Soul Massage

Thursday, September 29, 2011

They've got us by the short hairs.
That is, as long as we continue to buy into the societal notion that bleeding must be hidden from view and dismissed as a normal bodily function, just like breathing. It is disheartening that our mothers were reared in shame about their bodies and therefore either had limited information to deal with their bodies or bought into the idea that whatever happened "down there" should remain in secret.

I am all about bleeding freely. There was a time when women gathered in sacred spaces to honor the evidence of fertility and returned the bloods to the earth for the next harvest. We were excited to take time away from the world and be indulged in our personal healing desires. As we accepted the concept of modernization of our lives, we gave up caring for our bodies and our needs. Bleeding women need sustained nourishment for mind, body, and spirit, but in a world that requires we “buck up” and keep going we are left neglected and isolated. That is except for jokes about being “on the rag” or “that time of month.” We are expected to take medications to calm our emotions, relieve bloat and discomfort - basically shut us down. We have forgotten (or neglected to learn) the old ways of being with this great opening and expanding opportunity. and really, we have no where to go. If all our friends and family have chosen to predominate standards, then to chose outside will establish us as weird or worse.

Even as I offered my girls various choices in honoring their bloods, they chose the way of the dominate society. We kept a sacred circle in the back space for bleeding and resting which also held the placenta of each birth. I used cloth pads - first purchased, then made from diapers or shop rags (red already). I soaked all clothes and watered the plants. We painted with blood. Bleeding was a celebration.

There are also sponges, and cups shaped like diaphragms that can be disposed or reused; and of course, The Keeper. They each offer an alternative to disposable products that must be repurchased monthly. Bleeding and the shame thereof is big business. It is more rational to give up white pants/dresses for a week and use the extra funds for a massage or other personal luxury. Rather than medicating our discomfort, imagine resting with legs up the wall, soaking in a hot bath, lounging with a good book and absolutely no responsibility. This is not to dismiss cramps or other associated symptoms of bleeding, but rather to offer space to be with what is. Hot packs, teas, toddies, chocolate, and sweet loving go a long way to sooth the physical and emotional. Let’s not forget wine.

As the years passed I began to lament the lost of my bloods. They became irregular, then infrequent, and now not at all. Bleeding was one of the ways I tracked my experiences, honored my connection to the cycle of change and life itself. Today I honor the holding of power once expended into the universe. Becoming The Crone has been slow enough to release physical memory. I thought I would miss bleeding. I feared the absence. Now I rarely notice - “my friend” has moved on...

Posted in response to "Cunt."

Monday, September 26, 2011


I turned the shower to hot, sprinkled in eucalyptus and lavender bath salts, and then left it running while I went to the kitchen for my morning digestive. Adding a bit of cold, I stepped into the fragrant midst and swooned. Hot showers are a luxury for a grrl saving every cent. Call this my splurge, one of them. This morning’s shower was not only hot, but long as I bathed with thick creamy lather and allowed the water to trail over my body, just for fun. Normally, I use a castile soap or foams for speed and efficiency, but waking to forty-five degrees just calls for warm relaxation to start the day.

I have plenty of creature comforts that soothe my day even as I commit to living with less. I own and sleep under high thread count sheets, with fluffy soft microfiber blankets. I keep several pairs of furry slippers for my bare feet and fancy warm socks – in bright and brilliant colors – as well. Years ago, I found that buying a cotton terry robe two sizes bigger serves both as functional after a shower to dry and then warmth in which to lounge. As a matter of fact, some days my robe serves as the only necessary bit of clothing.

My love affair with yogurt has continued and as my passion increased I left behind the sugars, sweeteners, fruits, pectin, gums and other additives and have fully, openly and lovingly embraced plain Greek yogurt. It’s pricey and worth every dollar. Recently, my local grocer has stocked quart size containers of the actual best Greek yogurt in the world. Forget the advertisements and do your own taste test. 

Damiana Liqueur
I have my favorite teas (Yogi and celestial Seasoning) in abundance, an excellent espresso coffee (Café Bustelo), raw sugar, half and half, and local honey. I have an extensive stock of liqueurs that I will have to sample less often until I devise a plan for restocking. These are a few of my favorite things.

What I hope to share differently than I have found is living luxuriously on less. I welcome all the information and advice I find on saving, simplicity, and thrift. Extensive knowledge means a broad and firm foundation from which I am make decisions and live my life more freely.  I can always go back to doing what I’ve done before.  It works for a while, then not at all. I am open to something different this journey. Part of that means enjoying a few luxuries along the way. 

May you never hunger.
May you never thirst.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Common Ground – less than 60 days

Mom's Football Clinic - Hickman High School 
As these days pass, and I prepare for my separation from my current assignment, I have been practicing placing more attention on how I show up and what I have left to offer. These nights I find that I am more tired than I remember being in the recent past. Some nights are absolutely exhausting – both the long dragging moments and the attitudes I must face each shift. And yes, I must face them. Sad, hurtful, angry, disparaging words are uttered almost constantly. My prayer is that each person will open to the lesson they need to learn from their experience and travel on – including me.
How do I bless those who are so unkind and leave them to their own paths?  How do I let go on any need to shift the energy, yet remain committed to peace in my heart and life? What do I have left to share?

We all want to love, be loved and feel that we matter. I know I do. Once I interviewed for a position and when they asked what my previous employers would say about me, I stated that they would say they loved me. Yes, I am dependable, reliable, accountable, supportive, committed and available, but more than that, I am loveable. I have worked in spaces where I absolutely loved my work, my job, and the people I shared time with. And they loved me. And I knew so. And I remember. It mattered and I mattered.

How can I show my co-workers that they matter? It not only matters what they do, but they matter as humans, and we are here in a shared experience?

It’s not that there haven’t been all manner of schemes devised to convey this point, but it does not come across as genuine. Even the staff morale committee struggles to keep members. Why? Because, in general, we do not believe we matter. We feel as though we are interchangeable disposable cogs in a wheel. Even the highly paid licensed staff are worked beyond capacity, with mandatory overages, little relief, and absolutely no consideration for personal or professional exhaustion. Some nights when I watch them struggle I understand even more deeply that there is just little left to care for themselves. Some manage, but most fall far afield. 

On most nights, for much of the shift, I feel as if I do not matter. I know there are tasks that I complete that if I were not there would have to be tended by the licensed staff, and that my presence is a convenience to the process, but really, not me. It is not me that matters. If I were gone, someone else would step in and continue on. Sadly, it’s not personal. Or perhaps, thankfully, we are all equally mistreated. The entire situation is less than encouraging. Fortunately, there are those who remain committed to offering and holding out their best for the patients and families we serve. And this is service work. 

In response to my questions, I decided to offer more service to my co-workers, patients, and their families. I choose to offer a “Yes.” whenever possible and to respond to each request as fully as possible. This approach is different as in the past I have deferred to the staff responsible for completing a task. Now, if I am able, I do it myself. 

I can’t imagine that I do not matter. I have no space in my understanding for the idea, regardless of the feelings. And the reality is that I do matter. When I returned from my vacation, several staff stated that they missed me. I was surprised. I thanked them for sharing that they noticed my absence. This is a gem of blessing, an opening for me to notice that there are a few I will carry with me when I leave – in my heart, if not personally.

Some nights I feel transformation taking  place. I honor the changes and hold to my knowing. I am ready to move on. I am clear that the path is open and no design has been laid. I thought I could see at least an inkling of what might be next but the more I try to shape up a plan, the more information I receive to just let go and be. The moments of fear are gentler and pass quickly. Sometimes the panic of societal lies (What if…?  How will you…? How can you?), the songs of insecurity, the grasp of stability, jingle in my brain, but I remember that I  get to live my life fully and freely regardless of other people’s nay saying and fears. Besides, as I step out into the unknown I show it is safe for others to do the same.

If you feel froggy, jump! (Thanks, Dad!)

Friday, September 9, 2011

A gift of anger

In imagining we don’t expect to see gifts come from another’s anger. Don’t expect them and don’t look for them.  If we have moved past the fear of another’s anger, we may just tolerate the outburst, attempt to sooth them in their distress, or even send them packing to another space – be it a room in the house, with friends, to a therapist, or the bar. 

In general, we rarely look closely at what the offering may be. I have found that when people get really anger they lose their inhibitions, relax the censors, and finally speak the truth. When the niceness slips away and the teeth are bared you can actually see what you are working with.  And as long as we stay out of fear, we can see. We can watch as another moves into hurt and vulnerability, as they expose the innermost parts. Perhaps, we can even remember that we love them. 

Of course this means that only one person can be angry at a time, and that the angry person has the full attention of the other. Given clear and present attention to express our feelings, we can deplete the rush of anger and share our deepest fears. 

The gift is truth. It is the opportunity to come to understanding. It is clarity. And more often than not, it is access to the answers we have been seeking that may have been hidden or ignored. It is the chance to express our humanness and our divinity as well. The gift is learning to be with what is, and noticing that it is not anger.

I once shared two homes – one with my children, another with my lover. We have been apart (as in broken up) since the end of the Lenten season. During that spiritual processing rather than growing closer, we grew even farther apart. So far in fact, that there was little to entangle me any longer. Even in this state we have continued to text, visit, and occasionally spend the day together. And as I shared a space, I had LOTS of STUFF there. In all the diligent work I am doing to rid my person home of excess, I remember in the back of my mind that I have a massive amount to sort through there as well. So, I thought I would get this (my personal home) together and slowly, very slowly gather a few of my things at a time.

We have seemed on friendly terms, so imagine my surprise when I arrive for a scheduled visit to find that all my belongings have been removed from the shelves. Yes, of course, I expected that some day they would be gone and had offered that my belongings could be left on the deck. But this was out of the blue. We had been texting the last few days with no mention of this process.

The explanation was that in anger all my belongings were collected and bagged. The End. No thought as to what would happen next.  Lots of BMW (bitching, whining, and moaning) later and here it is, “If you won’t be who and what I want you to be for me, then to hell with you.”) Fine. That’s what breaking up looks like, but really, we are months behind being apart. No matter. I gather my stuff and leave.

Now I have a car full of even more stuff that I really love. I brought home empty box and decided to leave outside those items I am willing to release. They will be ready for the garage sale in two weeks. Other things will have to wait a bit as I think about space.  I am working to be free of clutter and it’s hard to tell the difference between really cool stuff you love and things to release when the house is full up.

In this reclamation process, I found my eye glasses. I have a wonderful large mirror which will go upstairs. I have my espresso coffee pot, back. I wanted to bake and was running low on supplies. They were all returned. My tea collection has greatly increased. Yet, more I will not have to replace so soon. Books, books, and even more books. My grand-daughter will have more toys and as she has not seen them since spring, they will be new again. Plus, even more toys to give away. 

Initially, I was hurt by the space being emptied of my presence, especially in the face of proclamations of undying love. With those words I charged that there was nothing left for my comfort. Finally, I acknowledged that I was not actually coming back to visit, so there was no need to maintain a presence there. In this way, the outburst of anger moved me in a place I had been dragging my feet. I both needed to get my things (because I wanted them) out of the space and to prepare for the next movement in my life. 

There were some things that were not included. I now release them. Some were gifts. Others perhaps fit so well into the décor they were not recognized as my contribution. While I notice their absence from my personal home, I am willing to manage without them. 

I am blessed to have more than I need, and I am thankful. From this abundance I live and share and grow. 

May you find your heart open and your attention free.

And may you notice the lessons wherever and however they are offered.

I got half-a-dozen paintings from that shattered plate.
                                                                   Georgia O'Keeffe