shaking my fist at god

It’s been a tough time lately.

The Global Youth Peace Summit was amazing and also incredibly challenging on many levels. I can’t even quite explain it, to tell the truth. But in the two weeks since it ended, I’ve spent a lot of time alone (nothing new there) and I’ve been pretty depressed. I have been weaving all kinds of stories about what people think of me and what a fucked up person I am. And although I know that these are not true, that in fact these same people like and even love  me very much, and in fact I’m not fucked up at all, I’ve found it really hard to get out of the story.

In addition, I’ve hardly had any work lately, because my company just doesn’t have any work to give me, and since I’m paid a very good hourly wage but not salary, if I don’t have work, I don’t get paid. It also gives me WAY too much time alone. And when I’m alone, I get depressed. The one just sort of follows the other.

The time after the Summit is generally tough for everyone involved. The village that we create there is a powerful space of love, acceptance and healing for everyone, no matter what role they play or how they show up. It just happens. And leaving it is generally hard and can often be a letdown. It’s kind of like what happens for many people after Christmas. This year I had hoped that since I live in Austin now, it would not be as hard. In fact, I think it’s been the hardest post-summit experience yet.

I find that I’m embarrassed about what’s been going on for me and resistant to blogging about it. However, at the same time, I feel incredibly pulled to do so. In fact, I even started a new blog the other day, just so I could shout out without reservation how I feel and what I’m going through.

But, since I made a commitment a while ago on this blog to not hold back anymore, and to reveal the “deep, dark shit,” and also because something in me tells me that this is part of my service and what I have to offer the world, I’m going to write about it here. Basically, when things get bad, I hate myself. I honestly truly HATE myself. I think that I am a terrible person and that I really don’t deserve to be here. I think that other people don’t care about me. I think that I should not have come here to Austin, that the people at Amala Foundation don’t want me here, that they wish I would leave.

I think of past arguments with random people and past situations that were hard and I get stuck obsessing on those situations also.

I think about being single and that there is something innately ugly about me and that is why I’m single. I think about how hard it has been for me to do work in general, and how much I procrastinate, and how I don’t stay focused on creating photographs and writings, and it spirals into a truly ugly internal put-down session. It is just insane. Truly. Insane.

The thing is, I know this stuff isn’t true. I KNOW IT’S NOT. But I can’t believe that when I’m in it. I just get sucked down, like it’s a huge deep-ocean whirlpool from some 50s horror movie.

Let me say this, also, the good news: It’s shifting. I’m climbing out. I went to a volunteer appreciation thing at Amala last night. It was sweet. We did a sacred pipe ceremony (native american style) and then had a talking circle where we passed the talking stick. One of my friends and I went together and we both have been feeling very depressed and horrible and we both spoke up during talking circle. It was great to just say out loud in that community: “I am doing terribly, I hate myself, I think you all hate me, I don’t know who I am or why I’m here,” and then just pass the stick! It was awesome to do that, actually.

I truly didn’t want people to come up and get all huggy with me after, and people were very sensitive and kind in that way, but I felt a lot of love sent to me without direct contact. I did get a bit of very solid loving feedback from some people I feel very comfortable with, and then someone else who I respect and care about immensely, and was one of the people I had really convinced myself did not like me anymore, sat and talked with me for a while. He’s so real and so sweet and was very solidly rooted in knowing that everything that was happening is FOR me and not TO me, and that it’s all serving my evolution. As soon as he said that, I knew it was true. And I also realized that he indeed still cares about me and likes me, and that nothing at all was wrong.

Then I spent some more time today with someone else I care about a lot but who I have stories about that cause me pain. We had a sweet conversation as well, and we just kind of roundabout got into some of these stories I have made up. As we talked, I again realized that all my stories were missing big huge chunks of information and that when those were filled in, then the whole story shifted and my confusion was evident. Which felt fantastically freeing.

So, now, I feel like things are on a more even keel. I pulled a tarot card from the Osho Zen Tarot deck (online) and it was “Trust.”

“Trust life. If you trust, only then can you drop your knowledge, only then can you put your mind aside. And with trust, something immense opens up. Then this life is no longer ordinary life, it becomes full of God, overflowing.”

That resonated so fully and completely.

this is me today

Oh and the reason I named my post “shaking my fist at god” is because I’ve been fully doing that lately. If you know me, you know that the god of my understanding is simply the universe, all that is, the pattern and love that underlies, permeates, creates, sustains and destroys all that is. Generally, I cultivate trust that the life unfolding is the exact right life for me. But this past week in the deepest muck of this darkness, I have denied and resisted, shouted and sworn, “why have you forsaken me?” And it felt like an important part of whatever this process is. To just say, NO, God! WHY ME, God? Fuck you, God!

and now…the other side of the mountain…the downhill side. for a while. [like the old Donovan song: “first there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is”]

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Austin Loves Me

Wow…that’s all I can say.

Austin has welcomed me. I am finding my way around, internally as well as externally. The slideshow below is a collection of photos from the land/farm where I’m living til the end of July (house/dog/cat sitting while my friend, Emily, explores India). It has been good to me, except the scorpions in the house were a bit much. But I (with regret) asked the landlord to spray the outside of the house, which he did, and so far it’s working.

I have found a place to live permanently, once Emily returns. It is in the SW part of Austin, in a cool neighborhood kind of tucked away and surrounded on 3 sides by the greenbelt! I can walk right onto hiking trails. This is my dream come true. I will be close to the Amala Foundation office/center, Barton Springs pool, and to everything cool in South Austin.

Totally groovy details:

  • It’s a 1/1 duplex, totally brand new, being renovated right now from the garage of a house.
  • Next door in the 3/1 main house will be my friend, Seva, and her two daughters aged 10 and 12. Built-in community, family style.
  • Our landlord, Paul, is uber cool and is including my input into the renovation. He is also giving me: washer/dryer (hookups INSIDE the unit), bed, big table to use as desk, three chairs, 2 huge bookshelves…and other things but I can’t even remember what because I’m still in shock.
  • The rent is exactly what I paid in Santa Cruz, although utilities might be more. Place is probably 3x as big, though.
  • Unit has a high-tech, efficient, brand new AC/heating unit that also purifies the air and is quiet.

I am perhaps most importantly finding my center here. In a whole new way. I feel set free, agreed with, supported to create and live entirely for the soul. To continue to deepen into what that means.

In the mornings, I sit and write. I am processing photographs and beginning to post them online. Exploring options for a website, and for making some of my photos available for sale. Why not, right?

More than anything, I am beginning to feel at home in this world. In alignment. Not needing something from outside; connecting to all I need on the inside. Blessed to be alive.

Austin

Ahhhh. I arrived in Austin yesterday. It is beyond surprising to be here. I can’t quite explain it. But, being as this is a blog, I will try. Best I can do is a shorthand version…

Leave santa cruz in a blur on the evening of June 1.

Spend weekend in oakland, seeing old friends, catching up.

Whirlwind 2-night trip to Willits (northern CA) for work.

Then back down to Moraga for 2-night visit to other old friends, one of whom just was diagnosed with a brain tumor, only to learn that she has to have immediate brain surgery and my 2 day visit turns into week long which is absolutely beautiful and blessed and she makes it thru surgery and is ok; tumor is benign; she’s recovering in rehab, and so I

hit the road on Thursday, June 14 and it’s a grueling and emotional journey across the desert (which I’ve crossed each summer by myself in both directions for the past two years already, swearing I will never do it alone again, yet here I find myself, alone again, drained and exhausted and not sure what I am doing or why I left or what I’m driving to…).

Arrive in Austin on Monday afternoon. Emily’s house in the country just outside of town, cicadas’ orchestral roar surrounding me, swelling and waning, the air conditioning in the house keeping my brain temperature from reaching dangerous highs, a good-bye potluck for Emily happens and I’m suddenly surrounded by 20-somethings.

This morning, Tuesday, Emily packs her bags, we make a list of when and what to feed Jed the dog and Bessie the cat. I wave to her as she pulls away from the tilting 1-bedroom farmhouse that will be my home for the next 5 weeks and collapse onto the couch.

I’m here. My heart is beating. I’m alive. I’m in Texas. I don’t know how anything is going to look.

Bring it.

massive change

In April I spent 10 days on the big island of Hawaii, in retreat with Vanessa Stone and 8 amazing friends. It was a truly heart- and mind-opening experience.

I am not going to write about the experience, not specifically and not here and now. But I will say that I left and returned home to Santa Cruz with some pretty clear realizations:

1. I want to and am ready to move to Austin, TX. To be near Vanessa Stone and her work with the Amala Foundation. To become more a part of that amazing organization and its humanitarian projects. And to simply reach out, broaden my horizons, welcome the world in.

2. I am not any longer interested in spending time worrying or analyzing. I am 100% committed to what is offered, to looking and seeing what is in front of me. To following the living map of my life, on a daily, hourly, breath-by-breath basis.

3. My foundation is my relationship to the core of my being, which I choose to call “God” or spirit, the absolute, pure love, the beloved. And that is where I will look for all guidance. Not outward. Not anymore.

So…I immediately was offered a place to stay in Austin for 6 weeks in June/July, for free, to housesit. My boss told me that he wants me to keep working for them (I already work remotely). I gave notice at my wonderful cottage by the creek. I’m finishing up this semester of school (mostly in the darkroom!), getting rid of all my stuff (again!) and hitting the road on June 11.

To say I am EXCITED would be a massive understatement.

At the Carnival Part Two

A few weeks back I posted a few photos from this carnival in Oakland. I was on my way home to Santa Cruz from a memorial service and feeling very sad…the sky was dramatic, threatening, and somehow extremely precious and loving.

This is the second installment of photos. Eventually, there should be one more. Click any photo to open a gallery you can scroll through.

All That’s Left

It’s late. Later than usual, for me. Outside, the full moon transits over my house. And yours. Everyone’s house is covered by the moonlight tonight.

I sit at this desk, in this house, typing on this keyboard. There is a sudden clarity, a clear light, a relief. Miraculous, instantaneous. I am ok.

It sounds like a 70s self-help book. But it’s not. It’s just the lifting of darkness, the rising of the moon, the startling recognition of the simplicity of being. When the sun went down, I was confused. Now, in the middle of the night, that confusion has melted and all that’s left is all that is. Moonrise. Sunset.

Letting the days go by, water flowing underground. Into the blue again, in the silent water.