Zen Buddhist Master Shunryu Suzuki taught beginner’s mind. The book ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind’ is a collection of his talks. I have read it a few times. Some of it I understand. Some of it baffles me. Every time I read it, the parts that I understand and the parts that baffle me change. I am a different person each time I read this book, years passing between one reading and the next. The part that always sticks with me, and that I always understand, is beginner’s mind.
Beginner’s mind is essential for me. It is where I am when I create my drawings and when I write these words you are reading. I cannot be a creator without it.
When I am in beginner’s mind, I am present, aware of my body, my thoughts, my feelings, my environment. I am HERE. My mind is open, receptive, allowing of whatever comes. I find it interesting that I can be like this when I am creating, because this is not my usual way of being.