Kali & Me: A New Love Affair

Good kaliNo, I don’t have a new love interest. But I have fallen in love with someone unlikely – Kali.

Kali is the Hindu Goddess of Time and Change. She is a fierce warrior, wife of Shiva, the Lord of Death, and a kick butt goddess who is all about embracing chaos and change.

She’s my girl. Even though she always wears a necklace of human sculls, has a whole lot of blue arms, and never stops sticking out her bloody tongue.

Kali got all of her gnarly jewelry helping a fellow goddess fight off a whole battlefield of demons. Her bloody tongue came from sucking the blood from the head demon – and then putting the rest of them in her mouth. She was not afraid to do the unthinkable.

So Kali became associated with the chaos necessary for true transformation.

Accepting my daughter Teal’s death was such a moment for me. Like Kali, I stood in that hospital room surveying the scene of my broken, half-dead child and I knew what I had to do. God whispered in my ear, telling me that my destiny had arrived. I merely had to accept and say yes, and understand that I was not in charge.

We all must pass through radical re-awakenings at certain times in our lives. And if we’re paying attention, what we get is transcendence.

So it was in this present chaos that Grace occurred and I was delivered.

I always knew this time would come, when I would serve the world on a much bigger level. Though I never knew exactly what it would look like.

In a childlike way I always assumed it would involve phone calls, contracts, agents and possibly Oprah. But life provided a much truer, more powerful scenario – one that was sure to do the trick.

They call Kali ‘The Redeemer of the Universe’. For me, she represents the courage to get things done – even if they are unpleasant or frightening. And even if someone else doesn’t like it. Kali is about doing what you must do in service to God and your own purpose.

Before her death Teal introduced me to the Goddesses – an assortment of female deities from many beliefs that she prayed and meditated to every day. Only now, a year and a half after her death, have I begun to appreciate the truth behind their stories and the comfort of their support.

I’ve gotten to know them by using Teal’s pack of Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards, created by Doreen Virtue.

The entry for Kali reads:

I sing praises to those whose hearts accept the Universal order, which only appears to be chaotic and ever-changing. In actuality, everything is designed down to the smallest detail. The dance of the Universe is a happy one, with energy swirling and twirling in a never-ending celebration of life itself. Join this dance, dear one, and enjoy the remarkable journey of the weavings of the story of your life. Do not fear what appears to be a change or a loss. It’s only the transitioning orbit of energy interplaying with you and your loved ones. Embrace it as evidence that you’re alive. Embrace your deepest emotions as a signal of your true human essence.

And so it was that I met Kali directly the other day.

While meditating on the new Joy Studio I am about to launch, I envisioned a board meeting of my guides – and in walked Kali, representing the spirit of my project.

Kali was bold, direct, and fearless as usual. And she sat at the head of the table. So I feel powered up, a little braver than usual, and more ready than ever to give these newly inspired gifts.

As a friend pointed out – you can get a lot done with all those arms.

God Bless you Kali and the rest of the Goddesses. I dance with you like never before – and so I dance with life and with myself in a truly ecstatic waltz of joy.

Meeting My Family Again … For the First Time

sisters holding hands.403For the last three weeks I have been staying with family in New York City and the Philadelphia suburbs not far from where I grew up. Originally the decision was practical – waiting in the East Coast for my nephew’s wedding on my way home to California from Europe.

What I never could have guessed was how important this time would become to me.

I have gotten to know these people from a whole new perspective – that of the more sensitive, humbler person I have become since my daughter’s death. But then love for family was one of Teal’s highest values in life … so why should I be surprised?

A few years before her death, Teal brought our entire, sometimes fractured family together in celebration of my long-dead father’s 100th birthday. She never knew him nor did she know many of the relatives involved. But somehow Teal decided this was something she had to do, so she simply picked up the phone and made it happen.

It bothered her profoundly that our family wasn’t closer, that we had let the molehills of a dysfunctional family become small mountains. To Teal that was simply wasted love.

There was a snowstorm the weekend of the reunion she planned. Teal’s plane from Austin got cancelled, so she never made it to the party. But the rest of us managed to gather in Philadelphia from all over the East Coast and as far away as Kentucky and Ohio. The celebration was amazing as we found ties and connections even to relatives we hadn’t seen for thirty years.

The old stories got told, the memories shared, the glasses lifted. The inexorable bonds of family were alive and real once again and filled with love. But then as we retreated back to our lives, the importance of this deep connection got lost in the electronic deluge of the everyday.

The next time we gathered was, ironically, for Teal’s memorial two years later. This time we came together as people who were simply heartbroken. Now we genuinely needed each other. And so it has been ever since.

On this visit home, I found myself so much more able to just relax and be with everyone. The urgency to work my own agenda is gone now, as is my old bossy critic — the one who thought she knew just how everyone should do everything.

Including my poor family.

The old grudges dried up and disappeared, the easy triggers were not so easily triggered. Instead, for possibly the first time ever, I found I could actually listen and learn who these people actually are.

But this is the humility that comes with great suffering. If you pay attention it can actually make your life far happier in the long run.

I spent a particularly memorable few days staying with my oldest sister Lisa and her husband. Lisa left home for college when I was three, which meant two things in our family. She took care of me like a mother in those early years, and I never got to know her as well as my middle siblings.

On my visits in the past we never made time for anything more than a quick lunch. After which I’d go hurrying back to the home of my brother and his wife, the siblings I certainly know the best in adulthood and with whom I’ve spent the most time.

But now I have that opportunity to know Lisa far more deeply – as I have had with my middle sister Sarah. For more than a year, Sarah and I have gotten on the phone every week and just … talked. And those conversations have fed us in a unique and beautiful way.

It doesn’t matter that we live 2300 miles apart or that she’s a devout Episcopalian and I’m ‘Spiritual Not Religious’. Or even that she’s a practical thinker and I’m a wild creative spirit. Nor does it matter that Lisa is a dedicated lover of dogs, horses, and tennis, none of which I’m likely to have in my life.

What matters are those shared chromosomes of love – the fusing of our spirits in a furious world. Our differences are merely the stuff of great conversations – simple food to learn from. And are commonalities are points of pure joy.

The people who have always known you will never stop knowing you. And on some deep level they will never stop loving you.

No matter what.

Is there someone you might share this with today — someone you love but seldom spend time who knows you better than anyone else? Simply scroll up and click your preferred social media button above. Thanks!

When In Doubt, Grow Apples

appleblossoms.FBLately I’ve been having some powerful lessons in relaxing, letting go of a ‘schedule’ for my work, and trusting God to deliver me to the perfect business.

This is how it looks when you are an entrepreneur doing your best to work with your guidance. Sometimes you have SUCH a clear path it’s awesome! Things are clicking, you charge ahead, your work meets perfect buyers and all is well. Right brain meets left and it all works!

Then there’s the rest of the time …

That’s when you feel a little lost, but you gamely keep showing up. Money looms as a potential problem – as does the question of success. (Shouldn’t I be having better results by now?) Again and again doubt rears its ugly head.

In my 18 years of running an online business, I have been here a lot. And what I know is that setting up one of these businesses is like growing fruit. It takes time.

Pruning has to happen, as does patience. You need right conditions to grow the fruit, first beginning with the flower. Yet, a blossom is not an apple and feeds no one, even though is smells good and looks pretty. So you can’t stop here and call it ‘done’.

You have to wait a good four months for the blossom to yield an apple – and proper care has to happen for that apple to be all that it can be. After all, isn’t the apple the point?

This is where I am with my own work right now — at the blossom stage. I can see what the work will become. But instead of charging out to make an offer and bring in the buyers, I’m being asked to hold off, develop and test. To let that blossom really become the world’s best apple.

Not only do my ideas need maturing – I do, as well. For as my business grows and morphs, so will I. By  June I will not be the same person I am now, in the cold days of January. My heart will strengthen. My mind will become clearer and clearer. And my soul will bend down to meet my work in the simple grace of connection.

All it takes is the willingness to rest, listen and let go of a rigid plan. And to receive. The apples will come, friend … It just takes a little faith.



Are You a Time Binger? (I Am)

Ikepod-Hourglass-6I don’t know about you, but my mind is in a tizzy these days. It’s the beginning of a new year, and I keep feeling like MORE should be getting done.

Already my resolve to stay grounded and calm as I build mybusiness is giving way to work binging. I find myself emptying out every pocket of time I have to try to make something happen.

I knew I was in trouble the other night at 3AM when I turned on my light and actually reached for my computer to get some work done. That would be work binging. Somehow I stopped myself just in the nick of time.

In the U.S. we live in a culture that rewards overwork. But when you live inside that little pressure cooker for too long, you tend to swing to the opposite extreme. i.e. Wandering around the nearest Target for hours with nothing particular needed, or losing yourself in four consecutive episodes of Downton Abbey. That would be time debting.

And I find I swing between the two extremes … hence, I am a ‘time binger.’

That’s the same part of my psyche that can’t put down the iphone and wants to play Words With Friends for hours on end. But then beats myself up because I’m not moving mountains, instead. And frankly, I’m done with it.

So how do I move ahead?

I know there is a better way – one that is grounded in a more spiritual reality — what author Leslie Keenan calls ‘spiritual time’. As opposed to linear time, which is where all of us overworkers, time debtors and time bingers hang out.

Lately, I’ve been savoring her excellent book, ‘It’s About Time’. This is what is up for me next in my long, meandering path back to myself. I need to balance out my use of time so I neither lose myself in it, nor feel I have to master and control it like some steely dominatrix.

So I’ve begun thoughtfully going through each chapter and doing the exercises. Today’s questions : ‘What would you do if you had more time?’ and ‘How do you deprive yourself of time?’’

(Note to Self: I began this book once already last fall, when I was simply not ready yet to take this on. Timing, ahem, appears to be everything.)

For me I would spend more time each day learning French, I would dance more, and probably spend more time with friends.

And as for how I deprive myself of time? Sigh …

I make too many commitments to myself (i.e. I will plan a new program, promote my book, write a chapter in my new book, and crank out a sales page this afternoon.) I get overwhelmed and flee to the comfort of Facebook, or I surf the Web and bury myself in interesting (and justifiable) articles on internet marketing.

Like I said – or maybe I didn’t – I am a work in progress.

How is your relationship to time?

I will be posting her regularly on my progress. Why not pick up Leslie’s book on amazon and join me in this process? I could use the company! (And, of course, I’d love to hear how you’re doing, as well.)

You’ll find it here.


In Honor of Kwan Yin


A Magical Ending to My Year of Healing

Eiffel tower dusk winter.350px.As 2013 now slips over the horizon, I’d like to say a few things about disappearance and re-emergence, which were my themes for the year.

It has now been more than 16 months since my daughter died, 19 months since my relationship ended. And 18 months since I gave up my business as a marketing consultant.

It’s taken me all this time to come back to myself – a fact that has surprised and humbled me. Historically I always had to achieve and push — and do it fast — to feel good about myself.

This was the year I surrendered for the first time in my life.

Gone was the need to prove myself to anyone. Gone was the desire to charge for my services or be in business at all. Instead, I sat quietly with myself and listened … and felt.  And so I became intimate with myself.

My mother’s death 10 months ago gave me the money to do this. And so slowly – by doing ‘nothing’ — I adjusted to the massive shock my life has gone through.

How hard it was to let go and take care of myself. At first I felt guilty every day. Often I felt worried about money (should I really be spending my retirement?) Often I felt scared by my lack of focus. How long was this going to go on, I demanded of myself … but I had few answers.

I only knew there was a hole, a life-sucking inertia, where the energy and commitment once were. My wise friend Linda told me this was my grief. I felt incompetent. And I was scared of people. I was on an emotional roller coaster that has taken more than a year to settle down.

I simply had to let it run its course.

It felt so naked and vulnerable to just be … me. So I busied myself with background activities, like learning about Facebook advertising. I got audited and felt relief – something to do!

I read book after book about emotional healing. I worked two 12-Step programs relentlessly. I went to a grief counselor. And I cried an inexhaustible well of tears.

I also read voraciously about the afterlife, trying to understand Teal’s world now.

Still the inertia dragged on. So one day I rose up and defiantly announced ‘I am done grieving!”

I wasn’t.

I could practically see Teal’s spirit, doubled over with laughter at how silly I looked with my grappling need for control. Nothing but time was going to change this state of things.

Finally I threw in the towel completely and went to Paris for two months. Because … well, why not? I had the money for a plane ticket and I’d always wanted to go for a stretch. In a nod of agreement, the Universe dropped an incredibly affordable room in a gorgeous apartment into my lap.

I landed in Paris and began to meet people. Friends from the UK came to visit – other mothers who had lost children. And suddenly, we found ourselves planning motivational workshops in England for 2014.

I went to a dinner party and met a remarkable woman with whom another workshop appears to be materializing, this one in Paris. Then – even more remarkably – I found myself suddenly needing a new place to live.

And where would that be? Look around, suggested Spirit.

Within 24 hours I landed in the home of an Australian cabaret singer who has become a great friend and fellow spiritual seeker. Together we discovered a project I’d mothballed 7 years ago might be something she can  use. Thus fulfilling a lifelong dream I’ve nursed of producing a cabaret piece in Paris.

Paris was like a swirl of effervescence to my weary blood. I walked the streets and felt reenergized by everything I saw. Quixotically I met local celebrities, African cabbies, a zesty seventy-something radical, an elegant former runway model – even a contortionist who works by day as a lawyer.

And behind it all, France’s national theme played on like a divinely guided leitmotif: within the deepest pain lies the greatest joy. The two are inextricably linked.

For that is my message, too. Quite naturally, my workshops and talks have begun to bubble up. They are about finding the discovery behind the loss; moving ahead when you feel you’ve lost everything. For in doing so you can finally find the complete and total gift of life.

Somehow, more and more cabaret singers crossed my path as I went, all validating the bittersweet beauty of the Parisian tristesse.

The Edith Piaf song “La Vie en Rose” puts it so well:

Nights of endless love
Great happiness takes its place
Troubles, sorrows disappear
Happy, happy to die of love

 What I know now is that Paris is officially part of my world. I need its black coffee, its Gauloise-smoking lifeblood as much as I need the windy shores of Northern California. All of it is intense, real, and incomparably beautiful.

And it lights my fire completely.

Paris, je t’adores!