Eternity is in love with the productions of time. William Blake

Archive for February, 2009

Cultivating Authentic Expression

Why is it so hard sometimes for the words to come out clearly?  It seems to be part of my shadow.  The writer who struggles with expressing herself.  Especially in conversation with my beloved.  When I feel unsure about how something will be received, unsure that what I am thinking/feeling is acceptable, I become vague, I diminish what I’ve just put forth, even when what I’ve been trying to say isn’t actually a huge deal.  But how I am dancing around it makes it into a big deal.  Sigh.

While I don’t think that I’ve ever put on much of a facade in life, I know that it hasn’t always felt safe to be all of who I am, all the time.  This is something I have put a lot of attention to over the last 6 years or so.  To be inauthentic feels like lying to me, and I hate lying.  And I’ m bad at it.  I’ll skip out on something before lying, given the choice (this was not such a good relationship strategy.  When I’d find some repressed part of me trying to surface, I would just end up moving on instead of facing the necessary vulnerability).    However in the marriage that I now have (actually, both of them, if you want to count my marriage to myself), I feel a fierceness of love that compels me to share all that I am, all that I experience, see, feel.  This is both scary and freeing.  It is demanding.  And sometimes, perhaps still too often I want to stick my head in the sand.   What I try to remember is that my husband already sees me–I’m not really hiding anything from him, just making the picture blurry.

I am tired of living from my social conditioning.  Aren’t you?  It’s exhausting.  What helps me is remembering that when the fear arises, it’s not time to feel ashamed.  It’s time to heal those places–they can’t be healed if they can’t surface, so I try to greet them with gratitude, a lot of humility, compassion for self, and a damn good dose of humor.

Almost My Anniversary . . .

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” C.G. Jung

Last year, for my birthday which is in March,  I married myself.  There was a sweet smattering of friends from different communities that came, and one of my dearest friends, Travis, officiated for me.  I think my family back East in New England thought I was nuts (I didn’t deliberately tell them, but you know how news travels), but I wasn’t doing it for them, or for anyone else.  Choosing to marry myself was about cementing a commitment to not forget that I am here–that I have needs–and that if I don’t tend to them I’m not honoring myself, both the human and the divine inside.  It was only when I experienced an intense rejection by my then beloved about 9 months earlier that I was forced to really engage with my self care, and to not look outside for someone else to fulfill me.

Here are the vows I took:

I vow to love myself with the depth, breadth, consistency and commitment that I love others.

I vow to honor the Beloved as it resides in myself.

I vow to hold my self-care as a non-negotiable priority.

I vow to give myself full permission to live fully and expansively, while also feeling grounded and secure in my home, body, life, relationships, work and spiritual practice.

I vow to remember that when I am manifesting my true ‘work’ in the world, the Universe will bring me all the abundance–financial, energetic, emotional, spiritual, physical–I need to live joyfully and in integrity.

I vow to continue to lovingly bust my own stories of limitation and scarcity, and to bring endless compassion and amusement to said process.

I vow to give myself permission to ask for help when I need it.

I vow to do my best to be the mother my daughter needs, and to release my attachment to what is unnecessary or harmful.

I vow to cultivate, honor and celebrate myself as an embodied erotic being.

I vow to continue to support myself on the path to becoming a financially savvy, capable and secure woman.  I vow to raise my daughter to be the same.

I vow to honor my body as a manifestation of my spirit/soul, and to remember that honoring the needs of the body is honoring the needs of the self.

I vow to be the change I wish to see in the world.

I vow to be the love I wish to see in the world.

Three cheers for self-commitment!

This commitment to myself has made all the difference in the world.  And my world has overgone a major re-haul in the past year, including meeting the man who is now my husband, and soulmate.  At our wedding in June 2008, besides taking more traditionally worded vows, he and I took these Zen vows/precepts:

“We nourish ourselves and each other in living by the following five precepts:

1.  In every way we can, we allow our deepest Self to appear.

2.  We take full responsibility for our own life, in all its infinite dimensions.

3.  We affirm our trust in the honesty and wisdom of our own body, which with our love and reverence always shows us the true way.

4.  We are committed to embrace all parts of ourself, including our deepest fears and shadows, so that they can be transformed into light.

5.  We affirm our willingness to keep our hearts open, even in the midst of great pain.”

(p 187, Into the Garden:  A Wedding Anthology, edited by Robert Hass & Stephen Mitchell, 1993 HarperCollins)


The whole ceremony was amazing, and intimately crafted from our hearts, including our other vows, but as time passes I find that these are what stick out the most for me.  These words intimately spell out how we agree to engage not just with each other, but individually and with the world.  There are many things that I was attracted to in Bruno when I met him, but it was the quality of his loving engagement with his world that really spoke to me, that said, “Hey Ursula, pay attention–this one is different.  He’s already here, already deeply alive.”

So here I am, embracing deeper shadows in myself, acknowledging more clearly who I actually am, so that I engage more authentically, and happily, with the world around me.   The work is hard, and sometimes scary, but infinitely rewarding.  Things do get easier–I become more loving with myself, more available to enjoy those I love.


The wakened lover speaks directly to the beloved,

“You are the sky my spirit circles in,

the love inside my love, the resurrection-place.

Let this window be your ear.

I have lost consciousness many times

with longing for your listening silence,

and your life-quickening smile.

You give attention to the smallest matters,

my suspicious doubts, and to the greatest.

You know my coins are counterfeit,

but you accept them anyway,

my impudence and my pretending!

I have five things to say,

five fingers to give

into your grace.

First, when I was apart from you,

this world did not exist,

nor any other.

Second, whatever I was looking for was always you.

Third, why did I ever learn to count to three?

Fourth, my cornfield is burning!

Fifth, this finger stands for Rabia, and this is for someone else.

Is there a difference?

Are these words or tears?

Is weeping speech?

What shall I do, my love?”

So he speaks, and everyone around

begins to cry with him, laughing crazily,

moaning in the spreading union

of lover and beloved.

This is the true religion.  All others

are thrown-away bandages beside it.

This is the sema of slavery and mastery

dancing together.  This is not-being.

Neither words, nor any natural fact

can express this.

I know these dancers.

Day and night I sing their songs

in this phenomenal cage.

My soul, don’ try to answer now!

Find a friend, and hide.

But what can stay hidden?

Love’s secret is always lifting its head

out from under the covers,

“Here I am!”


Death illuminates the pantheon of faces around me.

On Thursday at the bus station in Gainesville, FL, I sat for five, maybe even ten minutes in my seat looking out the window at my husband in the parking lot.  Seeing him had been a bright spot during the week of visiting my father who has just been diagnosed with late stage cancer;  now it would be three weeks until Bruno came home.  In all likelihood it will be like every other time he has been away this year–we miss each other terribly, but then it is over and we sink into the simple luxury of each other’s presence.  But there was something so piercing about gazing into his face that day.  As we waited for the bus driver to take his seat, we looked at each other, sometimes smilingly awkwardly, vulnerable, aware.  This is my person I thought as I looked at him, the person that I see  in everything, reflected everywhere.  And he is healthy, strong, flexible, robust.  But that mortal coil is by nature vulnerable, and therefore, precious. The house of the soul of my Beloved.

Yes, it is death shining through the Beloved, death that is awareness of life, that requires constant engagement and an ever deepening embodiment of love.

It shines through the faces around me.  Both of my sisters are pregnant, one due in April, the other in July.  All the time as life grows within them who they have been ]dies, until in birth the women they have come to know will be shed for the women they will be.  Birth is as close as we get to death before we actually die.  When I was pushing my daughter out of my body,  I recognized the liminal space I was inhabiting, and realized how easy it could be to let go to the other side, if there was an emergency.   But birth, for normal healthy women, is safe, despite the beliefs of modern allopathic medicine.  It is the closeness to death that scares us.  But it is the willingness and experience of being this close that imparts such power to women who give birth.

And then there is death as we know it.  Only about two weeks ago my father was diagnosed with late stage prostate cancer that has metastasized into many of his bones.  This will be the second parent of mine to die of cancer; my mother died when I was nineteen, of colon cancer.  It is good to be an adult this time around.  I am more resourced in my grief, more able to experience the pure outpouring of love that I feel, an ocean, a lifetime of gratitude rushing my lungs, heart, throat, eyes.   Life reminds us that he has a day, a number, a certain–that is assured–time to go.  We all have it.  Remembering that this is always true de-veils the love that gets bogged down by fear and mundaneness.

My husband, my sisters, my father, my mother.  There is one big little person left.  My daughter.  Kale’akai turned four on January 24.  Her name means ‘oceanic joy or light’ and it pleases me when I remember that saying her name is an invocation for her being, and for that energy for the world.  I am humbled by the love she gives–I have my share of impatience, crankiness, selfishness.  Her steadfast belief in me is a gift to remind me to keep shedding, to be parent she needs me to be, the nest as she learns to take flight.

I am dancing a slow dance with death.  It is intimate, bittersweet, always changing, fired up by the force of feeling, held close by the depth of embodiment.  I think that I was born old and become younger in spirit as I age, freer, simpler, more real.  And so death births me into new realms, and charges the days of this one with light like an inner sun.

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