Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Locked in my own monastery


Financial alchemy.

The title of the session listed in an e-mail the day before startled me. I would have never – in a millions years – put those two concepts together. Dirty money and mystical transformation? There was no way to make a reservation, so I just showed up. Early. Early enough to meet the presenter alone and make a deep connection ... over turtles, a symbol that adopted me a long time ago, no less.

Jenefer noticed I was wearing one and said they represent an old soul. I told her I was attracted to them after collecting stories of people's experiences of the Divine and believing a mere paper was not the proper container for something so precious. The idea of a "turtlebox" [ www.turtleboxstories.com ] jumped into my heart and head. Later a friend informed me they symbolize the meeting of heaven (the domed shell) and earth (the belly) – the perfect place, besides my heart, for these sacred stories.

"So you just asked people to talk about those experiences?" Jenefer asked almost in disbelief. "Yeah," I responded, "although it was within a spiritual context." I have not thought about them in such a long time, but it was such an amazing venture – to actually sit with others while they explained their dance with Spirit. I told Jenefer I'd like to be able to walk into a room of strangers and ask the same question. She said she desires to get to the deep stuff quickly, too. No small talk for us. We went right to turtles.

Another person joined us and we had a cozy group. My heart almost leapt out when Jenefer explained there is a bridge between spirituality and money. "What the heck?" I could hear myself thinking. "How's that?"

First off, she asked me to take my wallet out of my purse. I played along. She said it was "pretty." I hadn't the nerve to confess that I had only recently purchased it, the first that wasn't a gift or strictly utilitarian. The purpose of the exercise was to show that money should be respected and honored. That, yes, it was a tool, but not an evil one as I had described my love-hate experience with it. She said to carry more cash than you think you should and you will feel its abundance. I balked when she said how much she carried as well as what she paid for her favorite purse years ago. The day before, Lily, my youngest, had been watching Let's Make a Deal, and I detest game shows [especially game shows centered around money], but she convinced me to watch. I could not understand the pregnant woman obsessed with the $500 purse she was offered. She wouldn't trade it for anything. "Just think what all you could do with $500," I thought.

At financial alchemy, however, I gave it another thought. I would never let myself spend that kind of money because ... well, I assumed I was not worth it. Yep, Jenefer said our views of money are extremely tied to our self worth. I am beginning to see how right she is.

We had two pages of "messages" to read through and hone in on those that spoke to us. I resonated with most all of the spiritual messages, but a couple others stuck out:
1) I want to change the frequency, or the vibration that I may be sending out to the world and the universe.
2) I want to move beyond my survival needs, into my spiritual yearnings.
3) I want to be free of the judgment that I throw toward people who have a lot.

Number one scared me because of its truth. I know my spiritual and creative vibrations reflect the true me, but others, especially those money-related, do not. I have been living in scarcity mode, fearing there will not be enough. "Fear," Jenefer says, "is a faith issue, not financial." I agree.

Number two is the bridge she spoke of earlier. It is a tool I must understand and can employ in a positive spirit. Somehow I have imprinted in my mind and body that living a pure spiritual life involves deprivation, sacrifice and suffering. I've gotten good at those. Think it's time for me to step on that damn bridge and cross it.

Number three I did not initially understand. I know I am an extremely tolerant person when it comes to the have-nots. But the haves have little place in my world. "Envy and jealousy," Jenefer says, "are your GPS. You can't see it [in others] unless you have it [yourself]." Compassionate me jealous? No way. Maybe yes way. I had read my feelings more as disdain, not realizing they tie into that notion of deprivation and suffering.

The Universe, Jenefer said, wants us to thrive AND prosper. What a radically freeing and delicious notion!

I have been restricting myself, fighting money, when I need to open to its abundance. Quoting from Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, Jenefer said one quality of the rich is they know how to receive, not just give.

Fighting myself, now that seems to be a common thread. I had a dream recently about being pursued by thugs and an awful one in particular. I was running to a high spot away from the urban area and its violence when a stray and powerful tornado touched down in the city and destroyed everything, bringing stunning silence. The message I received was to replace violence with silence ... maybe abundance as well. Thanks to Jenefer, I can see that piece now and continue working on completing the puzzle of my wholeness.

• How do I feel about money?
• Can I give AND receive?
• Are there inherited attitudes or patterns I can or should shed?
• How can I incorporate the practice of gratitude and abundance into the way I interact with money?
• Can I tell myself I AM worth it?

I have locked myself
up in my own monastery

thriving in some areas,
depriving myself in others

thinking this is what
purity means

when, in truth,
I need to just be myself
fully, wholly and with

... and some extra
cash in my wallet

Jenefer Annenberg is a life-empowered catalyst and can be reached at jenefer@radiant-esence.com

Monday, April 25, 2011

Banishing the dark

It's true, long periods of dark weather can shape your mood. Conversely, almost a week of sunny 90°, low-humidity days can reverse that trend. Subtract a 19-hour drive each way, replacing it with a two-hour flight and adding laid-back, accommodating hosts and, well, I am extremely relaxed and grateful. Our six days in Florida were a gift.

The first three, I was the last to awaken at 8 a.m., shuffled to the porch, read until I was alert enough to swim, ate and read some more until we were motivated to undertake an excursion. That, to me, was paradise.

Sometimes staying with friends or family can make a vacation seem not so much like getting away. This, however, was different. Though I didn't get my usual, introverted alone time, I easily escaped into the kindly loaned "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and its sequel whenever I needed space. My kids orbited nearby, entertained by the pool and warm welcome of my brother-(BIL) and sister-in-law (SIL). Because their kids are older, they seemed genuinely enamored of my two, yet parental when necessary.

I noticed my BIL snagged my husband for himself a few times and I knew it was good for both of them. My husband, ten years younger, always felt his brother didn't like him. I think it's just that he didn't know him and now I see how alike they are. Interestingly, my youngest latched onto that pair, hanging out with "the guys." When we outlined any plans for the day, she always wanted to know "What's Uncle Jim doing" before she chimed in. She's still repeating the silly limerick about pelicans he taught her. It cracks me up. [see video clip below]

As much as I cherish my reading time, I also loved getting acquainted with my SIL, who is a relatively new family member. She, too, has raised a very independent daughter and we commiserated, sharing stories which were eerily similar. Between conversations, we lapsed into reading or, maybe, it was the other way around. Nonetheless, comfortably sharing the silence with someone speaks volumes about compatibility.

Now we're home, the luggage is unpacked, the sand shaken from my shoes and the routine unfolds. But with a bit of a twist ... my being is smiling as the result of the sun, sand and nurture of family. Enough so that I spent the later morning on some personal-growth work and I now see a sunnier path ahead. I am certain it had been there earlier, but the real clouds had intruded into my attitude. I've banished them.

• How has the long, grey winter affected my being?
• What can I do to counter that?
• When and how have I recently experienced nurture?
• What gifts I have received lately.
• How can I see the sunnier path ahead?

cold, damp and dark days
strung endlessly

invade me
can make me crazy

and I forget that
I choose my interior environment

which can be as many consecutive days
of sun and warmth as I desire,
banishing the dark

making me smile
all over

Friday, April 15, 2011

Deliciously my heart smiles

BIG sigh. My body sloughs back into relaxation, my mind is blissfully blank.

I could be frantically packing to drive 17 hours over two days to Florida. That was the plan. Neat, tidy, organized and loads of work. I vacuumed the car over three hours last Saturday and spent Sunday afternoon making a slipcover for the back seat because the kids say the smell of the fabric [not my favorite, either] makes them sick.

I had a plan and I was sticking to it, stuffing down how much work and bodily discomfort the trip would be. I was resigned to the drive, having scanned travel sites for months trolling affordable airfare x 4. Then an out-of-the-blue e-mail alert Tuesday and carefully-laid plans crashed. Rising up in their midst was an easier agenda of flying to Florida for barely more than the cost of gas, food and two nights of hotel bills.

Caught me so off-guard I almost missed this gift. I am used to working so very hard for things. I am certain my first-born status has much to do with this ethic. But very recently, I opened my eyes to the abundance in my life, scratching out the long-held pattern of looking at what I don't have. I believe that began 12 years ago when fibromyalgia snatched something from me. I am reclaiming it and looking at the silver lining as well as all of the other blessings in my life. And the more I find to be grateful for, the more rolls in. Including less pain and more energy.

My pastoral counselor reminded me that God(dess) only wants abundance for me. Which makes me ponder where the negativity originated. Do I dare wonder out loud about evil? I have never believed in a personified or organized evil, but, in recent years, do risk to consider it. I have had the conversation with a number of people, though it's not a casual topic, nor one I would enter into lightly. For so long, I have put much of it on myself, but I do question whether other "things" are at work. I've experienced, in times of heightened spirituality, everything red popping out on a nightly drive as if menacing and a pair of beady eyes. Overactive imagination or something else? The yin to the yang?

I told my first Quaker minister [technically, Quakers believe we are all ministers] about the eerie drive home and asked him about evil. He said his belief was pretty well confined to institutional evil: when an organization grows so big it takes on a dynamic of its own, almost outside of the people it serves and who compose it. I can conceptualize that.

Just a passing dark thought, nothing that will rain on my living abundantly.

• How have I adjusted my attitude to one of gratitude and abundance?
• When I have, what difference does it make?
• How do I feel Spirit in that mode?
• What is the reverse of an abundant spirit for me?
• What negative patterns or concerns about darkness do I hold?

deliciously relaxed
into the idea that I have ALL that I need

and intentionally practicing gratitude

trusting Goddess for what I need
so against my programming and culture

yet so freeing and life-giving

the smile in my heart knows
this is how to live

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Abundant voice

Lately, I've been reading about writing more than writing, stumbling onto a book called "Writing to Change the World" by Mary Pipher. I am most fascinated about the pages on voice; particularly her observation that:
"voice is like a snowflake – complicated, beautiful, and individual. It is essence of self, distilled and offered in service to the world."
I find that rather profound and deeply truthful. Also very counter to what the secular, physical world teaches and accepts.

Voice is about being,
                             being yourself,
                             being yourself in the world.

Shortly after savoring that passage, a link popped up from a facebook friend with this nugget:
"I know it’s not easy being an artist. I know the gulf between creation and commerce is so tremendously wide that it’s sometimes impossible not to feel annihilated by it. A lot of artists give up because it’s just too damn hard to go on making art in a culture that by and large does not support its artists. But the people who don’t give up are the people who find a way to believe in abundance rather than scarcity."*
I've almost given up lots lately, looking at where I wasn't getting within the "system" instead of recognizing the power and truth in my voice. A power and truth I am unable to shake, therefore, unable to quell. It will out itself no matter what I do, so I may as well cooperate and free myself. I believe we all must in whatever form that voice manifests. It has done me harm to quiet it and I am beginning to believe again that I do have a message to share with the world, but – better yet – I have myself to share.

And there's the mirror I am for my daughters that tells me if I can't do it for myself, then do it for them. My heart is singing that I do it for myself as an act of love.

Imagine that: loving myself
                           loving my voice
                           loving my voice in the world

• How have I developed and nurtured my own voice?
• How intimately are we acquainted?
• How do I share it?
• Constrain it?
• How am I creating a place for my voice in the world?

pure silliness, I say now

had it been someone else, I could have been objective

chiding myself for closing off my voice, creativity and passion

because one person said it wasn't unique

she LIED

then I lied to myself

NOW, the truth is out

* see the entire blog entry at

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Uncreasing the furrows

Last night in the mirror, while examining a blemish blossoming as a badge of menopause, I noticed my first facial lines almost imperceptible behind the bangs and eyebrows. There they were: two furrows already imprinted on my forehead. Eeeeee gads, have I been that serious lately? I asked myself.  Then, this morning:

In the slipperiness of the pool, the voice said "Be joyful."
In the darkness of the sauna, the voice said "Look within, instead of without."
In the warmth of the shower, the voice said "You're doing exactly what you're supposed to be."

I believe that is my prescription for losing the furrows and living life now, in the present. For so long I have struggled against myself, waiting for something external – an event, a companion or Spirit – to alter that struggle. I have known the Divine inside experientially, but intellectually, I still held onto the notion that it came from somewhere external ... a remnant of the white-bearded man in the sky I have tried to shake.

Two recent insights from spiritual mentors have helped me recognize I really have all I need within. In a meeting with Charlotte when she patiently and skillfully listened to me list my wounds, she noted that I alluded to the Divine as if it were outside of me. And Gary, who has nurtured me over a dozen years when I first stumbled onto his massage table after a car wreck, said the struggle in life is how to to let Spirit into our bodies, our beings.

Hummmmm, looking within, not without.

I tearfully admitted to Gary I felt Goddess had been showing me myself through a dark mirror lately. He quickly quashed that theory, retorting that the Divine only wants love and joy for me. After sniffling through a dozen tissues, Gary gathered up my discards, much to my dismay at him touching my snot, and offered them to the fire with a prayer for transformation.

I believe that transformation is already at work, shifting my obsession with all of the darkness inside of me to realizing where the seed of the Divine resides. And rejoicing in that: being happy where I am; grateful for the life I live; and beginning to love myself as Goddess does.

• What is my conception of where the Divine resides?
• How has that been shaped?
• How has that changed as I have matured?
• What reminders can I create to remember how much I am loved?
• How can I open myself to that Divinity within?

normally, I would beat
myself up for being so ...
well, wrong

but in the realization that
Divinity is within, comes the
acceptance that I couldn't
always handle that information

that it is a process of
self discovery,
one step at a time

it can't be hurried, rushed
or on any timetable
other than that which is
meant to be

and the growing into
this knowledge is joyful

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mantra of "no more"

I am so ready for spring and the promise of a new beginning. I have lovingly tended my seeds, seedlings and now healthy plants for the past several weeks and that has kept me grounded while my inner self has struggled to shed an outdated layer of woundedness. It's been a tough haul, but I sense the light at the end of the tunnel.

Often, the light has come in the form of outreach from another: the skilled ear of my spiritual friend, the surprise e-mail from a dear, old friend alerting me that we share a common condition, the unexpected call last night from another wonderful, longtime friend checking in, a girls' night last weekend, the tender hug of a daughter and the deep compassion of my spouse.

So the difficult work of identifying and cracking that layer has occurred and, with it, amazing insight and opening. Yet, somehow, I can't quite entirely shed it. It's too deeply imbedded in my psyche and identity, so even though it may be physically gone [though I am not so sure] the memory of where it constrained and constricted me remains.

The layer now has a label, betrayal. And often betrayal that happened so unnoticed that I didn't have time to respond. The urge to respond is what swirls, grasping at the old shell. I am learning that even if I were to counter, I likely will not receive the acknowledgment I desire. And yet that urge persists. The urge to name the transgression – particularly a very recent wound, which precipitated all of this deep and draining work – out loud and for somebody to take notice.

With each betrayal (and I thank my spiritual friend for pointing out and naming this pattern ... I was wrestling in the dark with something I didn't understand], I gave away a piece of myself, diminishing my wholeness. I must regain what I cast off, which I am beginning to see is my power. I GAVE IT AWAY. It was not taken, but given.

Which means only I can reclaim it. In a sense, it has nothing to do with anyone else and everything to do with myself. I pray for the guidance to tread this path to health and wholeness.

• Can I now name something that's tugging at me from deep down?
• If not, can I ask for the fresh eyes of another I trust?
• And if I am able to identify that which holds me, how can I let it go – really?
• What resources must I muster to complete the task?
• What's my specific prayer?

imbedded and encased around myself
the it that has held me captive
isn't so much an other-created wound

as my lack of trust in myself
to give myself up and away
at the mere hint of hurt

bringing that to light
frees me to examine
the wound more closely
and observe

that I have been holding
myself back

no more, is my mantra