I’ve been noticing a new term going around lately: adulting.
Adulting means doing things like going to work, paying bills, calling a plumber, etc.
When I see the word, the context it’s used in 99% of the time is negative. “Ugh, I’m tired of adulting.” “Adulting? No thanks, it’s the weekend.” etc. I remember being young and feeling so impatient about growing up and becoming an adult. I felt that on the other side of childhood/adolescence, there was this special world, a secret utopia that only those over 18 had entry into. I imagined that the funnest things happened after I went to bed.
There were days when I would leave school early, for a dentist appointment or something, and I felt such a profound freedom in the fact that I was riding around with my mom at 1:00 in the afternoon. The world seemed different, expansive and full of possibility. I couldn’t wait until I was free from the prison of my school, free from waking up each day at 6:30 am, packing a lunch, shuffling from one classroom to another at the sound of a clanking bell, returning home at the end of the day, and doing it all over again, 5 days a week. Of course, as a child, I had no choice. My parents both worked and they sent me to public school and that’s just the way it was.
But now, now I’m an adult and I finally feel the freedom that I always imagined as a child. I wake up when I want to, I spend my days how I want to, and I go to bed when I want to. I chose this life, this freedom, and it wasn’t an easy choice to make. The easy choice would have been to continue to be an elementary school teacher after college, waking up at the same time each day and returning home each evening, 5 days a week. The easy choice would have been to collect my paycheck and rest in the knowing that it would be there again the next month. But I chose another path. I chose a road that started out muddy, unclear, and my feet sunk in the quicksand with almost every step. But the path I chose got easier with each step I took. The mud dried up and although I still had to cross peaks and valleys, I opened my eyes and breathed in the fresh air, let my eyes wander over the expansive openness, let my ears bathe in the silence of nature, and although the road still has bumps and rough spots and is quite isolated, I would choose it over the easy, known road any day.
I recently came to the big city of Austin for a 24 hour trip and it really felt like a trip, if ya know what I mean. The longer I live out here on the land, the stranger it feels to be somewhere else. I start to feel the change as I enter into Dripping Springs, the town between where I live and Austin. The energy feels taut, more tightly wound, the air has an electric feeling and I usually start to crave a latte. Sometimes I stop at SummerMoon and get one, the coffee running through my veins, matching the buzz I feel around me. I start to feel this hum of anticipation, excitement building about the idea of air conditioning, a bath with “endless” water, and wifi. I pull up to my parent’s house in typical suburbia and visit with them, take a long shower, put some laundry in, and do computer work. On my last visit, I marveled at the fact that I could get a haircut at Supercuts, a juice at Juiceland, and things I don’t need but want at Goodwill, all within 50 yards. The city is so convenient! It felt like a body, its own entity, with separate parts all working together to create harmony, to create society, to create a lifestyle in which people can drive to their jobs, get paid, and conveniently spend their money all within a pretty small radius.
As I moved around the different city organs/stores, I felt strange, like some sort of alien creature, a bug that was released from a glass jar miles from where it was captured. I also had the strange sensation that I was in a video game, or on a movie set, or even dreaming. There was a lack of realness, but the rawness was overwhelming. The concrete all around soaked up the sun and the air was suffocating. The sounds of the traffic and the music in the stores was violating and the contrast of the air conditioning with the heat outside was shocking. But through the intensity, underneath the overwhelm, I felt happy, calm, and at peace. I enjoyed getting my hair washed by the talkative cosmetologist Supercuts, her experienced hands massaging my head. We shared laughs about another customer stealing the magazines and how she never thought she would get back together with her ex boyfriend. I enjoyed the smell of Juiceland, a fruit utopia, and I even enjoyed getting mistaken for my twin sister for the millionth time. I loved going to over-priced Goodwill and finding a vintage crock decorated with a beautiful butterfly. I bought a wonderfully tasteless organic frozen pizza to heat up for dinner and ate Coconut Bliss ice-cream for dessert while I watched cable television.
The next morning I woke up and did some more computer work and then said goodbye to the city. As I passed through Dripping Springs, headed home, my body began to unwind, the air around me felt more still, and the silence that greeted me as I arrived home was magnificent. Here I am sitting around half-naked, sweat dripping from behind my knees, desperately wishing our tiny freezer would hurry up and freeze the ice cubes, and yet I am happy. I am peace with the sweat and the heat, with the bugs and the increasingly shorter supply of rain water. I am calm in the silence and in the dark, and I am grateful for the contrasts that life provides.
"When we were born, we got blasted apart; we burst into a million fragments, scattered around like a 1,000 piece puzzle on the floor. We were kids so we didn’t even attempt to put the puzzle together, we just kept living. Then we grew up and we saw all the fragments lying on the ground and we started piecing them together, one by one. But, above it all, looking down at the mess and the sweet gentleness with which we search and search for the right piece, there is a part of us that is witnessing, just observing the process. That part of ourselves doesn’t get overwhelmed with the daily search, with the frantic hunting for lost fragments; that part of ourselves realizes that we are complete, even in our fragmentation, we are complete, we are whole, we are perfect, and we are Love.”
This message came to me during a downpour, a literal rainstorm and a downpour of healing + tears happening in my own heart. I was confronted by a loved one about some of the things that I share with the world/whoever sees it. I am asked often by this person why I share so much of my story, my life, my feelings. “Considering the feelings of those you love is part of loving someone. It is not all about yourself and what you want. Sometimes we do things or don’t do things because of our love for another person.” This is what they told me. So what is love, then? Is love hiding parts of ourselves so that we don’t upset someone else? Is love making decisions based on someone else’s life experience rather than making a decision based on what we desire for our own lives? I think that Love- true, unconditional, Love with a capital ‘L’- isn’t based on these things and doesn’t even exist in the same space. Love is remaining authentic, being true to yourself no matter what the world around you is asking of you. This kind of love is HARD. It’s easy to hide parts of ourselves from others, to walk a path already laid out instead of bush-wacking your own, to nod and smile when you actually feel like crap inside. But those things aren’t done out of love. They’re done out of habit, convenience, and fear.
In our society, it’s much more challenging to be vulnerable, to be open about your dreams and your fears, to be honest about how you feel, and to live the life you truly want to live. When we live in this wholesome, honest way, we are actually able to truly love others because we know what it means to love ourselves. As my teacher says, “You are told to love your neighbor—but you have never loved yourself. And a person who has not loved himself, how can he love his neighbor? From where can he get love? First you have to have it. You are loving the neighbor—you who knows nothing of love because you have never loved yourself. The neighbor is loving you—he has never loved himself. Such insanity is happening in the world: people who know nothing of love are loving each other.”
The inner work that I’ve spent my whole life doing just isn’t okay with that kind of “love” anymore. So, although others may find me selfish or unloving, I will continue to live a life based around authenticity and my truth. Even though it hurts me to see those I love hurting, especially when they blame their pain on my actions, I still cannot change the course of my life for someone else. And so it is.
Our inward spiritual journey is the archeology of ourselves and like any skilled archeologist, we must be very careful, slow, and delicate in extracting our own pain and facilitating our healing. Someone walking in a field doesn’t stumble upon ancient remains and just take a jackhammer and start digging in. They take stock of the site, concluding that extraction is either going to be a safe and harmless process or that the environment just isn’t reciprocle to any digging at the present moment, without damage to the remains. And that security and knowledge about our inner landscapes is what we deserve as well.
Lately I have been feeling a dull ache, a pain somewhere deep inside that I can’t quite pinpoint. I hear the echo of where it originated from, but I can’t grasp any specific memories around it. I felt a strong feeling surface the other night, but what was rising up felt too big, too much for me to hold at that moment, so I asked for the healing to happen “behind the scenes” and I lie down and let my body tremble and quake, download and cleanse. Today I decided that, once and for all, I was ready to face it, whatever “it” is; I was ready to face the pain, the memory, the wound that is throbbing and asking to be examined and cleansed. I let the smoke of Palo Santo bathe me while I asked for the clarity to see. I used the mimosa plant as my ally and tool and I lay down to “let the healing begin”. I closed my eyes and felt my 3rd eye throbbing and I was trying hard to make sense of the visions I was seeing. After a while, i just sat up and glanced at the tree beside me. I call him my brother tree. I immediately got a message saying “You’re trying too hard. This wound will heal when it’s good and ready and no sooner. If you try too hard to extract it, you could cause damage, so just trust that it will fully surface when its time for it to.” I immediately began weeping at the truth and compassion in the message I’d received. As much as I like to take part in my own healing and growing, it is like an adult tooth pushing out a baby tooth: no amount of pleading and swearing that I'm ready for the pain will make the baby tooth fall out any sooner. I must rest in the knowing that I am growing and healing at the pace that is appropriate and healthy for me, even though it may not match the rate that I would like. My job is to remain patient, trusting, and (most of all) kind to myself.
Lately I've been reminiscing on the last couple of years in my life. This time two years ago, I was Wwoofing, living and working on a farm, trying out a lifestyle I had only dreamed of before. I spent my days outside with my hands in the earth, occupied and working, my mind free to wander and dream and ponder, tallying numbers and figuring out if a life on the land would ever be feasible and affordable. During that time I was also introduced to ayahuasca (a shamanic brew from the amazon) for the first time, in ceremony, opening myself up to a whole new world of magic and possibility, my intention and intuition become sharp, like a piece of knapped flint.
This time last year, I was in ceremony again, communing with the Spirits and meeting my Love. I met him in the underworld, in a dark room where energy was swirling and whirling around me and time was incomprehensible; I was a baby again and couldn’t use words to express my feelings and fears, so I held his hand and there, on that soft mat in that dark room, is where I fell in love.
Now, it is spring time once again and now I am on the land that I dreamed of for so long, my hands in the dirt again, digging beds for our garden. Our love is just one year old, yet it feels like I’ve been by his side for a lifetime and even beyond. This love feels deep, reaching into the shadows and depths of my core, like the medicine that introduced us.
Lately, I have been practicing an old, seemingly never ending exercise of mine: letting go. To surrender to the flow, to be aware of the fifth element (as the Sufis called it), the fact that although we have some control over our actions and daily life, there is a higher intelligence, a big Mystery that rules us all. It’s a force that I acknowledge daily, treating it with reverence and care, like rubbing lotion on the hands of an old person, or offering nuts to a curious squirrel, or planting flowers carefully in freshly dug holes. This is the force that pushes my body down onto my soft bed some days, asking that I conserve my energy and quietly rest for a few hours. This is also the force that rises me out of bed early in the morning to make jewelry all day and take photographs of my work. This force reaches from my belly to my throat and brings songs to my voice, the message aching to be embodied and shared.
So, as spring arrives and brings new teachings and new challenges, I will honor the changes and the truths. I will honor the Mystery behind all of life.
Spring has arrived here on the land; the flowers are stretching their petals towards the sun and our front yard mandala has sprouted many weeds from the recent and frequent rains. I have begun to amass quite the collection of my favorite fungi, “desert seaweed”, thanks to a large drying screen that my love created for me. I like to have enough to give to friends and loved ones and also to get us by when the rains don’t come, because the water is what brings this green, algae-like nourishment, so we’ll still be able to enjoy it even in the summer. We finished construction on our bedroom at the very beginning of the year and what a lovely little addition it has been. Our one-room cabin was just fine when it was all there was, but now that we have room to stretch our arms out, it’s really lovely and spacious here. We found an 800 gallon rain water collection tank on Craigslist recently and so now, combined with our other 500 gallon tank, we have 1,300 gallons of water to use! It’s a less stressful feeling now, knowing that we have enough water to last about 3 months, with no rain. Our 1,000 Watt solar panel is still treating us just fine. We don’t use much power at all during the day; just enough to run the vacuum every now and then and to light the closet, maybe. Our newest project has been our garden. We don’t actually have one yet, but we’ve started working on the site, clearing the land and building a structure that can house garden supplies and a chicken coop. It’s really exciting to me. Some of my favorite moments in life have been harvesting and working in a garden, my hands in cool soil, later to make a meal from delicious vegetables and herbs, straight from the earth. I am remaining patient, content with the fact that our garden may not be up and running until the fall. I want to create it right, intentionally and unhurried, trusting that it’s completion will simply bring another part of my life in balance, and then it’s off to discover the next creation that wants to be birthed!
Someone asked me recently if I ever think about teaching again (I used to be an elementary special education teacher). I always say no. I say no, even though I often have dreams about my former students and wonder where they are now. I say no, even though I miss getting to see the same children 5 days a week and becoming such good friends with them. I say no, even though my paycheck was steady and good and I had health insurance. I say no because, at this point, I can’t imagine a life unlike the one I’m living now. Each day is a flower that unfolds, the color inside a mystery until it reveals itself. I don’t follow a schedule anymore, simply flowing with the river of the day and relaxing into the moods, emotions, and creations that arise. It rains and I take my basket and harvest the desert seaweed that I often speak of, my mud boots squishing and squashing, feeling delighted when I stumble upon a particularly large mass of the green algae-like stuff.
Some days I work on my jewelry business until the afternoon and then feel the urge to take a hike, so I put on my hiking pants and set off. I start out walking at a normal pace, my eyes and ears taking in the sights and sounds until I start to tap into the Spirit of this land. Then my walk slows to taking a few steps at a time and then stopping to listen for deer or pigs and search the ground for fallen treasures. My senses get overwhelmed, although not as easily as when I first arrived here; to be completely surrounded by Earth, alone, is quite stimulating for me and I often sink to my knees in humble gratitude, offering my happy tears to the ground.
Once, I found the tip of a spear (made from flint) lying on the ground and when I picked it up and held it in my palm, I swear I could almost feel the ancient history running up my arm.
So, while I do miss working with children daily, I do not miss the monotony of that time in my life. I admire those that are able to stay centered and balanced while sticking to a schedule, but I also appreciate my own quirkiness (doesn’t seem like quite the right word, but a better one escapes me) at not being able to adjust to it. So, for now, I will stay out here; out here where the days flow like streams and where the seaweed needs to be collected; out here where the rising sun means there are hikes to take and treasures to collect; out here, where the wild things are.
I was just sitting under a grove of cedars, in the middle of 3 huge stones, one of my power places. A place where I can feel magic, where I can smell the blood from moon lodges held there, where I can hear the flint being knapped and the voices of the hunters talking, a place that feels ancient, like I’m not the only one who recognized it as a place to take rest and Listen.
I prepared for a ceremony by lighting sage but before I could even begin to think about my intention for the journey, my mind was blank, a clear pool rippling in the wind. I received a realization that every action I take, everything I am doing, is an act of self love. How could in not be? Even the times when it feels like all I'm doing is making the wrong decisions, there is a silent truth that every decision is simply taking me a step closer to Home, to my truthful, authentic self. Because you see, there is no separation from what I'm doing now and where I want to be. I only think that there’s a difference; that there’s some distant land I'm trying to get to, some faraway shore that I'm wanting to reach. The place where I am now just doesn’t feel quite right, some of the pieces aren’t in place yet and if only this thing or that other thing would happen, then life would be good, I would be happy, I would be successful. But where ever I am now, is exactly the right place. What if I am happy now? What if I am successful? What if I do really love myself? What if the path that I walk now doesn’t need to be fixed or healed or mended? What if it simply needs to be acknowledged and loved and carefully tended to?
As my ceremony came to a close, something in the tree to my left caught my eye. I looked up and saw a large, knotted snakeskin dangling from a branch. I slowly got to my feet and walked over, my mind trying to grasp what my eyes were seeing. It may not seem like much, but these signs, these gifts, these treasures from the land, from Spirit, are so very meaningful to me. I softly whispered a ’thank you' to the tree as I untangled the skin from her grasp. I sat down with the snakeskin in my hands, marveling at this tangible manifestation of the all-too familiar state of shedding that I so often encounter on my path.
My newest song says “My skin is stretching tightly over my old self. But I am letting go. It feels so much better to shed.” When we shed our old ideas about life and about ourselves, when we allow ourselves to die to the old, we make room for the new. We grow into ourselves and continuously allow the cycles of death and rebirth to take place within us, recognizing when it’s time for a new skin.
Yesterday I felt sad so I distracted myself, every now and then sinking in and then coming up for air when I felt like I was drowning. Today I felt sad again. I had a primal urge to call my mom. Then the dam broke, my heart opened, and the tears flowed. I felt the pain of realizing that as much as my mother loves me, she could only love me so much, as a human can. Her unconditional love can still never match the unconditional love that I receive from Nature, Spirit, God; whatever you’d like to call it. As I cried, I remembered that I am grown now, an adult, a woman standing tall in the line of my ancestors. I looked behind me and saw where my mother came from, how she had to rise up and stand strong at a very young age, becoming a second mom to her younger brother. I looked even farther back and saw my grandmother, who recently left this world and passed over to the other side. I felt a surge of pure compassion for them and the women that came before them. They’ve all done the work that they were able to and here I am, doing mine.
As much as I’ve learned on my journey, I still find myself resisting the pain that sometimes comes. Even though my own song says “We exist to resist the pain that sooner or later we must face.”, I still push it away, even if just with one tiny finger. It can be excruciating to feel something so strongly but not know where it comes from. I’m finding that the sooner I sink into the pain, the sooner it reveals itself and shows its origin. Then I can lay down and curl up, let the waves take over and the tears flow, and allow the process to happen.
When I was young, I used to get so wrapped up in the sadness that would come snaking in. I would slide down a dark hole and remain in the bottom of the cave of my mind for weeks at a time. I grew to love the darkness as much as I loathed it, and when the sun would come out, I shielded my eyes at the blinding brightness and welcomed the clouds that would inevitably return. Now that I live in the sunshine of myself most times, those cloudy days feel very uncomfortable. It takes a great strength to lift my head to the clouds and allow the rain to wash over me, but each time it happens, I gather a little more power and surrender to the pain, for the pain is what brings lessons, the pain is what brings the eventual light, the pain is the catalyst for transformation.
I’m on a road trip back home to Mississippi to see some family and my sister put in my own CD of the songs I’ve written and while she’s singing along merrily, I am having a strong wave of gratitude passing through me. I began writing lyrics when I was about 8 years ago and began writing music when I started playing guitar at 14. I am so grateful that music came to me. I know that I am simply a channel of divine Truth and I am so thankful that I have this outlet to express that truth with.
Only those close to me know much about my past, but I experienced a deep and profound sadness from age 14 until about 19. I recently found my old journals from that time period and had a very healing time reading through them. I spoke of so much existential pain and sorrow; I spoke of feeling sad and not knowing why, I questioned Life itself and grasped for my purpose like I was falling off a cliff and reaching for some tree root to save me. I wrote about how I had lost myself, searching for it in relationships, drugs, and alcohol. I also got to read about my findings, my rediscovery of myself in my art, in music, in Nature, in the all pervading Love that began to fill me.
As I read the words I’d written almost 9 years ago, I remembered my study of quantum physics and how it changed my reality, to realize that I could change my reality. I remembered how the colors of the leaves on the trees seem to grow brighter, the edges around objects seemed more crisp. One line that I wrote really stuck out for me: “I realize now that if my mind was strong enough to believe my own delusions, then it is strong enough to remove myself from them.” So true!
It may sound strange but I am so thankful for that time I spent inside my “cave” as I liked to call it, inside the confusing twists and turns of my own mind, for it was there that I grew, the frequent tears formed ridges on my cheeks that only added strength. I grew out of my cynicism and self loathing into a creature made of love AND pain. Now I listen to myself singing, “We exist to resist the pain that sooner or later we must face. Rise up, stand up and Be. Feel the strength of your silence.”
I sing my songs and raise my face to the sun and hear the prayers snaking through my veins and from my voice, feeling eternally grateful for all of the pain that I’ve faced and for the way it transforms into love, leaving little lessons along the way.
These are collections of thoughts in my heart + head.
Click here to read more blog posts!