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You are what your deep, driving desire is.

As is your desire, so is your will.

As your will is, so is your deed.

As your deed is, so is your destiny.

(Brihadaranyaka Upanishad)

Lore states that it takes at least twenty-one continuous days of an activity to form a habit, or to break one.

I started in on two very important re-commitments this past week – my daily Reiki practice and daily meditation. I’m four days into my twenty-one days on the daily Reiki practice, and three days into the daily meditation – and it feels GOOD.

One of the meditations this week included the above quote from the Vedic wisdom texts, the Upanishads. It tugged at me, and pulled at me, and kept gnawing on the corners of my thoughts like an insistent puppy.

Desire – I have shied away from this word. We’re taught that it’s wanton to feel desire. That it’s naughty. What garbage. I’m reclaiming it – and I’m going to start viewing these things I’m trying to implement, grow, and change in my life as desires…ones I’m capable of fulfilling.

Desire is so much more positive, so much more vital, visceral, and vibrant than ‘want.’ Desire makes me think more of actively getting something, whereas ‘want’ makes me think of ‘lack’ and feels depriving. It’s a mind game – but not so different from the hundreds of other ones I trip myself through every day.

So, here’s to knowing what I desire, and being willing to discover more along the way. Here’s to knowing that I have the power to create it in my life, to bring it into being. Here’s to being full of desire, and the passion to pursue it.

 

 

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Musing, (C) Caia Koopman

When I was at Mount Mary College studying and learning and growing and climbing Mount Everest-like peaks of educational heights, I met some truly interesting and influential people. I’ve always wanted to write a series of blogs honoring them, and the gifts that they gave me. I will, someday.

Today, though, I started thinking about one particular gal who I met and became friends with on that leg of the journey. I met Jen (her name’s common enough, so I’m not changing it – names have power & I prefer to use real ones whenever possible…) in one of our mutual English classes. We had a LOT in common, and hit it off fast and famously.

Speedy chats before and after class quickly segued into the two of us perched into the wee hours on the wooden Adirondack chairs, weathered and worn smooth with age and use, tucked beneath the sheltering eaves of a hidden nook near the back of the college.

We laughed until our faces hurt and our sides ached. We mused and pondered and what-if-ed our lives. We solved the world’s problems, and railed against its injustices.

We formed a sisterhood. In the long shadow of an edifice built for permanency, we transformed for flight. The chill of fall gave way to winter’s bite, and winter relaxed its iron fist and softened into the sultriness of spring. We sat, young and strong and foolhardy, full of our own beauty and importance and invulnerability, and dreamt and talked and worried and ranted.

And Jen graduated, and fell into doing what new graduates do – wonder if they’ve made the right choices, look for gainful employ, and rediscover reading for pleasure. And I continued to run up that hill and take classes and bury my nose in books, while the ashes of my failing marriage swirled around me. And days bled into weeks and weeks into months, and I missed the sister I’d discovered.

One day, I went out to the mailbox, and there, hidden amongst the dross of bills and residential mailers was a sparkling gem – a letter from Jen. She wrote to tell me that she was leaving, shaking the dust from her boots and the Wisconsin chill from her bones, to go to film school in California. Because of me, because of what I’d said to her.

I sat at my kitchen table, the epicenter of my volatile life, and held that note before me for a long time – an unlooked for beam of light in an otherwise gray day. And I thought, “But, what did I say?”

To this day, I have no idea what it was that I said in the long, continuing conversation of that friendship that lit a fire in her belly and whetted both her longing and resolve for fulfillment. I remember wishing that day, that someone would say something like that to me – something that would eat at my complacency and vault me into action. Eventually, many someones did – eventually, I was able to tell myself the right things in the right moments, too, spurring me to action.

The power of that experience stayed with me. I remain in awe of it – that something I didn’t even clearly remember saying could burrow into another person’s mind, effecting changes I could never have foreseen.

And it makes me wonder how many intrepid souls set out to sea, or crossed mountain ranges, or slayed dragons – literally or figuratively – because someone, somewhere, said something to them. Something that captured their imagination, something that seized them, that caught hold of them and wouldn’t shake loose.

And it made me realize how powerfully we affect one another without ever being aware of it. It made me realize the power of the ideas we share, the power of longing and passion to infect the human heart with desire.

I wonder about her now and again, whether she went on to glory in California, or disaster. I wonder if she’d recognize me now – a phoenix risen many times over from the ashes of the life I light ablaze and burn to cinders around me.

And I’m grateful to her – because while something I said sent her haring off in search of her destiny – something she said taught me a lesson: We are each more important than we can ever know, and that while our legacies are often unseen, intangible, and unheralded, they change the landscape, raze mountains, and alter the course of rivers – with only a word spoken gently into the ear ripe to hear it.

 

 

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. (Samuel Ullman)

If that’s true, I’ll never have a wrinkly soul. To my delight (and sometimes to my chagrin), one of the ways that people tend to describe me to someone I haven’t met yet is thus: “Carolyn? Well, she’s, um…enthusiastic.” Like a terrier (which is what they kindly leave off).

When I was a little girl, I truly remember thinking that life was going to be way too short to do all that I hoped to, to feel all that I longed to, to take part in all that I dreamed of. The result was that I ate life up with two spoons instead of one, and gobbled all that I could, whenever I could. When I start to recount where I’ve been and how I came to be standing in front of a newer friend, invariably, they say, “Just how old are you?”

Good. That means that I’ve crammed a lot in there. And all of it was fueled by enthusiasm. It was fueled by gusto. It was fueled by passion, longing, desire, and interest.

I’ve found that with each passing year, there are two things I’m most grateful for. The first is that with age, comes a refining of where I want to spend that currency. Even I possess finite amounts of energy, vigor and enthusiasm (even though I don’t like to admit it), and I become less and less inclined to waste it on things that don’t inflame me, invigorate me, invest back in me, and intrigue me. The second is that I am infinitely grateful for whatever that year held – even if it’s not right away.

I would not change a moment of what I’ve done, what I’ve said, what I’ve chosen. Not even the ugly ones, because some of them have led to the most unanticipated and beautiful outcomes.

So today is another birthday. And I’ll celebrate it in my usual fashion – quietly and without a lot of fuss. I’ll look forward to eating dinner at my folks’ on Sunday (the usual request – spaghetti and meatballs and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting). And I’ll make some wishes and dream some dreams.

I wish that the coming year is

Joyful

Full of new friends

Deepens relationships with treasured friends

Brings me wisdom

Brings me two scoops of life for every one I have requested

Full of passion and enthusiasm

Just as beautiful as every year that’s come before, and every year I hope to follow.

Mostly, every year I wish that I never stop loving life. I wish that I am never weary of people – but that I continue to be endlessly fascinated by them. I wish that each experience deepens me in some way. I wish that all the joy, sorrow and triumph of my days leaves its mark on my spirit. I wish for a life that is round and full and burgeoning. And, I wish to remember that (in the immortal wisdom of the Stones): You can’t always get what you want, and if you try sometimes you find you get what you need.

 

My MoonCircle soul collage, "Luscious Flow"

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music. (Angela Monet) 

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote to the realization that I’d spent the majority of my life actively working to sterilize myself (metaphorically, and somewhat literally). It wasn’t until this bend on my path – and the discovery of my creative self, and my inner, passionate and unrestrained soul – that I was able to see clearly what all of my perfectionism was working so hard to achieve – utter and complete annihilation of my ‘messy’ emotional self.

If there is no great passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you, and BECAUSE of you. (T. Alan Armstrong)

One of the major struggles of my life has been to embrace and rejoice in my femininity. From my earliest memories onward, I greeted and engaged life with a very masculine approach. And, I was very good at it – I very ably ‘wore the pants’ and was better at being the head of household than most men. I was a go-getter, I was assertive, I was forward and direct. I was a very capable linear and rational thinker. I was raised to be my father’s ‘little buddy,’ and in many ways, I was expected to fulfill the role of the ‘eldest son.’ My female self was subjugated, made small – my womanhood was stifled and denied.

My emotionality, my femininity, my creativity, my passion were locked deep in the darkest corner of my heart. I allowed them release in my private journals, or in the bedroom, or in poems I never showed to anyone. I allowed myself to experience the power of them seldomly, and with purpose and control.

We all need to look into the dark side of our nature – that’s where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we’re busy denying. (Sue Grafton)

Smothering those elemental energies is a recipe for combustion – passion is not meant to be kept confined. Deep within, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before one of two things happened – my passions rode free, or I managed to kill them completely.

When I started coming to Three Sisters’ Spirit over a year ago, I sought Reiki training – a modality that is all about bringing balance to the body, emotions, mentality, and spirit. I know, with bone-deep certainty, that my path to becoming a Reiki Master Teacher has been essential in freeing those trapped parts of myself. Reiki has been absolutely instrumental in helping me to find and seek balance for all the parts of myself.

I also started attending the MoonCircle groups facilitated by Dani. I showed up hungry for something I could not name. I found a God who looked like me, felt like me, breathed and sang and danced like me. I found a way to see myself in my own Divinity. I discovered the power, the beauty, and the passion that resides in the Goddess of the trinity. I was able to make the final leap from rejecting a male god, and rebelling against my upbringing (which left me alone, yowling, and bereft in the desert of the Dark Night) to finding a spirituality and conception of God that I could embrace (and one which embraced me back).

Tonight I attended another MoonCircle group. I am a lot further along my path now than I was when Dani first handed me the manna for which I hungered. Lately, I find myself welcoming and helping other women feel at ease in our circle. I am coming full circle. Full. Circle. (Beautiful, beautiful). I have become a handmaiden to the priestess. I have become a Eucharistic minister, of sorts.

I wish that I could say that my appreciation for my woman-self came rushing back to me with trumpets and flames and joy and accolades. It didn’t. I always say that you can choose to do a thing with grace, or you can kick and scream and be dragged along to your fate. Because some things are fated – and we just choose the manner of our acquiescence.

It was more of a slow blossoming – a process that I feel now is really just starting. I had to get past the fear of showing the world my own beautifully messy soul. I had to get past and over the idea that to be feminine is to be weak. I had to discover in minutes and miles the grace, power, and transformative energy of stepping into my woman-self. I had to allow my passion to leak out at the corners, slowly and almost imperceptible. I had to let it dip its toes into the waves, before I could open the floodgates.

There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life. (Frederico Fellini)

I am coming to a plateau – in the best of possible ways. I really feel that I am coming to a place where I can allow and encourage my masculine and feminine selves to exist in equality within me. I am arriving at the place where I can enjoy my own formidable nature – when I exhibit it with masculine tendencies (for me, very lingual) or with a feminine manner (which I am still discovering).

I want to get to the place where I can wear my luscious, passionate, juicy woman-self on my sleeve and let the world see and marvel at it – without a single trace of shame and fear. I will get there. Now that I’ve opened the doors to the inner sanctum, and experienced how good it feels, I know there is no going back – only forward, into the mystery. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, God).

Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot. (D. H. Lawrence)

Tonight, we gathered in a circle of women. We set the sacred space. We shared our women-stories. We held one another in the grace of the moment. We knew we were safe here. Cherished, and admired and celebrated. That’s part of what MoonCircle is about. Another part, especially for me, is allowing all of that to come into being – to find expression – in our lives (especially this month, with the new moon in Gemini).

We made Soul Collages, clipping hurriedly the things that caught our eye. Snipping bits of sentences, and cutting carefully around the images that spoke to us. I decided to share mine here on my blog – because I can look at this expression, this song of my soul, and rejoice.

Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping…waiting…and though unwanted…unbidden…it will stir…open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us…guides us…passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love…the clarity of hatred…and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace…but we would be hollow…Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.  (Joss Whedon)

"Luscious Flow" 9 June 2010

 

My Soul Collage Poem:

In with the good

Delight at the serenity

Room to grow.

The surprising life,

Some relationships are meant to be.

I write my own magical name,

It’s nature’s secret.

It is a(n)

Evocative, unique,

Truly original

Life.

 
 
 

The cover of my soul-art-book.

 

The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. (Alan Alda)

Any creative venture is like an expedition into the unknown. You might designate a leader, and they might lob some direction at you, but you are the one navigating trackless jungles and jumping willingly into pits to discover whether they’re bottomless or not.

When I was in high school, I took every art class that they offered. I sensed, then, that there was something within me that wanted OUT, that wanted expression, that defied the words I was so comfortable with. When I got to college, I took art survey (history, essentially) instead. Somewhere along the way, I decided that to engage the part of myself which hungered for expression was dangerous. I retreated into safety, and into language – safe.

The first page.

Writing can be dangerous – but for me, facility with language always came so easily. I encouraged the logical-mental functions of it, and left others to explore the wildfires and sandstorms it could create. I kept it small, so that I could control it.

Lately, that hunger has been resurfacing. I almost couldn’t name it, I hadn’t let myself feel it in such a long time. Last night, I gathered around a table with other women who sought to enter the realm of juicy creativity. Our guide, Tracy, laid the tools for the journey out on the table and we slavered over them, eager to begin.

I jumped in – I played. I didn’t think too hard, I shut up the inner critic (for whom, nothing is ever good enough). God, I enjoyed myself. I felt giddy!

You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star. (Frederich Nietzsche)

I’ve been on a spiritual quest since before I had words to understand what it was I sought. And along the way, I’ve avoided my own dark heart. I’ve shunned my shadow, and I’ve spent an awful lot of time attempting to rub clean all the places I felt messy.

Second page -- a paper created by our guide Tracy.

I spent a lot of time, essentially, sterilizing myself. (Pardon me – I’m having a moment right now, letting that statement sink in. I don’t think I knew I felt that way until I wrote that just now, this minute).

Third Page.

I’ve spent so much time afraid of my own passion – passion can warm your bones, or burn you to cinders. That unpredictability? It just didn’t jive with my need to perfect everything. To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. (Joseph Chilton Pierce) I’ve written about my perfectionism on this blog. I’ve talked about how I know it’s slow death. I just think I forgot what I was allowing it to kill. Until last night. Until I played. Until I showed up, and let go, and just played.

Fourth Page

 

 

All the times I’d written a poem with true emotionality, I hid it. I don’t think I wanted anyone to know that I could be so out of control. That’s the other part of last night that was so important – the sharing. To sit in a circle, and to each draw out from ourselves some beautifully messy part of our souls, and put it down on paper, and share it with one another.

Fifth page.

I am so excited about this, you’d think I’d created the next Mona Lisa. Maybe not to anyone else’s eyes, but for me, this was monumental. This was the tip of the iceberg, and I’m diving deeper next time. I’m committing to it – to myself, to my creativity, to my wild and dark beating heart, to my murky emotions and my human frailty.

Sixth page

This morning, I took pictures of all the pages I’d created last night (I need to practice with the bloody camera. I really hate technology sometimes – I apologize for the cruddy quality of the pics). I decided to post them on here – to “finish” slaying the dragon by drawing it out of the darkness, and sharing it with the world. And, not caring what anyone thinks of it – only that I love it, and I feel impassioned and eager to finish this project and embark on the next expedition. To dip into my soul’s chaos, and give birth to whatever comes.

Seventh Page

Eighth page.

 

Back Cover.

Come have a look through my kaleidoscope eyes. Come walk with me, as I make my way down the Path of Mastery (complete with fits and starts and pitstops and potholes). Our very impermanence is what makes us burn so brightly, and struggle so valiantly, and feel so deeply – it’s what makes us seize the day, and the moment. Come in, settle in, share a moment with me.

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"Who are YOU?" said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." (Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5)