Dear She,

start

right

now!

just do it!

commence

exactly

where you are!

step by step

is how

one goes far.

do not allow

fear and doubt

keep you from

your destined route.

believe in you

this, you must do

to live a life

big

juicy

and true!

can’t allow ego

to de-construct

and run amuck

spreading rumors,

like a malignant tumor.

you’ve played small

for far too long,

drinking in

the lies,

the poison,

others hold.

beloved, these,

not for your Soul.

no!

take a stand

for you,

for all,

for together,

we rise

and fall.

even as you stumble

and tremble,

know you are

more than able.

it’s all in you,

the things

you need

to spread

your considerable

wings!

be always

inspired.

please

don’t

against self

conspire,

perceiving another

much higher.

To each,

her own path,

her unique road,

long ago cast.

so, no compare,

only road from there

is utter despair.

instead,

see the common humanity

and fragilities

in all human stories.

bask in the ordinary

of your hero,

that which births

the extraordinary.

when One-

like you-

breaks through,

reclaims her Essential Truth,

remembers her Light,

we all shine bright,

we all take flight!

 

do you see what I see?

come to me, Beloved.

come, straight with not a hint of a chaser:

no art on your face

nor hair made up and straight.

come to me in your most natural state.

allow me to see exactly what God done create.

let me see you in the “harsh” Light,

not just undercover “protected” by the night.

My Love, why the masks?

you know I must ask.

why do you feel you must always run from me,

hiding away your true identity?

what is it you do not wish for me to see?

come, Baby.

sit,

breathe,

be.

then,

look

at

Me.

Look into your mirror through my eyes.

do you see what I see-

your great beauty,

that you are infinitely worthy

just as you are

right now?

in your own eyes,

do you see in you the mystery,

vulnerability,

fragility,

abundant curiosity,

and stubborn audacity?

do you?

really?

and of the fine lines indelibly etched on your face-

do you see your long history and humble ministry?

do you, Baby?

what of your beautiful skin-

scarred, marred, unshaven, uneven?

therein, your unique composition,

not crafted to be ignored,

but deeply appreciated and fully explored.

do you see what I see, Baby?

your True Story,

your ineffable Glory.

 

 

 

 

Legacy

born of a visionary-

one gifted with the ability

to farther see,

one who then generously

takes us on their journey.

Legacy…

what is left behind,

that which will stand the test of time.

planted seeds

the rich harvest of which

will not ever be seen.

lessons taught

from painful battles fought.

inspiration elicited

from a long gone Heart that contributed.

the many lives transformed

from a Life that is now in another form.

a world made brighter

from a dimmed Light of significant matter.

 

Beauty

Beauty

of,

begotten from

humanity,

moves me always to tears,

unearthing my deepest joys, aches, and fears.

mixed in is great gratitude and awe,

an appreciation of what some Souls came here for.

Therein lies the source of the pain,

that is a profound yearning to do the same:

To the world, contribute Beauty in His Name.

Beauty inspired and informed by spirituality

with the intention of transformative ministry.

Beauty in all its many forms;

Beauty beyond limited social norms;

Beauty that Heart melts & warms.

Beauty that consciousness expands,

that makes great demands

of its adoring beholder:

risk for a Life that is richer & ever bolder!

 

 

 

Home is…

…where the Heart resides

…where the Soul flies

…where Love prevails

…where authentic connectedness cures all (or most) of what ails

…where one’s Spirit is finally free and can exhale

…where all pretense and the burdensome masks give way

…where your Tribe comes out to play

…where one’s many Songs are sung

…where creativity simply for its own sake is not so far-flung

…where Life is a little smoother around the edge

…where thoughts don’t constantly veer frighteningly toward The Ledge

Home is…

…the Peace that surpasses all understanding

…the Path Not yet Taken

…the constant Prayer seemingly unanswered

…the blissful state of feeling favored

…the real Me birthed and seen

…the Mystery, revealed

…the yellow-brick Road less Traveled

…the ultimate Goal unraveled

 

 

Off The Wall

Livin’ crazy that’s the only way. So tonight gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf. And just enjoy yourself. Groove, let the madness in the music get to you
Life ain’t so bad at all
If you live it off the wall

Off The Wall, the album and song by the incomparable and prodigiously talented, very definition of icon, Michael Jackson. Just a few days ago, in the midst of stumbling across a documentary about Michael’s journey to the making of this extraordinary album, I was literally transported way back in time, back to my prepubescent self. I recalled with stunning (and somewhat terrifying) clarity my dancing in my room with cousins and sisters, clinging to the Off the Wall album, holding it (Michael) close to my chest, singing along to every word on an album that I must have listened to hundreds of times – I could not get enough of Michael – his beautiful and perfect voice seemed to be speaking directly to and into me.

Bon Dieu the power of scent, food and music to return us to another time in our life – years, decades earlier as if no time had passed. We see, hear, taste all exactly as it was. A reminder that we carry all of the different iterations of ourselves within our selves. Nothing is ever really lost or forgotten. The body and Soul store it all and bring it rushing back to us with just the right trigger. Nothing we can do when that chain reaction commences – just hold on, just let it be. Resistance is indeed very futile.

Even as we go back, we eventually return to the present Moment with a new appreciation for the trigger that took us back. When I journeyed back from prepubescence to middle age me, it was as if my eyes had suddenly opened. I could see. There was a renewed relevance to the lyrics of Off the Wall; nuances I could better grasp and appreciate.

Life ain’t so bad at all, if you live it off the wall..

I have never in my life felt “normal.” Even as a child, I could not verbalize that feeling, but I felt it. Something ain’t quite right; I am not like others my age. Well over thirty years later, very little has changed in that sentiment. Now, with “maturity,” I am more accepting of Self than I was back then. This is me, this is it. Take it or leave it.

Life ain’t so bad at all, if you live it off the wall..

I continue to do my best to live my life on the wall (I suppose one would say), keeping myself on the straight and narrow and traditional. Such a responsible path has always felt so utterly and painfully uncomfortable for me, like a straitjacket, like wings clipped, and Spirit dampened.

Life ain’t so bad at all, if you live it off the wall..Live your life off the wall (live it off the wall)

Michael’s words, his commandment to live life off the wall ran through me, washed over me, and continue to reverberate to this Moment. It felt, feels like I am being given permission (finally) to just me authentically me.

Live your life off the wall

A clarion call for me, if ever there was one…Indeed, there is no other choice really. One must be who one really is, lest one dries up like a raisin in the sun, to quote another Great One. Deep in my heart, I believe we are each here, each wonderfully and fiercely crafted to do a particular job for our World. This special role is the byproduct only of authenticity.

Groove, let the madness …{Of Your} music get {in}to you
Life ain’t so bad at all, If you live it off the wall

Not only is life ain’t so bad at all, it is bliss to be you, to be true, to fully self-actualize and gift our World with our unique magnificence. At first glimpse, it may indeed appear that such a life is off the wall. Difference/uniqueness elicit such intense unease in humans. We tend to favor predictability, matters and people placed neatly on the wall where we can easily digest, understand and deem safe – even if on some level we know this safety is a grand illusion. Artists like MJ, provocateurs in our midst both revered and reviled, remind us/warn us of the precariousness of our illusions and whisper in our ears what our Souls (our true Selves) already know…

Livin’ crazy that’s the only way. So tonight gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf. And just {be} yourself.  Groove, let the madness …{Of Your} music get {in}to you.
Life ain’t so bad at all
If you live it off the wall

the Beauty you Love

Let the beauty you love be what you do…” 

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love…”

These two quotes count among the many beautiful words of great wisdom that I love from Rumi. As is always the case when I spend time engulfed in Rumi, everything stops and I am still at last. From this exquisite place, I can go deep into whom and what I really am. I can see clearly. I can breathe again. I can remember all that I find beautiful in our world – that which deeply resonates in me, draws me in, calls to me, sings to me, completely disarms me, beckons me, enchants me, embraces me, calms me, frees me, feeds me, lifts me, loves me.

Plato observed that “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.”

Pondering the beauty that my eyes behold, I come to see that which I find beautiful is what I really love; that which I truly and effortlessly love is what I find beautiful.  It does not seem possible to not love that which one finds beautiful or to love that which one does not find beautiful. Beauty and love are inextricable – linked down to our very Soul.

At the level of the Soul, reason has no place. Hence, explaining “…the strange pull of what you really love…” Within your Soul, there is only surrender and trust to the true Self. Here, no questions are allowed or asked; there are no doubts, only pure and unadulterated Truth. The Soul is where who you really are resides – straight no chaser, no filters, no mask, no shame, and no fear. In this quiet, fertile and vulnerable space, beauty and the love it elicits are all that matter and you are invited to lean in and be informed by the beauty you love. 

I shiver with joy at the thought of what our world could be if we all had the courage to heed the Soul’s call, longing and invitation to let the beauty we really love (that which draws and pulls us) be what we do, what we offer to each other. So says Rumi: “There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth.”

A Life Well-Lived: Big, Fat & Juicy!

I watch O, J. Lo and the Queen Bee

My heart swells with envy and boundless possibility

I yearn for uniquely Me bits of what they manifest:

Abundance, self-actualization, adventure, creativity

Big, fat, juicy lives – nothing less

Lives lived relatively

Unconventionally

Authentically

Beyond fully

They – and other Souls of their ilk – will depart

With nary their songs left in the Heart

No what if, little – if any – regrets

Just a deep sense of giving life their very Best

Leaping to fly

No hide

Daring greatly

Loving bravely

Following bliss

That is a Life well-lived.

Take It where you can get It

For most of my life, fashion was a four letter word. It felt so foreign to me, so irrelevant for the “intellectual” I fancied myself to be. This perspective made me a bit of an anomaly within a family dominated by “fashionistas” – women (a mother and sisters) who love heels, make up and beautiful and sexy clothing. To and for them fashion (what a woman wore and how she wore it) had the potential to empower, it communicated something about you to the world and  – perhaps most importantly – to yourself.

I vividly recall arrogantly rolling my eyes at women who obsessed over shoes – like, really? My look of defiant choice was head-to-toe black – show nothing, reveal nothing, force all to focus on my intellect, for (I believed) therein lies my only gift of value.

Life has a way of continuously challenging our perceptions, humbling us in all ways. One often does not see it coming, these lessons. So, at age forty, I decide to do something different, get out of my well-established comfort zone, and try something new. This resulted in the purchase of my first pair of jeans – yes, at age 40!!! Before this time, I abhorred jeans. I believed they were meant for skinny girls only, curvy girls need not apply. So, nervously and riddled with shame and trepidation, I slipped on a pair of jeans – doing exactly as my idol and mentor, Eleanor Roosevelt, encourages: what I fear most. The jeans fit beautifully, lovingly hugging my every curve. I was utterly astonished at the me I saw in that mirror! I stood up a little taller, felt a tinge more confident and  – dare I say it – bloody sexy! The power of fashion lesson one of many to come.

A year (and over twenty pair of jeans later), I felt emboldened enough to try on heels. I remember thinking that as much as I love my penny loafers, sneakers and flats, I was now a woman of a certain age. I needed to dress like a woman to feel more like a woman. This does not make intellectually sense; it cannot, as this is all on the visceral and emotional level – the level I consciously chose to ignore\runaway from for forty years! That place was way too messy, unruly and unscientific for the science geek intellectual I so very carefully crafted myself to be. One simply cannot control or reason one’s way through that place.

So, I try on my first pair of high heels – at age forty-one. Truly I tell you, it was love (and, ironically given we are talking about four inch heels here, comfort) at first fit. Something just clicked inside of me, something within was set free and made more at home. That something: my sensuality. I felt for the first time that I can be – indeed, I am – smart and sexy. Those two components of my personality seemed to always be ill at ease with each other, unable (and unwilling) to comfortably occupy the same space within me. It took fashion (jeans and heels) to begin breaking down the silos of my personality and help me to see and perceive myself holistically. I am not just this or that, I am this and (all) that! Heck, we all are!

Fashion took me to that realization, that place of growth and evolution. It was not the myriad of spiritual books I inhaled or the countless hours of blissful yoga practice or quiet time spent in solitude journal writing – those all took me to other places and likely helped to open/soften me to the power of fashion as a means of self knowledge, expression and creativity. 

What commenced with jeans and heels eventually led to a little make up on my face – a dab here and there to highlight and sculpt. Now, there is even – gasp – more color and texture in my wardrobe! I am more comfortable using fashion as a vehicle to tell a story and share a little more about my personality, revealing and exposing different aspects of me. Surprisingly, in lieu of diminishing my intellect as I had feared, making myself up (using a variety of clothes, shoes, makeup, perfume, jewelry, etc.) only serves to enhance my intellect, providing it with much-needed context and a little more flavor, if you will.

Looking back through the lens of maturity, I think I feared fashion on some level. We tend to fear the unknown – like we fear the dark. On some level, perhaps, that fear is based on our knowing that the unknown will change us, it will take us somewhere inside that we do not feel ready to explore, force us to see and face something we are not ready to confront. But we must. We must grow, we must evolve, we must become all that we were meant to be. This only happens by going there – to those hard and icky and darn uncomfortable places.

Take It where you can get It. Indeed growth and insight come in the most inopportune times and often wrapped in the most deceptive of packages (fashion – really?). When the student is ready, the teacher does come – just not looking the way the student would expect!

Grandma’s Last Gifts: Two Guiding Lights

On this day, thirteen days ago – just five days after 9/11 – my beloved Grandmother Julie left the Earth. Her passing was the first significant loss I had experienced, and it changed me – forever. It changed what I thought I knew about death and dying. I have come to see now that her passing was yet another invaluable gift she bestowed upon me. I am forever grateful.

Mummie Julie, as we her grandchildren lovingly referred to her, was always gifting me. Whenever I saw her, she would sneak me a twenty dollar bill or more. “Do not tell your mother,” she whispered with a mischievous glint in her eye. “This is between you and me.” If it wasn’t money, it would be her glorious food (how I miss her cooking) served abundantly and with much love.

A few days before she was to be rushed to a hospital emergency room, at a birthday party she hosted for the latest addition to the family – her great-grandson, she gave me a most unusual gift. It was a large laminated picture of me taken at my college graduation. In it, I am chubby checked and smiling. As I looked at the picture, I recalled the deep pain and darkness that lurked underneath that smile. Sensing my heavy heart, my grandmother had me turn the picture over. The first words I read, written in delicate cursive:

A smile never makes an enemy, but often wins a friend.”

I chuckled. My grandmother was not one for a lot of words. Still, she knew her granddaughter very well. I was always smiling no matter what was happening inside of me. She wanted me to keep smiling, to see it as a gift rather than a weakness and a burden, and to then use this gift for good.

Just to make certain that I received this message (again, this grandmother knew her granddaughter’s stubborn heart – I could not hide from her), there was a poem written clearly in print. The poem, You Tell On Yourself resonated deeply in that moment and continues to every time I read it to this day – thirteen years later.

LOL! Grandma was prescient – no wonder she laminated her last gift to me. If she had not, it would have been worn down by now! I read that poem, savoring every beautiful word every year at least three times a year – sometimes more. I cling to it whenever I forget or dislike who I am. It has saved me from delving into The Abyss almost as many times as has chocolate!

Truly I tell you, this poem has become my guiding light – it reminds me to foster integrity, it reminds me that we are indeed each other’s keeper, that we are connected, that we influence each other and that we, indeed, are always telling on ourselves – there’s really no hiding who we really are no matter how heavy and elaborate that mask we so carefully craft. The poem also reminds me to pay close attention.

I still do not know who authored You Tell On Yourself . I send countless thanks to that creative Soul!

Until today, I have never shared this story of my grandmother’s last gifts to me – the picture, the saying, and the poem. They were mine – between my grandmother and me, our last little secret. It just dawned on me that grandma did not ask me to keep this gift between the two of us. I think this was deliberate. Again, this grandmother knew her granddaughter’s heart. She knew I would share her last words – her precious lessons to me – when I was ready.

And so I share:

You Tell On Yourself

You tell on yourself

By the words you speak, by the friends you seek,

By the way you employ your leisure time,

By the use you make of your dollar and dime.

You tell what you are by the things you wear,

By the spirit you, your burdens you bear,

By the kinds of things at which you laugh,

By songs you sing, just a paragraph.

You tell what you are by the way you walk,

By the things of which you delight to talk,

By the manner in which you bear defeat,

By so simple a thing as how you eat.

By the books you choose from a well-filled shelf–

In these things and more – you tell on yourself.