i, cedar.

my face pressed deeply into her bark,
cheek and lips distorted.
her surface is softness and jagged edges.
underneath, she bleeds red.
(like we do)
i’m surrounded by people…
for a moment in time,
completely alone.
entwined.
branches growing instead of toes.
leaves in place of teeth.
sinew forced out by seed.
i smell of sap and musk and earth,
of pepper and dampness and moss.
her woody arms wrap around me.
she whispers sweetness,
heart to heart.
when there is gratitude,
she says,
the universe is limitless in her abundance.

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sourced here

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The Time Before Goodbye

5 and 1/3 years: that’s how long my feet have walked the streets of this particular town. 3 houses, 1 home: this is where my occasionally weary, sometimes happy body has rested, or at least tried to. 50 months, so far: this is the length of time I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of an amazing community of yogis in the sweetness of a studio I get to call mine. 11 dwellings and 5 cities: that’s where I’ve lived in my life, not counting the year of travel around the world. 136 to 157 days, roughly: this is how much time my heart has to explore and explode and experience and expand in this neck of the woods before I say goodbye and start over. Again.

f0e9ec0c795d690d0f04a3170186f289I’ve started over a lot. Sometimes I’ve done it because I wanted to, because my heart wanted nothing more than to follow the magic of beginning. Sometimes I’ve done it because my heart wanted nothing more than to follow the thumping of another human’s heart. This time, it is both.

The last few years of being rooted, un-rooted and up-rooted here, have been the hardest of my life. This is where I’ve known isolation and judgment, feelings of disconnect and insignificance, endings and beginnings, chaos and so. much. change. I’ve found myself face to face with demons and leaches, my own and other people’s too. I’ve looked in the mirror and seen morsels of decay left to fester in the corners of multifaceted rooms I didn’t know my body held. At times, I fought so strenuously against the current it felt like I was swimming in place, tethered to imaginary monsters of the past.

tumblr_nxk010GCRi1rpuw07o1_500And it has also been a period of standing over the cauldron of my own swirling light, marked by momentous leaps and bounds of growth, by love that managed to tear my heart open wider and wider and wider still. I’ve stepped in soupy messes with courage I didn’t know I had, leapt wild-heartedly into unknowns, and with a few scrapes and bruises to prove it, learned to fly. I’ve risked my significance in order to eagerly stand (with increasing patience and readiness) by my own genuine self. I’ve stripped down to the bone, shed my snake-skin, stood in the harshness of raw, achy exposure, and emerged a shinier, brighter, fuller me. I’ve been hurled by the universe’s slingshot into depths of knowing, remembering and re-membering.

To this community of souls that has witnessed my journey, that has stood by my side, that has taught me to be, thank you. My hands have been warmed by the strength of your hands, my eyes have been seen by the beauty and wisdom of your eyes, my heart has swelled by the expansiveness of your heart. To you who have had the courage to share of your selves, who have trusted me with your secrets, your joys and your struggles, thank you. It is in the witnessing of your blossoming that I have been given permission to bloom. And to those ones that have shut me out, shot me down, turned away from me and chosen not to see me, thank you. You’ve gifted me the audacity to show up, the grit to work through the muck, the determination to stand in my own light.

I have 3264 to 3768 hours left in this place. Here’s to thriving in each of those clock-ticks, to relishing the time left, to being in the untidiness of it all. Here’s to the turbulence of the next moments. Here’s to the not-so-gentle juncture of leaving, to us – you and you and I, in the chaos of parting. And here’s to the brilliant flame of beginnings that follows the disorientation of endings.
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(all photos found on tumblr)

Inhale, exhale

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Inhalation, exhalation.
Bridges and rubble. Tall spiraling staircases and the after-math of bombings. Light so bright it hurts my eyes and dark, moldy, terrifying corners.

Transformation. Death and birth and death and birth and birth and death again. The full moon is in Taurus. Remember to remember, they say. Let that shit go, they say.
It’s the last super-moon of the year. Harness that creativity, they say.

Tap in or tap out. And it feels like chaos.
Inspiration, expiration.
Inhale, exhale.

It’s a whirlwind of destruction. It’s a fertilizing, a readying for the planting, a preparing to receive. Brush the dry skin off. There is beauty in the particles floating in the sunlight…and it is skin – old, dry, decomposing debris. I’ve got one foot (and perhaps half of the other) out the door. I’ve got two hands hanging onto the windowsill, trying to pull myself back in. I can hear the pitter-patter, I can hear the thump-thump-thumping, I can hear the unbridled-almost-ferocious-roaring of my heart.

Inspire, expire.
Space and sweetness. And gasping too. And just a hint of fear. Fear is good, they say. It keeps you moving forward. Fear is bad, they say. It freezes you in your tracks.

And then there are the trees, breathing and reaching, simultaneously shedding and quieting and getting ready to sleep. Earth and metal. Salts and ores and quiet streams. Water so powerful it’s about to break the dam.

Don’t you dare hold back, they say. Be wild and true. Create a container, they say. It’s not polite to be who you are.
Inhalation, exhalation.
Inspiration, expiration.
This room is too cramped. The walls are too tall.
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(top photo by Christopher McKenney, bottom one here)

Falling In Love in the City of Love

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It all started one morning as I lay on the makeshift bed, trying to plan my day. Metro stops, directions from here to there, frantic notes taken in my book and on my phone, all to ensure I wouldn’t get lost.

photo by Myriam Khouzam

I realized I was wasting precious moments, my mind slowed by the fear of being disoriented. It was enough to move me out of doubt.  I slipped into my favorite jeans, wrapped my heart in my scarf, and headed out the door.

The magic opened up before me. She found me instantly. She guided me through winding streets, reminding me patiently to trust my intuition.

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There I was, lost among the crowds of tourists. They were missing the beauty, their noses so perfectly buried in guide books. There I was, found in the beauty of my surroundings.
For a few days, I learned what it felt like to be truly present, one breath, one step, one bite at a time. The past and the future chose to forget me and I saw myself reflected in windows and flowers and beautiful eyes looking back at me.

I ate croissants and watched lovers kiss. I felt the sun, and later the rain, tickle my cheeks. I navigated the streets of Paris waiting for my heart to be swept away, searching for romance.

And I found it.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the company I kept. We made the most of those few days we had alone together, lost in time for a while.

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We took each other on long walks, talked to locals as though we were one of them, and they believed us. We sat for long, delicious meals, allowing the wine to go to our heads and mesmerize us by our collective beauty. We told each other fairytales and they melded so perfectly with reality that we could no longer separate the two.  We teased each other and laughed. We learned the language of soul-speak and without a single word, absorbed the history around us, communing not only with our own selves but with those who had taken these very same steps before we had even inherited these bodies. We looked at old photographs and tombstones and knew we had been here before, many times.

At night, we shared our discoveries with our beloved and her smile became a reflection of our own.

We were me, and I am all of us.

I know, with the cells of my soul, I am in love with each of you and with the moon reflected in our eyes.

 

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*all photos by me. see more here

The Universe Inside Our Heart

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We sat in a circle.
Ten souls new to each other,
As old as the world.
The tears of the world flooded our eyes and our mouths.
We became a conduit for the suffering, and in turn,
The healing of the earth.
We sat in the darkness,
The rain challenging us to step up to the task.
And they came
By the thousands, they came
Checking us out,
Wanting to be a part of the conversation.
We let them in.
We held each other through the storm.
We lifted the curtains and
Entered beyond the veils.
We tasted immense beauty
And knew that our love was not enough
We can always (always!) love more.
So we sat with ourselves and each other.
We struggled with feeling alone and small.
We marvelled at our bigness.
We became immeasurable.
And we knew.
Beyond words, we understood.
It is our darkness that allows the light.
It is our light that stirs us to the knowing.
The entire universe is inside our heart.

We don’t know how lovely we are.
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In Between

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Sometimes you sit in sadness.
Sometimes the lines get blurred and you don’t know the difference between your own tears
and someone else’s.
Sometimes the bleeding wound you’ve been running from is exactly where you need to be.
Sometimes the blistering is what points you to the tenderness of your own
breaking heart.
Sometimes it is your aloneness that shows you kinship,
your pain that teaches you gratitude,
your defeat that guides you to the light you’d forgotten.
Sometimes, something gives you the courage to step out of yourself,
and into your self.
And you find your way to the centre of your centre,
to the heart of your heart.
And there you are once more, returning home
fragile and tender and broken.
There you are again,
strong and magnificent, a wild horse running.
There you are,
the universe inside the universe.

Love-d.

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Rehab for the Soul – A Step by Step Approach.

imgresAbout a month ago, I realized I’d been in the mud. My feet were sinking in just a bit deeper with each passing day. Nothing was wrong as such, but I felt stuck. I’d been there before. We all have. You know the place. Maybe for you it is sitting in front of your computer screen or your sheet of paper or your blank canvas. Maybe you’re facing the monotony of your kitchen cupboards. You’ve strayed from that intuitive creativity and the words and ideas are lost to you – for a while.

I’ve just been so busy. I hear the ridiculousness of the words as I say them. They feel shallow and weightless. I’ve been caught up in work and school and routine. I’ve been caught up in lack of routine too. I’ve walked around like a zombie. Sometimes I’ve tried to make eye contact, sometimes I’ve desperately avoided it. Looking around I’ve caught myself thinking ‘I just don’t get it’. And yet there I was amongst them; lost amongst us all. I’ve been tired. I’ve sat in front of the television knowing full well it was dulling me. If you’re sensitive like me, you can justify it – sometimes you need to be subdued and put to sleep.

And so the cycle went. Or so it goes. Some of the time.

During those few months, I caught myself trying to get off the ride. I stuck my hand out of the window of a moving car and said something brilliant but nobody heard it, not even me. I skimmed my fingers against the soft feathers of the dream catcher hanging by my bedroom window.
I realized my disconnect.
I longed to find the light again. I knew she was there, hiding behind the veil.

And so I went to the source.
I drank the medicine of the earth.
I pulled cards to clear my vision.
I burned sage and cedar and sweetgrass.
I listened to the messages; I heard them in the deepest corners of my heart’s heart.
I’m listening still, and navigating the beautiful cacophony – and the harmony, all at once – of my own song.
The lessons are for me. They are for you. They are for all of us.

First, become the hermit.

wings_in_solitudeIt’s time to incubate. Like a hamster caught in a wheel, you’ve been going nowhere except further away from your light. Take the time to stop. Say no and take a break from external activities for a while. Those who love you will understand and support you. Take a walk in the forest and pick some cedar. Soak in a warm bathtub full of the branches you’ve brought home and sing yourself a love song. Listen to the beauty of your own voice and the wisdom of the silence. Take the time to remember your self. Turn your energy inward and rediscover your magical inner beingness. In order to truly feel good, you must learn to occasionally retreat from everything and let yourself be replenished in solitude. Tune in to the rhythms of your heart, you breath, your life force. Welcome the pause. Renew your strengths.

Be open to what arises.

In your solitude, recognize your individual awareness and its connection to global consciousness. Give yourself permission to face your fears in order to shed them. Trust that you have a rightful place in this world, that your gifts are as bright as your heart. Be open to the inevitability of transformation, like a snake shedding it’s old skin and transmuting into a soft, shiny, new self. Let your inner mountain lion guide you back to your spirit. Listen to the buffalo from your dreams. He will answer your prayers and renew your grace. Reconnect with your inner teachers and embody every stage of relearning yourself.

Let go of your past. Thank it, bless it, but don’t carry it around so much. Trust that what truly belongs to you will always be available. Trust that your past is made up of memories that are meant to give way to an infinitely more fulfilling present. It’s time to wake up to a new direction – one where your fears and doubts no longer hold you back.

Welcome change.

Now that you’ve met yourself again, learn to go with the flow. Attune to your forces and allow the metamorphosis. There is no need to complicate things anymore. Once you are in harmony with your self, change becomes an ally and you can see it for what it is: perfection in action. Trust that every turn, every door that opens or closes, has the potential to make you shine brighter still. Allow each success and each failure to become great teachers. Know deeply that there is immense wisdom in not identifying too strongly with any of your experiences. The river is always flowing back to the sea. All you have to do is let her carry you.

Shine like the bright star that you are.

tumblr_ma3wskfMlB1rps2rbo1_500You’ve tuned in. You’ve listened. You’ve learned a few things. Now it’s time to hold your self in beauty, to walk with grace, to speak with openness, to give with generosity, to live in gratitude. Recognize that to give is a gift from the divine. Allow the life that is now freely pouring out of you to guide you. Let is show you how to pass on what you are constantly receiving. It is in the giving of yourself – back to your self as well as to others – that you will generate profound contentment and kindheartedness. Trust that your source is endless, that the earth is replenishing it, that the circle of giving and taking completes itself. Look up at the night sky and see your reflection as the brightest star. She will show you how brilliantly your heart shines. Let her remind you of your own gifts, whatever they may be. Know that your wealth is immeasurable.

Be the mother of air.

From the earth’s perspective, the air or the wind personifies the divine messenger. Step fully into self-awareness and trust your innate intelligence. Give yourself permission to be in self-respect, in inner strength, in clarity, in creativity, in courage. Be who you truly are, not who you should have been, could have been or are supposed to be. Be naked to the world. Drop your masks and vow to never pick them up again. This is the only way to fully return to your centre. If you listen with honesty, you will find you have the intrinsic courage to express yourself with unmistakable clarity. This does not mean pushing anyone out of your path. Instead, it means being kinder to your own heart. It means shedding those preconceived notions you have bought into. It means recognizing your own worth and acting accordingly. Honour, respect and take care of yourself in order to become an example of how others should treat you.imgres-1