anxiety

Secrets of a Professional Snake Charmer

Seated safely behind glass, an audience of  twenty-five onlookers watch as Carl and Anne Barden mindfully bring out six plastic boxes to a well-lit table. Each one is labeled respectively: cobra, coral snake, cottonmouth, rattlesnake.

Carl removes an angry five-foot long creature from a drawer labeled “monocled cobra” and lets it loose on the table. Instantly it rights itself, “standing” with its tell-tale hood flared, its eye on the crowd.

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Carl moves about like a Kung Fu master, shifting gracefully, fearlessly around his “opponent”. Then with nothing but a modified golf club, he secures the snake to the table, just below the head. He then grabs it by the throat and brings the snake to the window for the crowd to see up close. Mouth open, fangs displayed, the snake is clearly pissed off.

That’s exactly what Carl wants.

When he knows the cobra is sufficiently worked up, Carl dips it’s fangs into a glass jar. Onlookers gasp as the yellow liquid is excreted into the vial. Carl swiftly returns the snake back into its warm little drawer, tucks it away, and pulls out another snake. According to Carl the snake has “paid its rent” and won’t be asked to perform for another fifteen days.snake coral milk

The Reptile Discovery Center, in Deland, Florida is home of Medtoxin Venom Laboratories, where Carl and Anne educate audiences on the nature of poisonous snakes and allow guests to watch as they collect venom samples for research and anti-venom purposes.

My family and I have seen this venom extraction here five times now and honestly, it never gets old. What impresses me more than the snakes themselves is the gentle, fearless dance that this “snake charmer” and his assistant do time and time again.

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After the “show” Carl was asked about the number of times he’s been bitten.

“Eleven, but every time it was my fault, not theirs,” he said, making clear that snakes aren’t the bad guys. He explained further, “All the snakes want to do is curl up safe and cozy in their warm boxes and then I come around and bring them out into this bright room…” Carl clearly feels deep compassion for his venomous friends.

This last time we were there, as I was watching these snakes ooze venom from their mouths I was struck with a realization…

This relationship Carl has to his snakes is not unlike our own relationships–both with the people around us, and more importantly with our own “snakes” within.

Like the charmer’s snakes, each of us is simply trying to get by with the tools we have been given. When we are not mindful of our actions, we are animalistic in our behaviors, reactionary. Most of us do not go seeking trouble, however if we are prodded, our snake-like emotions emerge and we behave in ways that can hurt others, as well as ourselves.

But as our friend the snake charmer showed us snakes are not inherently evil. They simply are what they are: Snakes. He expects nothing less, nothing more. Treating a rattle snake like it was, well, let’s say a kitten would simply be foolish.

Our own snake-like tendencies can be brought to the surface merely by the complications of day to day life. When this happens our dark-side emerges and sometimes, when it gets bad enough, we strike. For humans “striking” can be lashing out at others, but it can also be lashing out at ourselves, acting jealous, greedy, needy, or hopeless. We each have our own personal snakes. There’s no reason to be ashamed, angry, or afraid of these parts of ourselves. We are what we are.

The trick however is to recognize is that we are also the snake charmer.

It is our job to keep our personal snakes in line. How is this done? Just like Carl does. Understand the implicit behaviors of our own inner snakes and those around us. When we can learn to do the dance of the snake charmer, our serpents are kept at bay.

A good snake charmer knows all about his snake’s venomous dark side, yet is not scared. He shows up and does his work every day. He loves his snakes, for they are his life and livelihood. The secret? The more he charms them, the more balanced and mindful he becomes…and the less he is bitten.

The greatest part of the snake charmer’s journey is that as he develops the skill of taming his inner snakes, he also acquires the greatest skill of all—the ability to transform the most toxic of venom into something that has the power to help and heal.

Now that said, the snake charmer will make mistakes. Of course he will! He is only human. Errors happen. All the time. In fact, the other day, I watched a cobra lunge uncomfortably close to Carl’s leg. But Carl did not falter, instead he reacted with kung fu deftness and gently corrected for his error.

The goal is thus to keep learning, dancing, and developing our skills and in doing so we are able to “extract” wisdom from our errors and eventually heal ourselves (and others!) along the way.

Listen closely to the calling of your own soul and the dance of the snake charmer will be yours for the keeping.

Peace and love,

Becky

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Just the Beginning – a poem

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Thoughts,

too many to name,

populate my head,

speaking half-truths as if they were the authority.

Today I decide-

That no longer will I let the roaming beasts roar,

no longer will I let

the illusionary needs of hungry ghosts

dictate who I may be.

Today, for the first time

I look myself in the eye

and say

no more

to cloud building

no more

to idol constructs

no more to games

where we’re all slated to loose

Today

I stand here naked

Not wanting,

Not needing

but being.

Be here!  Be love!  Be mighty!

Rest your worries, my love.

The end is not near…

this is just the beginning.

I’ve Been Thinking Too Much

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Hello. My name is Becky Pourchot and I’m an over thinker.

If there was such a thing as Over Thinker’s Anonymous I’d be the president. I’m a pro. Some days I think (and think some more) about all the energy I wasted in my life brooding over things that didn’t deserve any brooding.

Tonight, fed up with the overthinking I’ve been doing lately, I walked down to the beach (two blocks away), sat down, closed my eyes and breathed slowly in and out. I relaxed and let my heart open. Within moments all of my frustrations and fears seemed to fly off into the air, dissipating with the clouds.

Over thinking is an interesting thing. I may at first feel all mellow when a thought will pops in my head. Alone, a single thought can be beautiful and simple, but when worry and the need for reassurance kick in that problems start happening. When left unchecked, pretty soon a tower of fear and noise populate my once peaceful head. My mind has been known to travel from tranquil to end-of-the-world status in mere minutes.

When I was a kid these weighty thought clouds were all encompassing. In fact it got to the point at the age of fourteen that my parents took me to a psychiatrist. Pretty soon my clouds of overthinking were no longer just mental weather patterns but illness with all kinds of dire names: depression, anxiety, OCD.

Because I came from a medically focused family, medications were quickly prescribed and in time my thought clouds lifted-slightly. However as well intentioned as my parents and the doctor were, what they failed to tell me was that the drugs couldn’t “cure” me, in fact it was ME and me alone that had the power to change the climate of my own mind.

Forty years later I’m finally getting it. In the past few years I’ve learned what Glinda told Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz “You’ve had the power all along”. I’ve learned to manipulate my moods and the weight of thoughts with simple actions. All it takes is a faith in myself and a lot of practice.

For me I’ve developed a series of tools, like a life-sized tool kit that I pull out when I’m getting stuck. We’ve all got our own set of tools, it’s just a matter of recognizing and cultivating them. For me it’s meditating, dancing (turning on the music real loud and dancing like mad), baking, listening to music in the car, working out at the gym, or riding my motorcycle. Sometimes the best thing I can do is just sit and pause, maybe eat a piece of fruit real slow, and savor every detail of it, the texture, the flavor, the snap of the skin in my mouth. Buddhists call this mindfulness. Slowing down to appreciate minute details always seems to help me.

Over time I’ve developed a pretty good awareness of my different mental states. When I’m all wrapped up in whatever life hands me, I pause and think: “Oh man, you’re really caught up in this, aren’t you?”

There’s no judgement, just recognition.

Then I find a quiet spot, close my eyes and breathe deep. All it takes is maybe five breaths now to settle back into a place of joy. The longer I sit the “lighter” I feel. The weight of my thoughts and worries is lifted and I feel more at ease. I often notice a little smile on my face as my heart opens up with joy.

What I’ve learned from this new found “power” is that the weightiness we give to life is not real. It’s just a heavy illusion, layers of thoughts that act like veils, covering all that simple joy that resides at the center of it all.

I will be honest, some days my tools have been less effective. Sometimes I’m out with friends and I’m so wrapped up in whatever is going on that I lose my center and some days, alone I dig myself in so deep in my mind that it takes several “tools” and some hearty distraction to get me out. The more I learn to recognize my states of being and the more I train myself towards this lightness of being, the easier it is to get there.

I was told back when I was a kid that the mental illnesses I was diagnosed with would be with me always, however I no longer identify myself as “sick”. In fact I’m healthier now than I even have been before. Sure, I may brood more than the people around me, but rather than allow myself to be a victim of my mind, I choose to use my weakness as a point of growth.

I look back to when I was a teenager, trapped in my fear, and I think, “Holy cow! Look how far I’ve come.” I struggle, yes, without a doubt, but I also, for the first time feel like I’m the one in charge as I learn to navigate this wonderful life.

Peace to you,

Becky

 

Diving for Gold

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Just four days ago, my husband and I drove south from our home in Flagler Beach, Florida, towards Key West. As we made our way along a thin stretch of highway that connects an archipelago of islands  I started seeing ads for scuba diving adventures.

I had always fantasized about diving, but the thought of it also terrified me. My slight fear of the ocean coupled by my experiences getting sea sick kept it from ever becoming a reality.

Yet somehow, out of my mouth I heard myself say to my husband: “Let’s go scuba diving.”

The terrified, wimpy-self in my head thought, Are you crazy? We don’t scuba dive.

But bold me pressed on, “Come on…Let’s do it!” I said out loud, convincing my husband .

After all, everything else in my life lately has been about letting go, facing my fears, why not do this one too? This trip to the Keys was a bold move in itself as we were leaving the kids longer than we ever had before and I knew my husband, celebrating twenty years together, had issues to resolve that would certainly come up during this trip.

When Shawn gave me the okay I called a Key West based scuba diving outfitters called Try Scuba Diving, Key West and scheduled our trip. The next day we met these three great guys, our guides: John, Stephan, and Peter.

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The boat was neatly organized with a row of vests, air tanks, flippers, and such. On the boat was a sweet German couple who were visiting the US, bounding from adventure to adventure on a Florida whirlwind trip. Our guides created a mellow, happy mood that instantly put me at ease.

However when the boat pulled into the bay, I panicked wondering if the motion sickness meds had time to take effect, but the skies were crisp and blue, the water calm and emerald green. The summer breeze blew against my face and within moments I had forgotten to worry about sea sickness. I was perfectly fine.

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We stopped in the shallow water…just four feet deep to try out the vests and tanks and learn the basics of diving. I settled myself down in the water and found myself at ease breathing through the tank.

We got back in the boat and headed to our official dive spot for the day. I was ready to go. We plunged down into the water and suddenly things didn’t feel so easy. There had been a storm the night before so things were a bit cloudy—maybe with 15 foot visibility. We could still see plenty, but it wasn’t the picture perfect, crystal clear Jacques Cousteau moment I imagined and I felt a little closed in.

I was in an alien world. I could not speak, ask questions, or even really communicate through facial expressions. Nothing was real. Nothing went by the rules of this world, not even the way I propelled myself through space. It was life with completely new guidelines. And although it was exciting on some levels, my scared, control-freak self constantly wanted to take the reins and swim back up to the surface.

At one point during my initial panic I noticed my diligent guide was pantomiming to me, his hands going slowly up and down over his chest like a Tai Qi master.

“Breathe,” he was telling me. I understood!

Instantly I let myself relax and feel my breath. It wasn’t so bad.

As time passed and I learned to regulate my buoyancy with my breath I started to feel as if I had some control. Although that scared little voice in my head was still chatting away, I found a way to turn her volume way down.

The fish were cool. I even saw a giant crab and a turtle…but that wasn’t what this trip was about for me…this time around it was about mastering my fear of the unknown and most importantly letting go of my need for control.

When I realized we had made our way back to the anchor of the boat, I saw our guide give us the sign for “up”. I felt my heart sink.

No….I want more! I thought. But sadly this trip was over.

On the boat ride back my husband and I looked at each other and smiled, high on our fantastic underwater adventure.

“When are we going to do this again?” I asked and together we discussed the logistics of getting our kids out scuba diving with us next time.

Something happened on that trip to the Keys. I found gold, but it wasn’t in the form of a coin at the bottom of the ocean, nor was it in a “mermaid moment” where I felt completely free and alive swimming about.

Instead I found gold in the work, in the effort of calming myself, finding my center. The gem of my Key West trip came from the struggle, from that little battle I had with my terrified ego, who wanted nothing more than to swim to the surface and hang on for dear life to that boat.

My treasure came from refusing to give in to that dark, timid side of myself and instead, nurture that piece of me that whispers: “everything is alright” “have faith” “you are safe”.

Just as I had anticipated, in spite of our wonderful water adventure, the car ride home with my husband, brought up a lot of the relationship grime, that I knew we had to deal with.

As we talked I noticed that many times in my relationships I’ve wanted to flee—just like I did in the ocean. It’s as if I want to say, “Alright. I’m done with this shit! Bring me back to the boat. This is too hard!”

But now I’m wondering if I can treat my relationships more like I treated that dive. Don’t feed the fear…instead listen for that other voice, the one who loves us unconditionally who is there whispering in her sweetness- “Do not fear. You are okay.”

I tell my daughter from time to time that the bravest people aren’t the ones who go out and do things fearlessly, but the ones who are scared and do them anyway. I think I’m one of the brave ones. (As are you!)

Bravery comes in all forms, whether its in getting in a boat and diving deep under the water, or looking at your relationships head on and acknowledging the ways you may struggle with your capabilities as a good friend, a wife, a parent, a lover.

Sometimes the treasure isn’t in a tangible object like a shiny coin, but in Love itself. The bounty comes from making the choice to not swim for the surface, but instead to stay deep down, even when things feel scary.

Today and every day I take a dive into the ocean of my own heart, and whatever darkness, whatever murkiness I uncover I keep on swimming, because I know from my depths everything is okay.

Keep on swimming.

In Love,

Becky

 

Night Vision

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Author’s Note: I was having trouble sleeping the other night, so I got up and started writing.  I have to say I was a bit surprised when this came out….

Once there was a princess, who had everything she ever wanted, but her life still felt empty. So, one night, while the palace was asleep, she slipped out the iron gate into the woods. The girl followed a trail of silver light along a path, lead only by the beckoning call of frogs within the wood.

Deep in the forest of pines, she stopped and stared at the moon. Away from the castle, this moon was much more beautiful than she ever knew. There beneath its brightness, she found herself smiling, experiencing a happiness she forgot she knew. So, alone among the oaks and pines, she danced in her shimmering gown of gold, her lithe body making silhouettes against the moonlit ground.

Every night, intoxicated by its greatness, she went into the wood and danced, sure that she could feel the moon’s silver kiss on her skin. In her gratitude, she brought her dear moon gifts: a white feather, a beautiful stone, and a deep green leaf. And although this celestial being did not speak, she decided she needed no thanks, for its constant glow alone was all she asked for.

Then one night, when she stepped out onto the trail, she could not see. The frogs did not sing, the crickets did not chirp. Her path was total darkness. Stumbling her way out to her space in the forest, she looked up to the sky and called out.

“Oh, moon? Moon? Where have you gone?” But there was no answer, only the cool breeze of the whispering wind.

The princess in the golden gown went home and wept. She cried, angry at herself as it dawned on her thatperhaps this moon, this creature of the night, was never hers to begin with.

What sort of foolish girl falls in love with the moon? she thought.

In her grief she was left empty… just a hollow girl, alone.

One night sleep refused to come. She lay awake in bed, her curtains open, looking to the black sky. Breathing long, slow breaths, she felt as if every golden spark of joy she ever knew was lost in the woods during the nights before.

As she lay there gazing at the subtle movement of blackened clouds, she heard a distant call.

Hoo, hoo, hoo….

The call of an owl.

She had heard once that owls were messengers of death, and in her sorry state death seemed dully appropriate.

Death of love, death of hope… she thought under a heavy dose of self-pity.

Hoo, hoo, hoo, it called again.

She covered her head with a pillow, but the owl kept on calling.

Fed up, she went to her window and opened it. On a nearby oak stood a white owl, its yellow eyes looking at her. It ruffled its feathers as if mocking her sorry state.

“Go away,” she called to it, but it merely flapped its wings and flew to a closer branch.

Determined to scare off this harbinger of death, she ran out of her room, down the stairs, out the palace gate, and onto the trail. The owl up ahead flapped its wings and glided in complete silence to a tree ahead. She followed.

And so it went–the owl, moving from tree to tree and the princess following behind, determined to scare it far away from the castle. This went on for quite some time until the princess paused and looked around. She was deep in the woods, alone, in the dark, without her moon.

However in that moment something strange happened. She realized that even without the moon above, she was not blind.

Far from it!

In fact, her eyes had become so well adjusted she could see the details in the bark of the trees, the dancing leaves on their limbs, and the tiny movement of small creatures on the ground.

Hoo hoo, the owl called again.

Then there, in this subtle darkness, she felt a change within herself. A warmth grew from within her chest. Her own heart was alive with radiance. This loving energy flowed outward towards her hands, her legs, her feet, until she was wrapped in that same luscious joy she felt from the moon, but tenfold!

As she stood in rapture, she wondered if maybe it was not the love she received from the silent moon that had driven her dance, but something grander, something that reached beyond the sky, beyond the forest…outward, full circle, then back into her own heart.

And so that night, beneath the cloud covered sky she danced, bathed not in moon light, but at light that came from within.

To this day, you will still find the princess in the golden gown out dancing in the forest. Sometimes it will be with the wise, old trees, the playful frogs, or the noisy crickets, and sometimes it will even be with her dear old moon, but regardless of who accompanies her each night, one thing stands the same: you will always find that princess dancing with joy, illuminating her world with her own golden heart.

 

Authors Note: To me this is a story about being pulled by our own desire for happiness, and the mistake we make grounding it in material things–people, objects, places, believing that they will cure your woes, but in the end all  these things are fleeting. Like the princess in the golden gown, it’s not until we learn to find that inner joy-that love of Self that we can be truly content with ourselves and our world.  The moon didn’t have all the answers, only the girl did, within herself.

All you can really work on is yourself.  That’s it. As my friends Tim and Marybeth say, “It’s an inside job.” 

That it is.

May you  dance everyday of your life by the golden glow of your heart.

Peace,

Becky

 

 

 

Great Expectations (according to Luke Skywalker)

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Remember the scene in Empire Strikes Back when Luke is facing Yoda’s trials in the cave on Dagobah? There he faces Darth Vader in a lightsaber battle, only to find after decapitating him that beneath Darth’s mask is Luke’s own face.

That’s how I feel lately…..maybe minus the light sabers.

Some days I feel like I’ve been up against insurmountable “bad guys”, the kind of people who I seem to meet over and over again in my life. These people come in many incarnations, with different guises, but their MO is always the same.

They are never satisfied. These are people who beg for your love, yet nothing you do will satiate their need. Everything is conditional. They are what the Chinese call hungry ghosts. In China they depict these people as ghoulish beings with over sized stomachs and tiny mouths. Never can they feel full.

And so all along my life I complained incessantly about these people, who seemed to haunt me at every turn. I even wrote a book series about them (www.HungryGhostBooks.com) As far as I was concerned I gave and gave but never received.

In these scenarios I always saw myself as a bit of a hero—the do gooder. You know, like Luke Skywalker. I was the bold giver, who loves these people so much that she risks losing herself, wasting away, in some sort of glorious act of devotion…A picture perfect martyr, no?

Lately this whole Luke scenario keeps popping up in my head, especially when I’m meditating. I know this is weird, but once in a while, as I sit there alone with my breath, an intrusive thought pops up and I feel myself not as me but as these other people, the ones who have caused me so much trouble along the way. Part of me is thinking, “What the f#$@”and I try to push it down. When it doesn’t go down I push harder.

I’ve learned however that the most important part of meditation is to simply be with your thoughts. Don’t feed them, but also don’t fight them.

And so, that is what I did…I sat with the yuckiness.

In the process I’m learning something…I am not just the good guy in this movie I call “My Life”, in fact many times I am the never-satisfied one, demanding more of my friends, of my husband, of my kids than they could ever give. And like my adversaries, occasionally my expectations are so high that I put them in the position of the feeder, scooping their version of love into me faster than I can swallow.

This is a horrible thing to think about yourself, but I believe, like all of us, I too am a creature of the darkside. It cannot be denied.

When we’re in those dark winding caverns, we have a choice. With our light saber drawn we can knock our enemies down, we can run from their unshrouded masks, or we can acknowledge who they really are. Light and dark.

Rather than hating our enemies we can pause and acknowledge that maybe in some ways they are only us in disguise.

Loving one’s self, without condition, without expectation is perhaps one of the hardest tasks we are set out to do in this life. We all are hungry ghosts on some level, looking for an idealized  image that will never be, but when we wander the corridors of life, sometimes we see that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and we know, even in our darkest moments that each of us hold in our hands all of the beauty and perfection we ever wanted.

And we are forgiven….unconditionally.

In this maze that we all walk through, all we can do is love. I say that over and over again…it’s so simple but it’s perhaps the only real thing we can do.

Love and forgive.

May the Force be with you.

Peace,

Becky

 

 

Little Did I Know

 

I’m riding my motorcycle down Old Dixie Highway. The trees are arching overhead; thirty feet high. Below, the woods are thick with palmettos, gnarly oaks, and scraggly pines. The air is cool as it courses past my cheeks, across my arms. I am alive with intensity.

I am a new rider. This is the second time that I’ve ridden the historic Ormond Scenic Loop and I’m all in, focused intently on keeping up with the bike in front of me, watching my acceleration, braking when needed, turning with the curves.

As I ride, a funny tune pops into my head “ram, ram, sita ram.” It’s Sanskrit…and actually not a song at all but a chant I had been listening to the previous week, with hopes of gaining a sense of balance and calm that I have sought for a very long time.

So, as I focus intently on keeping my bike rolling and this little mantra chimes in my head, I smile. Here I am a Jewish housewife riding a motorcycle, singing a Hindu chant as I ride to Daytona Beach for a bike rally. But as absurd this may seem, in this little moment it makes perfect sense. I’m exactly where I should be. And although not in my wildest dreams could I have ever pictured myself in this situation, I’m where I always wanted to be. Simply here.

Of course, my mind still wants to rattle on. It wants to think serious, deep thoughts about my “complicated” life. My emotions want to take me on unneeded trips, egging me on with all sorts of drama, but my heart, this little thing in the center of it all, is simply present…there with the road. In this moment as everything stills the only things I know are the actions of my feet…my hands….my heart.

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I have recently taken up meditation as a daily practice…and I have to say as difficult as learning to ride a motorcycle has been for me, I think mediation is harder.

Just you try, telling this neurotic, obsessive Jewish girl to not think…to just sit and be. Ha! Preposterous.   But I’m doing it…with the help of my lovely motorcycle rides…and a dedication to end this cycle of suffering, to be the present for the people I love, and to bring joy to this world.

So, here I am, embarking on the hardest thing I have ever agreed to do… making a vow to myself to be with my heart…to no longer live in fear, greed and selfishness. I know I’m going to screw up. Of course I will! It’s part of the learning curve. There’s no exact road map for me to follow. I will make mistakes…just like I know I will probably spend many meditation sessions trying not to attach to the chatty noise in my head. I will still hurt and I will still fall, but I will try my best to do it with compassion, forgiveness and the heartfelt intent to make good in this world.

And so, I plan to write good stories, love my family, be good to my friends, ride my bike, sing goofy mantras, and mediate  all with the intent of doing what I discovered that day beneath the trees on my motorcycle…. Being here now with beauty, love, and joy.

There’s nowhere else to be.

Peace.

 

Love everyone, tell the truth…and bake cookies

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Picture in your mind-India, 1970. Young Americans in the prime of life have arrived in droves to a foreign land with hopes of finding a guru who will give their lives meaning.

At one particular ashram is a guru named Neem Karoli Baba (also known as Maharaj-ji). One of the “kids” who stumbled onto him was Richard Alpert, a former Harvard professor who coincidentally had just been doing a lot of acid with colleague Timothy Leary. Well, for Richard (now Ram Dass) the acid wasn’t enough, which was why he came to India to find the real answers. And apparently he did.

So one day at the ashram Ram Dass was pissed off. Not only at everyone in the camp but also at himself. I can only imagine that living on a diet of bland lentil stew and being in close quarters with a bunch of hippies with hang ups was not an easy thing to do.

So all the students were sitting around their guru eating (lentil stew), when Ram Dass showed up late. He was still pissed. Maharaj-ji sensed his frustration and said kindly, “Ram Dass, come join us…remember love everyone and tell the truth.”

Well, I’m guessing Maharaj-ji’s words just pissed him off more. Not liking how he felt towards his friends, Ram Dass took a deep breath and began slicing an apple.

He knew serving food in anger was like feeding people poison, so he slowly went from person to person serving them apples, looking deeply in their eyes, until he felt love for each and every one of them. And it worked! After serving them all he felt a sense of calm and peace and was no longer angry.  Just handing out apple slices changed his whole state of mind!

Fast forward to 2016 (yesterday!). Now it’s me who’s pissed. Like Ram Dass…I was feeling mad at everyone, especially myself. My life seems to be riddled with heart wrenching conflict and I was having trouble seeing any way out.

That morning Polishing the Mirror by Ram Dass had arrived in the mail. As these things go I happened to open right to this story of the apples and the guru. The timing was perfect.

Inspired by the tale, I decided to bake. I made cookies, but not like I normally do. As I cracked each egg, scooped out that tiny spoonful of salt, then compacted the brown sugar deep into the measuring cup I breathed and smiled. As I divided the dough onto the cookie sheets I sung along to music, totally in the moment.

When the cookies were done, they looked perfect. I packed them up in little containers and delivered them to the important people in my life.

As I handed them out I allowed myself to feel unconditional love to the recipients—that same love that Ram Dass felt towards all his potentially annoying hippie friends.

Love everyone. Tell the truth.

I love this notion. I hope to devote my life to these words, but, I’m no fool. I promise you, some days it will not be easy, because people make me mad! They really do. No one sees things the way I do. Their goals, their motives seem diametrically opposed to mine..and quite frankly sometimes they’re just plain ridiculous!

But…but! I love them.  Because between the space of “you and I” is “US”.   And sure, it’s cheesy and hippie-dippy but WE are one. That gap we feel between us is only imaginary. It’s a construct we have all created. When we look deeply at one and other, down to the core, we see only love.

I can’t fix people…I can’t change them…and on some days I can’t even understand them, but I can love them and in that process of truly loving others, I am truly loving myself….and the world.  You can’t feel one without the other.

So maybe next time you’re making food for your friends or family or even just handing a beer to a friend, think of those words: “Love everyone. Tell the truth,” and see what happens.

Let me know what happens. I’d love to hear your stories.

Peace. Namaste.

Becky

P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day!!

 

2015: The Year I Found my Heart

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I reclined back in a big, lazy boy chair in the office of Sue David, an 85 year old hypnotist who I had met a few weeks before. I didn’t even know why I was there really…curiosity I suppose.

Sue’s voice was even and calm and my mind easily followed it as she led me through a healing exercise. Guided by her words I envisioned my blood pumping through my body bringing nourishment and health throughout it.

I was listening, feeling calm and to my surprise completely in control…in fact I remember wondering what all this business was on focusing on healthy blood and such, when something she said, I don’t remember what exactly, triggered something deep within me.

It felts as if my heart burst open…flooded with love, like liquid gold pouring out in a perpetual ecstatic flow. Warmth covered my body and in that moment I knew all was good. All of it. Even in the suffering, I was loved.

I don’t think Sue’s intent was to send me into a euphoric journey, but for whatever reason it worked. I spent the next few days feeling a gentle, blissful high that no drug, no medication could equate with.

The thing is it kept going. I started doing self-hypnosis daily and because I’m not good at listening to what anyone tells me, I crafted my own version that somehow melds hypnosis with mediation, shamanistic journeying and prayer. Really, I’m just sitting alone in my bedroom, breathing deep and letting myself be, dropping the pretenses of all my fears, simply speaking to the darkness and the wisdom within. Maybe I’m talking to God, maybe I’ve connected to my soul, or maybe it’s simply mild psychosis….I don’t know…frankly what you call it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever it is, I go back to it whenever I can and let life flow through me, reminding me of who I truly am.

I could end the story there and you’d think “Well then, this chick has it all figured out” but quite the contrary. Life is life and the pendulum always swings, and I will tell you, glowing heart or not, this has been one f%*@ing hard year.

Probably too existential for my own good this golden outpouring of my heart opened me so far, so wide, that I was left no longer knowing which way to go.  I questioned everything…my purpose, my destiny…but instead of rewriting my book entirely, abandoning the solid path, of all things, I bought a motorcycle. So now rather than giving up on everyone I love, I not only have my devoted husband, my kids, and the strongest, most fantastic friendships I’ve ever had, but I also have a cute little Honda Rebel 250 that reminds me I can do whatever I set my mind to (plus gets me to 70mph on the open road!)

I have learned through my dear friend Marybeth (aka Marydreds!!) the phrase “let go, and let god”. I use it almost daily. And I tell you, when I let go of my need to control, my need to micromanage all the little outcomes in my life, miracles happen. These aren’t big miracles, like the parting of the red sea or anything, but instead they are little messages, signs, as if the Universe is saying “ yes….yes…you’re doing everything as you should.” It is in these moments I feel an out pouring of love towards myself, my friends, strangers, “enemies”!! I see their struggles, their fear, the pain, and love them unconditionally.

I’m just a baby on this road. I’m making it up as I go. Like all of us, my karmic path is thick with crap I’ve accumulated over a lifetime (or more!). Most the time it feels like I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m saying the wrong things, getting upset over silly stuff, feeling jealousy, greed, rage…but something has changed, just a little. I’m not taking it all too seriously. I’m standing a few feet back from my problems looking in and smiling, because for the first time I see the whole of it…like seeing the yin and yang, not for it’s separate pieces, but for its whole.

A few months back my wonderful friend Tim was teasing me incessantly for my overuse of the word amazing. Life is amazing…and it’s beautiful…but it’s also horrible and hard. The trick is as I’m learning from him is to walk the line, not get so swept up in the extremes. Bliss is fantastic.  Joy and euphoria are the things that make life sweet, but the higher you climb, the harder you fall.

The Buddhists, as I understand it, try to remove themselves from the wheel of life, the incessant spinning, the ups and downs. And so, following this logic, I go into this new year, standing back…ever so slightly, fully participating, yet also aware there is beauty and joy in letting go and not holding too tight onto the “should be’s” and the illusions of “ever afters.”

As I rode my motorcycle the other day over the huge bridge that crosses into Flagler Beach, looking at the expansive Atlantic Ocean I once again felt that ecstatic outpouring of joy.  As the blissful sensation filled my being I smiled knowing everything is perfect, just as it is.

Life is hard, but it is also magnificent.

I don’t have all the answers—not in the least, but I know right now, in this golden moment, life is good.

Peace.

May the wisdom of your soul whisper sweet words in your ear…and may you always be ready to hear it.

Happy holidays!!!

Love,

Becky

Street Performer Wisdom…

I was walking down the street on Beach Street in Downtown Daytona Beach when I saw a street performer, a drummer, maybe in his mid fifties enjoying our mellow Florida weather.  He had a little basket with dollar bills in it as her sat situated in front of a little vegetarian bistro.  I stopped and said hello and he looked up at me with a wonderful smile…one of those smiles that comes from deep in the heart.

He looked at me a kept on grinning. As I was going for my wallet and he said “What a beautiful woman you are.”  Now I suppose one could say he was simply buttering me up, or maybe trying to make a move but that is not the sense I got, he was seeing ME.  Not looking at my goofy pants I had on or the state of my wild curly hair, but he was enchanted simply because I was who I am.

Of course my ego was stroked  a thousand times…I can be insecure about these things, so yes, it made me feel marvelous. But it wasn’t about the surface stuff, I had the sense this this stranger, this guy on a street corner got ME.

We talked for a bit more and in passing I mentioned my husband and the gentleman said, “Well, tell your husband that Spice Man says he’s a very lucky man.”

Spice Man!  What a funny, wonderful man.  I wish I had got his picture to share because he was so beautiful too!

So, very appropriately I came across this marvelous little video shared by a friend on facebook this morning.  Forget the violence in the news, the insane politicians, the noise of negative self talk and fear that follows us all and  watch this video… and know that you are beautiful too.

Peace my friends.  Have a great day.