Awareness

Moment to Moment

Lately it has been difficult for me to live in the moment. I talk all the time about how living in the moment is what we should aim for as spiritual seekers. It is just that it is currently difficult for me to return to the now.

In the now there is pressure, deadlines, commitments, sorrows, pain and confusion.

Off in my la-la land, there are mountains to climb, and stretches of forest to explore. In the future, there is passion and adventure.

But right now, I am not feeling much passion and I openly groan at the slimmest hint of leaving my house.

Really? Now?

Can’t I just lay down for a bit longer? I am so tired of all this “schtuff” happening all around me.

I feel like I am standing in the midst of swirling winds and debris. And all the debris is from my life and it is all yelling at me.

“Do this now!”

“This is late!”

“You meant to have this done by now!”

“What are you waiting for?”

“People are depending on you!”

“Get with the program!”

And all I want to yell back is, “Bite ME!”

But then I remember … this is not about being in the now. This is about being in the Manifest realm. I love to swim in the ethereal, the astral and within the unknowing. But here on earth, I have things to do, people to meet and places to be.

A dear friend once told me that returning to earth for me felt like a trip through the underworld. And she is right.

As I sit with this insight, I slowly remember how coming to the present moment use to feel like for me. And as I slow down the moment, expanding my sense of now, once again there is peace, calm and openness. And of all the sounds around me, no one and nothing is yelling at me.

Now this is the grace I recall. And all I had to do was remember … and open.

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Thu, 08/25/2011 - 5:57pm.

Pruning the Azaleas

This past Saturday was spent out in my yard. I wanted to finally pull all the vines off of my poor azalea bush by the side porch. Over the years, it has had its beautiful pink blossoms obscured by the green of the invading vines so often that whole portions of it seldom see the light of day.

I start at the bottom near the stairs into the temple. I pull up several roots with twisted vines spiraling out in all directions. I climb up to begin cutting vines here and there knowing it will now be easier to pull out the other ends at the far side of the bush.

I find my self following the vines down into the heart of the plant, weaving my fingers through branches and smashed blossoms hoping to avoid cutting living growth.

But then we find some are so wedded to the azaleas, we cannot help but cut off the lost portions. Finally we are at the bottom of the plant. And now as we grasp at the roots and dig into the soil, we find that yes the bush itself must be pruned so we can get closer to the core.

So we begin judiciously cutting just those that obscure our path. But soon, the pruning reaches higher as we clear a path to the source of the infestation.

After a while, the last root is cleared.

But my poor bush, it seems so open and vulnerable now that we can see its inner structure.

“Now there can be new growth”, my compatriot reassures me.

I nod in assent, but the sadness seeps out of my pores.

Yes, there will be new growth, but till then she will look so small and brave.

--

And if you think I am talking only about my azaleas, you have not been paying attention.

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Mon, 05/23/2011 - 2:42pm.

Stories I Tell Myself

I had one of those moments the other day. One of those moments that clarifies the rift between reality and perception. And this time I had the privilege of getting to sit on both sides … at the same time.

Several weeks ago, I met a man while shopping in the hardware store that recently opened in our area. I had shopped there a few times before and this time I was returning to get more keys made. The man that helped me was about my own age and was also a DC native – a rarity these days.

We reminisced about the old days and bygone fixtures of our generation. And we were hitting it off just delightfully. As I paid for my keys, we exchange telephone numbers with the promise of coffee and further conversations.

As I walked out the door, he followed me out. Then it happened, the first anomaly. I turned toward him to say goodbye, and he said something rude and crude. I was in shock. What happened to that wonderful man in the store? Where had my generational and geographical kinsmen gone? In 15 seconds, he had wiped away all the good will and rapport we had built together in the store. What the hell?!!?

He turned and walked cheerfully back into the store as if nothing had happened. He left me a single message in my voice mail, and I have not called him back

When I spoke of the incident with my mentor, he thought maybe the man had interpreted my “tough upbringing” as synonymous with having no boundaries or standards. But that statement was my second anomaly. That was not how the men in my life had ever spoken to me, it was what men yelled out of cars and construction sites; it was the language of sexual harassers everywhere in my experience.

As I recalled, the men of my generation and older were respectful and careful with their language when talking directly to a woman in which they had a serious interest, and quite frankly would watch their language around older women always. So why would anyone think otherwise? Not just to engage in the behavior but to also equate it with *my* “tough upbringing?”

I came head to head with the reality of my upbringing and the perceptions others have of it along with my perceptions of my standing as a middle age woman who grew up hard but made a success out of her life and the reality of what it really meant by today’s standards.

Now clearly that man was just acting inappropriately and Dr. Conforti can only infer what my childhood might have been like by looking back on his own tough upbringing. But there was a message within this moment for me. I needed to reexamine my assumptions about how I presented myself to the world – a reexamination that was long over due.

As I turned this over in my mind, I remembered other time and places where how was treated seemed not only inappropriate but also demeaning in many ways. At the time, I had just filed them under the category of bad experiences.

Clearly I am out of step with some of the realities of today’s world. Because either my story about succeeding against all odds was not working for me, or worse it was even working against me – even though my story was both true, and noteworthy.

So is there something in my story that seems to provide a license for folks to behave badly or worse, to not take me seriously?

Am I contributing to the field of oppression by overemphasizing my source culture while deemphasizing my education, my experience or my skills? And where else might I contribute to a devaluing of my core worth?

And finally, how do my stories inhibit my ability to see the world or myself with anything approaching clarity?

I am going to sit with these questions a while and let it settle within the container of my practice.

But as I ask my students, what stories do you tell yourself? And how do they help or hinder your development and your evolution?

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 5:55pm.

When it is not Workaholism

Talk about being knocked off my foundations, I feel like I am in totally new territory and my compass is spinning wildly. Whoa!

The last half of my life has been defined by my continuing struggle with my workaholism. I struggle to find time for myself, limit my [over] commitments and even set my watch to remind me to look after my physical needs. I felt like I was sparring with a ravenous beast. And this beast compelled me to work, work, work … all the time.

But today, my mentor suggested that maybe it is not workaholism that drives me. That maybe instead I am being driven by a need for validation, acceptance and acknowledgement – desperate to be seen for who I really am.

Growing up “East of the River”, as we say it here in DC, leaves a mark on you. I have met others who had similar marks. Growing up on the wrong side of town, the wrong side of the tracks, the wrong religion, the wrong gender, the wrong ethnicity, the wrong abilities, etc., marks you not just as an outsider, but also as deficient in some way.

And so I wonder if I am pushing myself in order to prove my worth as an individual to the world. All these years, have I been working my tail off to prove that I wasn’t a token, an affirmative action hire or a stereotype?

So I am sitting with this feedback.

My mediations occur within a cloud of a single question – “Who would I be if I had nothing to prove?”

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Tue, 11/16/2010 - 1:47pm.

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