TrueHeartWork | courage
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courage Tag

Set Fire to the Rain

There comes a time when we know for sure that we cannot go back to where we were. We pass the point of no return. Make a choice to watch the wild fire burn away all that is  irrelevant in our lives.

And with that first unsupported step across the threshold into the charred landscape,  the unthinkable becomes thinkable.  What we believed was true detonates in the heat haze of our new resolution. We finally realise that the one we adored was not the god or goddess we thought they were. That the job we strove for does not feel as exciting or expansive as we’d imagined. That we have to face the finality of a relationship that is over, a friendship that will never be the same again.

There comes a time when we stand soul-naked in the first light of the morning and watch as our dream  dissolves on the gossamer shawl of the dew-spangled new day. The mirror on our wall finally reveals who we really are. There comes a time when we  surrender, battle-weary, to take ownership of those parts of ourselves that are encased in fear.  We witness  the distrust that writhes like a worm on the cruel hook of our unworthiness and shame. We observe the ways we place trip wires across the landscape of our relationships, setting ourselves up for the inevitable fall… It takes an act of great courage to stand soul-naked in what we feel is our truth.  To uproot  the mandrake of blame that grows from our belief that it is our crazy mother, absent father, our belligerent teenager, the buffoons in government, or the lover who did not choose us, fight for us, beg us to stay…

In the landscape of self-responsibility we grow up fast. No soft blue blankets, no bottles filled with sweet creamy milk.  No one to clean up the mess of our lives as we rant and wail. Our pain becomes our choice. To choose to stop the pain, to wearily dismount from the Ferris wheel of our own suffering, we need to do excruciatingly laborious work on the lies we tell ourselves. We must change our need to be right, to be in control, to dominate, or to play the Victim trump card. We  must to stand on our own two feet. Straighten our spines. Not fold like a soufflé when we don’t get the approval we crave. Not petulantly push away the gentle hand of friendship when we know it is the only hand there is to help us across the crocodile-infested river of our self-undoing. Not sigh as the world around us burns, when it is we that participate in and perpetuate violence by proxy in our very own homes with our flaming arrows of spite and sulphurous silences.

It is excruciatingly difficult to abandon the ship of self-righteousness. To forgo the familiar thrill of pleasing others so they will love us, need us, never let us go. We grow comfortable in our rusty armour of judgement that pinches and chafes. We feel familiar in its painful tug of constraint. Only when we make the choice to see with clarity and compassion the violent parts of ourselves, the parts that judge, and condemn, the parts that execute others with sharp-shooting precision, can we nurture those parts that stretch our capacity for endurance, forgiveness, generosity in Love, bravery in Loss.

Gary Zukav tells the story about the man, blind from birth whose only experience of this world was darkness. Well, new technology offered him a chance of sight, a miracle beyond his imagining. He asked his family, his friends, and his surgeon what it would be like to see, and of course, nobody could really explain to him what it was to see the turquoise sea, the tangerine colours of the sun set, the silvery moon and the diamond stars, the colour of his own blue eyes. The more he talked to his friends, the more fearful he became. He called his doctor and asked, “Doctor, will I still be able to use my cane to see? I don’t want to see if I can’t use my cane.”

In the terror of losing the comfort of our white canes, we clutch what we know, even though it limits our movement forward and darkens the light of our souls: the terror of being vulnerable, of being used, of being loved, of loving and losing, of having more than our parents, of being ridiculed, humiliated, of asking for what we want, of being “needy”, of losing our identity, of being judged… so  we stay small and quiet, stuck in the darkness of our blindness and our fear, afraid to set fire to the rain, afraid to turn towards a future, without  the cane, and say, I AM.

Set fire to the rain today… and celebrate Love and Life in all it’s wonder.

Adele … Set Fire to the Rain.

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Hometown Glory

“My sister’s not talking to me again,” lamented Maggie, who comes from a family that handles “hot potato” issues by abrupt withdrawal, rigidly polarized role-playing, vast, frozen lakes of silence. Behind closed doors, shuttered windows, or on the altar of talk shows we enact archetypal patterns. For most of us, though, family bonds flourish in adversity, survive ruptures, reincarnate in the comfort of shared history and the cohesion of blood ties. For others, feuds fester for generations; anger poisons the food at the dinner table.

 As we grow into adulthood, it is within our family relationships that we are challenged to set the bar high for our personal growth. Our interactions with our parents and siblings ask that we draw from our creative Higher Self to break the cycle of habitual role playing, to short circuit destructive behaviour. We may need to be counterintuitive to breach the walls of a heavily guarded family secret. To ask questions that inspire thought and heart connection, rather than ignite reactivity. To validate and empathise rather than judge or blame. To choose not to react to behaviour that baffles or appears insensitive or cruel, in the knowledge that it rises from an ancient riverbed of pain. Sometimes it is the news of an accident, an affair, a splintering divorce or lingering illness that opens padlocked hearts, draws us together to deal with a family crisis bonded by our blood. Often it means dismounting from our high horse, bowing our heads to our hearts. Asking ourselves, “do you prefer that you be right, or happy?” (A Course in Miracles)

Like a flock of starlings, families have a murmuration, a rhythmic dance of energy that is passed on from generation to generation. Family therapists see “the identified patient”, the disturbed child or adolescent, who comes bearing the symptoms of the psychic life of the family.

Astrology describes a different approach to the standard psychological view. Our birth charts depict our perceptions of our parents, the unconscious conflicts they bring into the family home, family fate… present in the symbolism of our life journey. There is an old adage “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.”  Our horoscopes suggest we certainly do choose our family. Our father’s drinking, his covert affairs, the inconsistent or unavailable mother, our sister’s anger, our brother’s depression, is already innate, depicted in the birth chart. We are predisposed, or “fated” to experience our actual parents and the archetypal parents through inner images, our own filters. We may perceive our father as being rejecting, distant. Frequently our actual father will behave towards us in a way that will be rejecting and distant, despite himself. Our own behaviour and conscious or unconscious feelings will elicit a cold and distant response from this father figure who may have other attributes that are perceived very differently by our siblings.   Though the protagonists in the family drama are easy to identify, family complexes are enduring. Salvador Minuchin speaks of a family “system” to which the individual must adapt. Our challenge, our growth comes from knowing that our family members mirror what we disown in ourselves.  Only we can choose to break free of the tyranny of repetitive knee-jerk response to stressors, the old agreements, toxic dynamics and outworn resentments, to try on new behaviour.

Freedom from our suffering comes from taking back our projections, one by one. As Bryon Katie says succinctly, “Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them”.

Families are temples for spiritual growth. We elect the curriculum, and set our own pace to do the work. When things get painful we can choose to cut ties with those who trigger our tantrum-throwing inner two year old. To diminish and dilute painful contact to an occasional well-mannered Hallmark greeting card or a one-line text message. To allow the misunderstandings, miscommunications, to stretch and strain into years of silence.  Or we can value ourselves and our family of origin enough to stand in our own solid, flexible sense of Self. To take responsibility for our own lives, pull back our judgements, and open our hearts to incredible Love. That is Power.

The uniquely magnificent Adele, sings out her soul-sound: Hometown Glory

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Moon River

 

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” urges Joseph Campbell.  Following our bliss has become something of a cliché, a well worn, gung ho, onwards and upwards kind of thing we toss out. For most of us it signifies nothing.

What is your Bliss?  What makes you truly Happy? How do you know what your bliss is, really?  And when you awaken, carpe diem, how do you consecrate your Holy Longing?

The Hero archetype is much misunderstood. Psychologists say it is the immature adolescent that blocks men and women from full maturity. In its purest form it is the impetus that squeezes us from the too-tight bud of our yearning and gives us the courage to dare to take the risk to open. Myths and fairy tales describe the Heroes’ journey – the journey from innocence to experience: our heroes and heroines follow trails of bread crumbs through dark forests. They slay fire-breathing dragons. They discover who they truly are when they leave the quacking ducks and find the slender-necked swans.  

When we set off on a journey, either literally, or metaphorically, we dismantle the brittle structures of a life outgrown. We discard the coarse dullness of our timid perceptions. We quicken with a molten life force. We set sail in the open seas, take the road less travelled.  Johann Von Goethe writes of this spark of courage that rekindles the heart, illuminates our lives, brings the Magic. “Distance does not make you falter. Now, arriving in magic, flying, and finally, insane for the light, you are the butterfly and you are gone. And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.”

This is the adventure of being fully “alive”. The daemon–the driving spirit that invites us to experience passion, fantasy, emotions and our imagination–is as vast and as mysterious as the night sky. We may feel this aliveness when we are kissed awake by Love or when we break through our imprisoning walls of self doubt–the shoulds, the musts. When we finally turn towards initiative, creativity, and embrace Hope and Faith.

So my heart bloomed, when, I  read a blog entitled When a Frenchwoman meets an American man … excerpts from the adventures of Elise and Scott as they explore the world by sailboat. Elise and Scott’s response to this ancient impetus reflects the new zeitgeist of Pluto in Capricorn times, in that they have taken the heated rush of the Hero and transmuted it into the Warrior Archetype. They aren’t rushing off unprepared into the high seas. They are doing this with the slow hand energy of the Mature Masculine and Mature Feminine.

It is a timeless Love story that presents the luscious full-flavoured ingesting of Life.  Like all good stories, it describes a fated meeting, and begins, Once Upon A Time…. So I share with you the beginning of the story of Elise and Scott this new day.

 Elise: “Once upon a time, a French Woman who had been living and working in Paris for many years and who was fed up with the daily grind and both the gloominess and selfishness of Parisians decided in October 2010 to go to a place she has always dreamt to go to… TAHITI, in FRENCH POLYNESIA…”

Scott: “I went to Polynesia alone to rediscover myself and as a sort of ceremonial re-launch of my new life.  Elise and I ran into each other on Huahine a few days before the end of my Polynesian adventure.  Since then, we’ve spent about 3,000 hours together…  The only way I can describe it to you is the word “harmony.”   We found that we both shared the same ever-deferred-dream: to explore the world by sailboat.”

My soul stirs as I celebrate this impetus to embrace happiness, to answer the call to adventure. This daring to write the poetry of Big Love, to rearrange their lives so that their hearts sing and their souls may soar. I honour their courage to set sail at the anointed hour. To de-stigmatise the norms, conventions, rules that tether them to the lives that have grown too small for their soul song.

“Doesn’t everything die too fast and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” asks Mary Oliver.

Scott responds: “We spent our first evening together in Huahine on the beach staring at a full moon and a million stars, above and on the water.  It was a magical, mystical conversation about life and self and others… And, we both felt inspired- – by each other, life, whatever.  So, the moon has become a bit of a symbol for us.  Anyway, we chose the name Mystic Muse for our boat in remembrance of the moon’s inspirational power.”

I dedicate this to you, Elise and Scott, and to your dreamboat, Mystic Muse, as you discover new depths of Love, and a new perspective on Life.

Carpe Diem!

Scott and Elsie, this is for you:

Moon River, wider than a mile,
I’m crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker;
wherever you’re going I’m going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There’s such a lot of world to see.
We’re after the same rainbow’s end–
waiting ’round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOByH_iOn88&feature=related

 

 

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Stand by me

“Everyone wants to be in a relationship,” declares my vivacious friend, Julie, as we supped on smoky noodles at Saigon. Does everyone yearn to be an us? Cosily coupled, snugly secure in a twosome, I wonder?

“We’re relational creatures,” she continued, as we finished off the bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, “which is why we all keep on searching for our soul mate.” We do?

The astrological birth chart, which is the acorn of our life’s potential, the daemon of our fate, suggests otherwise.  Not everyone wants to be in a relationship. Many of us pay lip service to love, and choose to end it with the well worn “you’re too good for me” exit line when intimacy beckons. Like Pandora, we open the box and release a screeching swarm of demons that devour us with fear, turn us to pillars of stone.

Many of us hunger for Love with an appetite so voracious that we gorge on empty encounters that leave us starving and malnourished. Many of us fasten our hearts with love-proof padlocks and swear to never love again. Like the poet W.B. Yeats, who loved an Irish beauty for 30 years with a passion that was never consummated or returned, “we fed our hearts on fantasies” and ache with the memory of broken promises, still-born dreams.

Intimate relationships can be messy and convoluted, often disappointing. Relationships with friends, colleagues, a beloved cat or dog, are often far less rigorous in their demands. To form a committed bond with another, to take the necessary actions to set up home or parent children demands courage, endurance and a sense of safety as we rest in one another’s arms, for better or for worse. Real relationships require the ingredients of two willing people who love each other enough to stand strong as the cruel winds of doubt, fear and hopelessness buffet the bond of commitment.

But, if you have the soul of a gypsy, or the heart of a hermit, you may choose, consciously or unconsciously, to defy social convention and never become “an us”. As the years pass by, the thought of sharing your home with another person, of stretching wide to accommodate differences that jostle you from your routine and entrenched beliefs becomes too big a stretch. So, you stay safe, eschewing the tantrums, the misunderstandings and compromises that polish us smooth in intimate relationship. It’s easier to stay contained, to shop for one, to keep things neat and simple – uncomplicated. Many of us have loved boy-men, or girl-women who fell asleep when we beckoned them to enter the fragrant Garden of Love. They did not – could not – love us enough to make space in their orderly lives for fierce love, for the chaos of the Feminine or the pointed vision of the Masculine.  They turned their heads away and walked towards another destiny.

It is when we nurture, trust, encourage, and truly value ourselves, with all our complexity and contradictions, that we begin to dance deeper and deeper into Being. It is then, if we are willing to lower the red flags of fear and judgement, that we will invite The Beloved into the sanctum of our passionate heart. It is then that we discover the comfort and the joy of saying, darling, Stand By Me. And we just know that the answer will be OH YES!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4_ghOG9JQM

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see
No I won’t be afraid
No I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

John Lennon.

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And I love her

After spending three weeks in Mountjoy women’s prison Teresa Treacy, of Clonmore, is home. Her crime, her refusal to comply with High Court orders to allow power lines on her property which would, and did, ruin the beauty of the landscape, destroying tall trees. This act of courage and defiance has made this 65 year old woman a cause celebre in Ireland.

For me, Teresa symbolises the uncompromising Crone energy we must draw from our bellies if we are to live authentic lives in challenging times. I believe that in order to cross the threshold into the realm of the Crone, we as women, (and those men who have integrated the Feminine energy,) must experience a rite of passage, so that we may enter the sacred centre of the web of our lives, to learn what real Love is. Illness, divorce, death of a child or a partner, retrenchment, prison – tsunami times of intense physical or emotional suffering when the loss of our old identity becomes a psychic death. Times when we feel like utterly alone, floating in a fathomless ocean… no direction home.

How does it feel ?
Aw, how does it feel ?
To be on your own ?
With no direction home ?
Like a complete unknown ?
Like a rolling stone ? sang Dylan.

I saw an interview with 74 year old activist and feminist Jane Fonda. Breasts like Barbie’s, face taut, impossibly white, perfect teeth. She seemed brittle, very fragile, unmothered. Still hungry, unable to embrace the energy and quiet assurance of the mature feminine or the fierce wisdom of The Crone. The initiation into the wise woman archetype or Crone (which means “corona” meaning “crown”,)   lacks ritual and celebration in a world where we worship at the altar of  youth. Change is never easy. Most of us lack the support of community, or the mentorship of mature women to guide us over the crossroads through the dark forests and dangerous pathways. Mature Women to shake us firmly from our torpor, when we prick our fingers on the spindles and fall “asleep”. Our conversations are a timorous lament of our loss of youth. We sprinkle conversations with self-depreciating remarks – saggy breasts, stretch marks, flabby arms. We self-harm in our desperate attempts to stay sweet sixteen foolishly falling for the folly of Botox, HRT, face lifts.

Hollow-eyed beggars, starving for the crumbs of love. We’ve been fighting our bodies all our lives.  Marion Woodman describes the Crone cycle as a time of Crossroad, where we come eventually, to a place of deep surrender. “After a lifetime of trying to improve herself in order to become a “perfect” daughter, wife and mother, a woman’s “surrender” to herself just as she is, becomes like bathing in the refreshing water in the pool of her soul. Grounded in her connection with her inner wisdom, she now lives from her own authority.”

And so, through illness, loss, the inevitability of our own death, we stumble or are pulled with ferocity into the liminal landscape of the Crone. She is uncompromising. The giver and taker of life. She demands as payment for crossing the threshold, precious gifts hidden in the challenges that crucify. These are times when we may also glimpse the white butterfly of new possibility. As we integrate our aloneness and despair into new learning, we plant it back into a world that looks the same outwardly, though we have changed irrevocably. Says Marion Woodman, “periods of renunciation are the initiations in life when we realise God is not running a day care centre.”

Goddess is a word that has lost its currency. This powerful archetype has been prostituted to sell perfume, bath oil, and deodorant. It’s bandied about as a term of endearment.  Goddess, like Woman, has been made infantile, pretty-in-pink, static, always smiling, naively youthful.  But, there is not only one goddess. She has, for eons, appeared in three: Maiden, Mother, and Crone; and she takes many forms. In a civilization as flatlined as ours, she lives still as the Fairy Godmother, the Woman of the Mist, Baba Yaga, the Cailleach. She is the dark moon, the cruel winter, the fierce, wise Mother of All. The Crone courageously embraces her values, her truth, and her beauty. She caresses the silver riverbeds that lattice her belly and her thighs, sees the eyes that stare back at her in the mirror, and says, yes!  She works through those who have not pricked their fingers on the spindle and fallen asleep.

There is an old story, told by Lame Deer, a Lakota Elder. It speaks of the importance of injury. When we die, we meet an old hag in the Underworld. She will eat our scars, and then allow us to continue on our journey. If you have none, she will eat your eyes instead. This suggests to me, the value of inner sight, as we die in various ways on our journeys. It is in our scars, the fractures in our hearts, our wrinkles, our stretch marks, as Leonard Cohen says, There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

So there will come a time when we must stand in the fire, like Teresa Treacy of Clonmore. We must speak our truth quietly, with assurance. We must persistently mine the metaphors in our lives. Dig deep, chew the cud of our dreams and savour the delicious sweetness. Stir the cauldron of our darkest emotions. And when we have prepared, and are ready, the Crone will appear. She will take our hand, and lead us back to the Garden.

Well, then can I roam beside you? I have come to lose the smog.
And I feel myself a cog in something turning.
And maybe it’s the time of year, yes, said maybe it’s the time of man.
And I don’t know who I am but life is for learning.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Joni Mitchell, Woodstock.

Love the Crone, and listen to the original sounds of the Beatles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaJIQmIei14  And I love her, the Beatles http://www.offalyexpress.ie/news/local/teresa_treacy_to_meet_with_esb_1_3143058

 

 

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Wild Love

Nothing strips us as soul naked as Wild Love. Nothing shatters suburban lives, unmasks our shadow, nullifies our fear, lifts us on the wings of Angels, as Wild Love.

Provocative choices, profound turning points, soul-directed impulses – when we begin to see everything as energy consciousness, there can be no accidents, no coincidences. No one out there who can keep us in the gilded cage, as it is we who hold the key. We are the heroines of our own story, we write our own scripts. It is we who can dare to go to the ball wearing the glass slippers. We who choose to stay alone, sitting in cold ashes at the hearth. When we dare to love wildly, there are no victims, no-one to blame, just an interconnected web of constantly changing energy, new experiences to deepen and to grow into our Authentic Self.

“Passion is truth’s soul mate,” says Sarah Ban Breathnach, and as I see the tears of joy shimmer in my friend’s Siobhan’s lovely brown eyes, my heart sings. “It’s a meeting of souls,” she says. “This feels so right.” Siobhan lives her own story. Always has. Her life has been a trajectory of passionate, rather than passive, loving. So she soars to her new lover, transfigured, illuminated, true to her wild, authentic self. So she experiences a-new, deepening spiritual growth, another chance to bathe in the dewy-moisture of Love.

So many people say they fear intimacy; they’re commitment-phobic, as if this is some badge of honour.

Fear is the opposite of Love. It constricts, keeps our light dim, and mutes our cry of Joy. To love fiercely, we must overthrow our crusty beliefs about the material world, and answer the call of our soul song.

Cor,  root of the word, courage, means heart in Latin. Do we have the courage to Love ourselves, and another with all our hearts? Do we have the courage to embrace a fierce, instinctual wild love that will change our life, our world, irrevocably? Do we have the courage trust our intuition, the messenger of the soul?

“The way to maintain one’s connection to the wild is to ask yourself what it is that you want. This is the sorting of the seed from the dirt. One of the most important discriminations we can make in this matter is the difference between things that beckon to us and things that call from our souls. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the choice of mates and lovers. A lover cannot be chosen a la smorgasbord. A lover has to be chosen from soul-craving. To choose just because something mouth-watering stands before you will never satisfy the hunger of the soul-self. And that is what the intuition is for; it is the direct messenger of the soul.” — Clarissa Pinkola Estés (Women Who Run with the Wolves)

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