Thursday, October 02, 2003
Hot Blog Alert!
Wanna find out what's so dang funny about leaving your glamorous job at Time magazine, your fabulous friends, your loving family, and moving to the wilds of Ohio with a new baby, an eleven-year old who has just discovered that girls are "hot", and a white-hot hunk of a boyfriend who just gave you a tractor as an engagement ring? Then go visit Kelly .
And if you would like to comment on anything you read here on Dating God, just click on the link below where it says "Comment" at the bottom of each posting . . .
posted by Katherine at 10/2/2003 02:10:40 PM
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Common Ordinary Goodness
I was driving home from teaching a class down in Mahwah a little bit ago and right outside of Suffern the traffic suddenly slowed and then stopped. Usually, a traffic jam has a sense of impatience to it - people honking or cutting in front of one another, a general sense of "this sucks" in the air. Tonight was different. There was something wondrous going on and I turned off the radio, rolled down the window to take it in.
As I got closer to where the traffic freed up again I could see cars pulled over to the side of the road, several people running across the road, a couple more directing traffic. I wondered if someone hadn't hit a deer or a dog and had pulled over to be with the animal, or was trying to save it. It didn't occur to me that a wreck had occurred until the overturned vehicle came into view.
It wasn't just upside down, it was practically inside out, and it couldn't have happened more than five or ten minutes prior. There were two people, one sitting, the other lying down, blood on a white sweatshirt, blood on faces, hands. There were another two people still in the wrecked vehicle. About a half dozen people attended to the people on the ground, to the ones still in the SUV.
The cars in front of me began to move a bit faster and my lane opened up, and I saw that a bunch of cars had pulled over to the side of the road. Literally dozen of cars, on both sides of the highway, had stopped. Were they calling the police? An ambulance? Surely they could see that with so many of them pulled over many people had already called for help?
A shiver of wonder hit me again, that feeling that something wondrous was occurring. Some of the people were getting out of their cars to run back to the accident, and as I drove past them as they ran in the opposite direction I could feel the source of the wonder: It was love.
I could feel the people pulled to the side of the road asking themselves: how can I help? I could feel the people running back to the accident gearing themselves up, focusing their energy outward, looking for where they could be of use, how they could help. I could feel my own energy, not as a gawking rubbernecker but as someone who in that second of recognition that love was very, very present felt my own energy expand and sweeten and flow back towards that vehicle, to the people who were in it, and the people who stopped to help. And I wasn't alone. I could feel the energy of the hundred or so of us all reaching back to lift, to comfort, to help.
And as I drove on, shivers of energy still moving up and down my body, I realized that there is so much love in the world, there is such goodness. The world is filled with horrors, both mundane and catastrophic, but there is also a balancing to that, a goodness, a sweetness that moves through the world, something inside of us that must reach out to help, that forgets about our own suffering and longs only to relieve the suffering of another.
And I remembered yesterday when I felt so torn apart, so bereft, and how my friend Kelly listened to me, and loved me, how she has listened to me and loved me again and again, no matter how broken I've been, how deep or dark the hole in which I sat. "There is such beauty inside of you," she said yesterday. "I wish you could see it." And I felt the reality of that, knowing that even as I couldn't feel my own beauty, Life allowed lovely Kelly to be my mirror so that I could see a different view of myself. Oh, thank god for Kelly . . .
And my friend Barbara's face came to mind, and I remembered how stealthily she takes care of me, with such elegant compassion that even as she is doing things for me, her help makes me feel strong, capable. And oh how we laugh, the top down on her convertible, disco blaring from the speakers, her ten year old son rolling his eyes as he shouts to us to please turn down the music . . . and we look at one another and laugh hysterically, feeling fabulous and alive and giddy and blessed . . .
And my friend Linda, who is a friend and a mentor and a piece of work and a never ending source of inspiration. We were in NYC a couple of weekends ago, walking up second avenue in the east village and she was trying to get me to see how my energy interacts with the energy of men and she has me doing these "exercises" where I ask men for directions to a restaurant and then she debriefs me and I'm getting all bent out of shape and not getting what she's trying to get me to see and then she turns to me and says: who's the bigger guy magnet, me or you? And without hesitation I say: you. (Because everywhere we go, men blow her kisses, allow her to pull out in traffic ahead of them, bow gallantly to let her pass, treat her with respect and care and adoration.) And she laughs and replies: I'm an overweight, middle-aged lady from Rockland County, so you tell me what the deal is with men. And I realize that it is her love of life, her love of men, her love of herself that radiates out into the world and these men can't help but radiate love back to her. And I realize what a gift it is to see her work her hysterical, funky, beautiful love on the world and how grateful I am to be reminded of where beauty lies . . .
And as I sit here writing this I see the faces of dozens more, people who say such wonderful things to me, who grace me with their trust, their time, their stories, their perceptions.
Yes, it is true that the world is filled with awful, awful things, that awful things happen, and that it often feels as if there is no way out. And it is true that every single one of us is alone. But when we are broken, there are always people to help, to be with us in our brokeness, our aloneness, we just have to be willing to reach out, to say, hey, I know you can't see the blood, the wreckage, but here's been a ten car pile up inside of me and I would really appreciate it if you would just hold my hand, just be with me til the bleeding slows down a little.
And as I write those words I see in my mind's eye the dozens and dozens of cars pulling to the side of the road, filled with friends running back to the scene of the accident asking themselves: how can I help? with nothing but love on their minds and in their hearts . . .
There is so much love in the world . . . we just have to be willing to let it in . . .
posted by Katherine at 10/1/2003 09:39:58 PM
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
What Is Up?
I started teaching a new class series a couple of weeks ago called Power Tools for Holistic Living. It’s a sort of holistic buffet, a way to learn a dozen basic skills for bringing holistic living into daily life. The first class covered some of the things that we’re going to be doing each week: exercises from chi gong, yoga, using the talking stick, smudging/saging, and meditation. This past week we made personal aromatherapy blends and put together individualized remedies using the Perelandra Rose/Nature/Garden/Soul Ray essences. And in the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at Feng Shui, energywork, developing intuition/psychic energies, herbs/food/fitness, and other tools to help establish a thorough and yet doable daily spiritual practice.
Teaching this class series is a big jump for me, not in terms of what I’m teaching but in terms of teaching it to others. For the past six years I’ve been running workshops and classes in feng shui, meditation, and holistic stress management, as well as the private sessions and consults with people. I’ve also been studying a lot of different things – herbs, nutrition, all sorts of aspects of holistic health and healing - as I work towards my degree in naturopathic medicine. And then there are the things that I do for my own health and well-being.
The Power Tools series is a combination of many of the things that I’ve incorporated into my own life, practical ways to keep the chaos of the world at bay and when that fails, to clean the chaos out of my body/mind/spirit. And teaching this class series means putting things in logical, understandable order, and creating handouts and exercises to teach them to others.
My favorite part of the class series are the attendees. I had assumed when I designed the class, that it would be filled by relative beginners to the holistic way of life, but instead, the group is actually well-informed and very knowledgable. They share the information that they have picked up and are also open to what I have discovered, and we all pass stuff around and we're all the better for it. Plus, we're laughing a lot, which I'm pretty sure is the most potent Holistic Power Tool of all . . .
And on the personal tools tip: one of my latest things is niacin flushes, which has a lot of mixed opinions, and depending on which book you read, is fabulous or not so fabulous. I've found it to be helpful, though in the moment it's pretty freaky. Large doses of niacin causes the body to "flush" which feels sort of like an intense internal sunburn. One of the things niacin does is improve circulation and evidence of this can be seen in the odd sunburny rash that covers my body for a half hour or so after taking it. I'm doing it as part of my ongoing detox, and has been helping. Last night, though, I had a dream where a woman walked up to me and said that I needed to stop taking it now, that it had served its purpose, and so I'll move on to the next thing. I think maca is next on the agenda, which is a Peruvian herb that helps balance the endocrine system and helps with PMS which has been kicking my butt again lately. I took it regularly a few years ago and my PMS completely disappeared, and so I'll give it another whirl . . .
Mostly, though, I continue to work with the abyss that opened up inside of me this past winter and continues to show me new aspects of itself on a pretty regular basis. I've been on intimate terms with this bottomless pit of ghosts for most of my life, but thought that I had made peace with my place in it, at least in a way that allowed me access to the sweetness, the love inside of me. But a series of things caused a huge shift where all sorts of illusions, things that I believed to be true, things that I counted on, to be revealed for the smoke and mirrors that they were.
I don't know why I'm reluctant to reveal what happened, or what has occurred because of that. It's probably fear of being judged. I know that who I was a year ago wouldn't understand what I am going through now and would most certainly judge it, and so I guess I assume that others will do the same. I also don't have a clear picture of what is going on with me, only that I face every day with this sense of everything being out of my control, of a knowing that no matter what I do, I can do nothing to change who I am, what I've become, who I'm becoming. And yet, I have so many tools that I know are true, and so every day I find a way to do something to use those tools: work out, do yoga, chi gong, meditate, write, read, go out into nature, take my herbs and vitamins, eat healthy food, get a massage. And some days ice cream and old Sex and The City reruns are the only tools I can remember how to use . . .
I am more alone than I have ever been in my life, and yet there is often a quietness to my living that is new. It isn't a peaceful quiet, or even a happy one, just a sense of silence. Considering how aggravating all the noise was, I would have thought silence would be lovely , but in reality it is just an absence of everything - nothing happening but the nothing. And it's actually pretty scary. You can’t imagine how dependant you’ve become on hearing things like: you’ll be okay, I love you, you are so beautiful – until the only thing you hear are the echos inside of your own head. That is really what the abyss is: the absense of everything solid so that the only thing you hear is the echo of your own perception of life, living, soul, meaning.
Whatever all this is, I'm pretty well locked into it. My friends and teachers are all on the outside looking in as if I were behind plexiglass. I can see their mouths moving but what they are saying makes no real sense to me. I am in this by myself.
I can still teach and do sessions, though this is more freaky too as its as if I were in front of the groups with no clothes on. Confidence, like many of my beliefs, have fallen away and I stand in front of clients not as the person of last year who knew what the heck was going on, how things worked, but as someone who is naked, human, frail.
People like their healers to be healed, but this is pure delusion. Our healers die of cancer, go bankrupt, get divorced, feel depressed, get the flu, display anger and sadness. And not knowing what to write next, I opened a book to a Rumi passage:
"You have a source inside you, a cool spring that sometimes
stops flowing, frozen
or clogged with silt. A voice says: Consider the situation
more deeply my friend.
Such advice is not idle. It is immediate companionship with
a soul artist like David,
who works iron until it melts and he can shape it. Spirit
is the art of making what's
blocked start moving again. When your body dies, give
it to the death angel,
Israfil. If your heart feels numb and metallic, walk out
into the sun, or whatever
the mystery is that makes *your* inner spring well up. There
was once a sage who felt
this flow moving inside him. As he walked the garden
that was being restored with
spring water, he gave names to aspects of the vital dance
he was doing: the animal's
hungry agility and the connoisseur's intelligent choice.
Blessings on Hakim
Sanai, who could put those two in one gesture!"
and as I read on:
"Prayer is an egg. Hatch out the total helplessness inside . . . "
And so as winter approaches I pray for thawing . . . and know it is better to give birth in the freezing cold than to not give birth at all . . .
I have spent the past twenty years training to attend my own birth and the tools of power that I wield are the tools of midwifery. How many times does a person have to be born before they get it right?
posted by Katherine at 9/30/2003 10:43:21 AM
Friday, September 12, 2003
What Does It Murmur?
Two weeks ago I found out that I have a heart murmur. It was during a routine visit for a gyn exam, and I was surprised when the nurse practitioner asked: so how long have you had a heart murmur?
Heart murmur? I asked. I don't have a heart murmur. I did have one when I was an infant. I was born two months premature and had to stay in an incubator for a couple of weeks, but it healed, my heart healed. Are you sure it's a heart murmur?
Yes. You have a heart murmur. It's very definite, very clear. You'll want to get it checked out, she said.
Well, I don't have insurance, and I'm willing to bet that a heart evaluation isn't going to be a $60 drop in visit at the local clinic.
Probably not, she said.
Hmmm. You're sure?
Yes, she answered.
What could have caused it? I asked her. I'm really fit, take good care of my body, work out, eat right, and I haven't noticed anything. How is it possible that I have a heart murmur and haven't known it?
What is a heart murmur anyway? What does it mean?
It means that your heart won't close completely, she said.
And when she said that - your heart won't close completely - I felt for a moment that I might pass out, or fall back on the table and sob. My heart won't close completely. It won't. It won't close. I know it won't because I've tried.
After the exam I did a lot of thinking about my heart - what it feels like, what it sounds like from the inside of me, the lub dub shoosh that I've been hearing for months now, the lub dub dub and the little skip that follows where I feel like I am, for just a second, falling falling falling down deep inside of myself before it stops and I find myself still standing in my life, still upright, still here.
But mostly I thought about how broken my heart was.
And it is broken, my heart. Broken, broken, broken. And not in big chunky pieces that can be neatly super glued back together, but in countless shards, tiny, some dull, others like the splinters of a mirror, the mess of it cobbled together using god knows what, pieces missing, left god knows where with god knows who, pieces I gave away and never got back, pieces that were taken from me when I fell for the old bait and switch, pieces that flew off and away into the world when I mistook my heart for a catherine wheel when it was really a bouncing betty. My heart.
I met a man last Saturday night at The Freestyle Frolic. A beautiful man. In amazement in the presense of so many humans being. Looking for his place in all of it. A little lost in his own life. A little wounded. Trying to put himself back together again. Finding new ways to fly, new ways to land. I met him five minutes after running into my ex-boyfriend for the first time in six months.
Running into my ex wasn't as painful as I'd thought it would be, considering how we left it. How we left it was sloppy and sad, full of half-truths and blame, judgments and sharp edges. There were many things to sort out between us but neither of us could manage to find even a tiny patch of heart to stand in that hadn't been already trampled flat by the ones that had been there before us. And so how we left it was unfinished. But when I saw him on Saturday night, when he walked past me, his "hello" harsh and brief, his face like a storm front, I felt something in me finally let go. I didn't feel angry. I didn't feel hurt. I just said hello and smiled at him and went back to putting on my shoes so that I could walk with my friend up to the port-a-potty on the hill.
And while I was waiting for my friend to finish up, the beautiful man walked up and started talking to me. We ended up talking a lot that night. Personal things. Sacred things. Things that you generally wait a few dates to spill the beans about. At one point, this man that I didn't know reached over and brushed the hair out of my face and it was so tender and right and I felt that he'd always been with me. He said things to me about myself that were so intuitive, so true, that they took my breath away. How did he know that about me? I asked myself. How could this man that I don't know know me so well?
So now its Friday. We were supposed to go out tonight. Tonight was going to be our first date. We've talked on the phone every night this week, made plans to meet in the city, eat dinner together, watch a movie down at the handball courts in the village, go to a dance. He was supposed to call me and let me know the time, he wasn't sure what his work was going to be like today, wasn't sure where we should meet. I was supposed to leave by 3:30 this afternoon so that I could beat rush hour traffic. But he didn't call.
I guess I could have called him, called to say - hey, what's up? - but I'd had small warning signs during our conversations the past few days, little signal flares that lit up those dark alleyways that harboured the ghosts of boyfriends past. And at 3:45 p.m. when the phone had still not rung, I realised why he seemed so familiar to me: I may not have known him for long, but I had been dating him all my life.
I sat in my little apartment and asked myself: how many more times are you going to ignore the warnings? How many more times are you going to allow yourself to get involved with a man that you know won't love you the way that you want, the way that you need? When are you going to realise that seeing the potential of someone's heart doesn't mean that they do, and certainly doesn't mean that they'll share your vision of a heart as a holy grail? And when was I going to stop searching for the holy grail in the heart of another? When was I going to just let go? When was I going to truly, genuinely, finally just let it all go?
And so I left my apartment and I ran errands, and went rollerblading, and when I finally spoke with the beautiful man at 6 p.m. and he asked if I still wanted to come see him I said: I think I'll pass. And after a hot bath filled with the scent of jasmine and lavendar, I curled up on the couch with the kitties and some cheese and crackers and a movie and a luscious ripe peach.
I wonder if I'm not being harsh, if I'm not simply acting out of fear, out of protection, an attempt to salvage those last few pieces of my poor shattered heart that still can hold a little reflection of the good, of the wondrous. But my heart can’t take any more careless blows from wounded men. Enough, please, yes, enough.
And as I sit here, my heart goes lub dub dub dub, lub dub shooshhhhhhh and I know that it is struggling, because it won't close, because it stays open, even in hell, and I place my hand over it and listen to its broken rhythm and whisper sweet things to it, and know that tonight, at least, this time, at least, I have shown it mercy and lovingkindness, really swooped in and white-knighted it, and that for tonight, at least, the holy grail is in good hands . . .
posted by Katherine at 9/12/2003 09:50:45 PM
The Two Wolves
(From an e mail sent to me by my sister . . .)
An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me... it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather "Which wolf will win, grandfather?"
The old Cherokee simply replied... "The one you feed."
posted by Katherine at 9/12/2003 12:44:28 PM
Friday, August 29, 2003
"Being nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight." e.e. cummings
posted by Katherine at 8/29/2003 12:05:05 PM
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Lalalala Life Goes On . . .
And so in a glorious funk I went over to have dinner at my friend Kelly's house. As evidenced from the last post, I was feeling a little depressed, a little hopeless/helpless, a little sad, and after I arrived I realized that I have also been in deep, deep denial over the fact that on Sunday morning Kelly moves to Ohio.
Kelly had a hard pregnancy, ending in a three week stay in the hospital followed by an emergency c-section. I spent several nights with her, spent many an hour helping her out around the house or running errands for her - really getting to know her on this very practical, simple, loving way of being of service to her, really getting to see that the friendship that we have is changing, has changed, and will continue to change as we grow older, as our lives shift.
Our dinner tonight fell into the familar groove that she and I have cultivated over the past six years. She is a marvelous cook and I have become adept as her sous chef, table setter, and dish washer. As she made this wonderful portabello mushroom, sausage, tomato sauce with wild rice, I made us a salad and we chatted and went back and forth to Lila, now almost six weeks old, who was hanging out in the bedroom alternately sleeping and making cooing/hooting/wailing noises.
Lila nursed a lot (Kelly and I laughed at how her breasts have become this commonplace thing that she whips out in the middle of a conversation) and then got progressively more fussy, so Kelly gave her a bath and I played assistant some more, just for the joy of watching that sweet baby trying to figure out of she *loved* the lavendar water or *hated* it. But mostly I just was quiet and watched this unfolding of quiet moments of mom and baby going through their nightly routine, of gingery almond oil being rubbed into little baby fat rolls and a dimply heiny, of a wash cloth being swished around as little baby wisps of hair curled and dampened, of seeing the looks of utter absorption in sweet love that radiated from my friend's face as she looked upon the face of her sweet girl.
I also got several lessons in life tonight. This world is truly a wild ride and it certainly is also a bumpy one, and no one escapes this. I watched as this pure little being had gas so intense and smelly that I vowed never again to judge myself for the foods that I eat. I watched as she struggled and cried simply from the discomfort of wanting to nurse but not wanting the milk, from wanting to sleep, but having her tummy hurt, from feeling too warm, then feeling chilled. On and on goes the suffering, and then it shifts and all is well, there is a breast or a warm hand rubbing her back, a soft voice cooing in her ear, a gentle furry kitty that snuggles up to her and purrs with total acceptance into her face.
Everything changes . . . life flows on . . . and the priviledge of spending time being sweet, and gentle, and easy with another somehow, at least for this moment, and then this moment, and then this one, makes it all okay . . . it doesn't take excitement, just the willingness to relax into the loveliness, the lusciousness of the ordinary . . .
posted by Katherine at 8/13/2003 09:24:51 PM
Earlier this afternoon: On and on and on and on and on . . .
I have to laugh when I look back twenty years ago at the reasons I started in on the whole holistic/spiritual/metaphysical trip. I thought that it would make me a better person, and that that would bring me more money, a better life, and a wonderful life partner. Little did I know that I would never reach the goal because even the mere concept of a journey was way off the mark . . .
A few months ago I went through a very painful breakup (is there any other kind?) and nearly lost my mind when I came to the realization that I haven't grown, that there is no "growth", only more awareness around who I am, how I behave, and on good days, more compassion around myself for it. I realized that I still live a variation on the same kind of life I always have, still choose the same sort of man, and probably always will. The only thing that seems to change is this continual letting go tiny bit by tiny bit of my dramatic reactions to their behavior and more and more forgiveness for how profoundly confused we all are.
Sound pessimistic? Perhaps. But its the only answer I can come up with for having worked so hard the past twenty years and still remaining my same old mixed up self. Sure, I don't drink any more, or drug, (unless you count my current addiction to spelt bread :) and I have amassed a tremendous amount of knowledge around tools for changing energy, mood, and supporting good health but am I more joyful in my life? For all of my knowledge and struggle, am I more at ease in my own skin? For all of the working out and meditation and herb taking and clean eating I do, am I healthier? I don't know how to answer that anymore. . . I only know that the good in life passes, but also that if I hang in there long enough, the bad passes on through, too. . .
posted by Katherine at 8/13/2003 04:51:40 PM