Oh this year … wow … I’m practically out of breath even thinking of writing this year in review … holding off just one more day … one more hour. Why? Because as the year closes, the universe is squeezing in so many insights that I practically have labor pains, and quite frankly I really don’t want to have to rewrite this blog five times this week … who knows what will happen tomorrow in this mystical paradise?
So much is happening. The growth. The love. The graceful revelation of ease unfolding into more ease, even in the face of escalating intensity. And yet, just a few months ago, I remember it so clearly. Lying in bed … rolling over to look at the clock and the dread of the day to come, the grayness of life, the heaviness of change after change and thinking to myself, “It’s going to be December before I know it, and if something good doesn’t happen, writing this usually much-anticipated year in review blog is going to be the most miserable experience of my life … 2014 = gray, no lessons learned. The end.”
Haha … little did I know …
1. Curiosity in the Grayzone
Ok, so gray could be an understatement: black tar blocking every orifice, threatening to take me under around every corner might be more accurate. Set the scene: 2013 ends with the simultaneous deepening into raw new depths of love with one partner, while nursing a half broken heart stolen away by a mysterious monogam-ish mermaid.
Then word comes that my beautiful womb of a community home must be sold. I wasn’t informed that its inhabitants would also disband and scatter into their own curious holes until it was too late. My backup housing plan fails, and then a day later my deepest love calls to break up with me on the phone. I mean getting broken up with on the phone is one thing, but to have it happen just a day before my most vulnerable media project is to air on TV and a week before I become a massively reluctant couch-surfing nomad?
Oh, the humanity. The perfect shit storm of shit storms. I’d let anybody with that story wallow compassionately in victimized misery, so I sure as hell let myself.
And I did. Ugh.
Weeks turned into months. The ones I loved most, wanted to weep with, wanted to seek shelter with, mourn with, understand with … suddenly unavailable and lost to their own puddle of gray and disarray.
Ugh … again … the fucking humanity.
So, what do you do when that happens? The socially acceptable weeklong pizza binge had barely begun when I felt the teeter tottering into deep depressive seas. Take me down, dark mermaids … I don’t want to be here. Who would?
And then, a glimmer … a memory … a thought arises as I remind a friend: find the curiosity.
You may want to die. That is okay. You may want to blame and resent and resist, also okay. But don’t even begin to think that you know what wonder the day holds. When you can’t see through your mud-caked lenses, your sole directive is to be open to the mystery of the opportunities that COULD unfold if you’d just get out of bed and walk into the world with curiosity.
It’s the cure for nearly everything. Take a teaspoon before you go to bed and call me in the morning, if you’ve forgotten that amazing things happen … they always happen … it’s inevitable. So picture that most precious desire, that idea you have of what it would take to “fix” your shitty life … and then get curious about the exponentially of more outrageous opportunities your limited imagination can’t even begin to conjure yet. Realize you don’t know it all. Stay humble. Stay curious. (Or as Dave Booda might say, “Stay Beauty-full.”)
2. Water Is Everything
When I’m stuck, it’s hard to move me. People push and pull. They comfort me into their comfort zone and then they leave. They question my spiritual practices. They think if I change my beliefs (or non-beliefs rather) everything will change. When I’m in water, I’m loose and natural. This is the state from which creativity is born. From creativity comes resourcefulness. From resourcefulness comes opportunity.
I was housesitting in Cardiff months into the gypsy adventure. I heard the urging to open up to God for help again, and as an experiment I tried it on. A day in the ocean with Grace (no, not the concept … the actual person.) I stepped into the water, warm and soft, and looked for God. I felt me. I felt the container of this human form. I felt the wetness and the heat move through me, and I wept at the beauty of nature having its way with me. I knew it was time to honor my body with more nature, more sensation. That is who God is for me.
A day later, I manifested a beautiful cocoon of a healing space right on the shore of Venice Beach. This place was to become an integration touch point throughout my gypsy summer. I fell asleep there the first night, lungs open wide to the sea air with waves of possibility landing in my heart.
As I may have mentioned before, I was a reluctant gypsy. I have always envied the people who sell their belongings and traverse the world alone, but I’m a nester. I like my soft blankets, my pretty things, a safe container to hide myself away in from time to time.
Well, when you want to grow … no better way than to try on the way of life that scares you the most.
Mind you, I write you this from my posh one bedroom jungle mansion with pool and queen-sized bathtub, one of the most beautiful nests I’ve ever acquired. But it took many months of hard-earned nomadic battle scars to learn the lessons that landed me in my nest again. And I had a little help from my friends.
At the beginning of the journey, I was welcomed into the bohemian nest of two lovers who opened their hearts and home to me in my darkest hour. Then came a few failed endeavors to create a new community home in San Diego. Then came the dreaded day where it all went into storage … everything I own that couldn’t fit in my car fits in a 10 x 10 unit, who knew? The load got lighter and then too light … having to find a long-term cat sitter for my precious Mamacita. Luckily I found the best kitty momma in the world … it takes a village to raise good kitty cats these days, people! 🙂
Even with so much motion, my feet still felt entrapped in cinder blocks. Each step heavier and more tentative than the last. What to do next? How to support myself?
I found that I couldn’t relax into the comfort of my parents’ home for more than a week or so. There was no comfort in not moving my life forward. So through the painful haze, I just kept asking for what I needed … a room to myself near the beach, a place to heal, a place to find my work again. Many lovely people helped in this: Sarah, Janos, Lauren, Kamala Leslie, Dave, Paula, Mikilyn, Tosha, Susi, James, Chrissie, Wilma, Grace … I can’t thank you enough.
4. Home Is Where The…
I learned so much about what makes a home by not having one. The obvious: I don’t need most of my stuff. After a few weeks in suitcases you forget what you own or even why you felt compelled to buy it all in the first place. Stuff does not make a home.
You can make any home yours, no matter how temporary, by filing it with your love, your essence. In the places I stayed, I found my favorite yoga studio and juice bar nearby … and began a haphazard routine of running, working, cooking – that birthed the feeling of home with each purposeful or spontaneous action. I mostly resisted the urge to worry about where I would stay next and embodied each home as my own. A deep trust that I would find the next landing place in time began to relax my nervous system into an enthusiastic gypsy flow. Moving days were always full of excitement and energy, eager for the next step, welcoming the adventure.
I also was reminded time and time again that my relationships were my home, and fortunately, they are completely portable. My sisters are just a click away.
For an only child, I have a ridiculous amount of sisters. I won’t bore you with the long list here (you know who you are!), but I would like to honor a few in particular:
My dakini sisters … the online communities, the space holders, the dear friends I made this summer. Your support, your mirrors, your generosity means the world to me. No one understands like you do, the difficulty of doing this work when your heart is broken. No one understands like you do, the importance of supporting one another in this miraculous endeavor to embody and share love with the masses.
My bestest, my dearest: my hoochie love. You gave birth this year and I was so honored to be one of the first to welcome her into this universe, even from the other side of the planet. I can’t wait to meet her.
My fab four, my witchy sister lovers, my broke-back, Big Bear-magic-mountain favorites. The magic that we create as an entity is powerful beyond measure. I’ve never known a four-way connection so balanced, so supportive, so ridiculously fun. We shared so many adventures this year, most notably my birthday. You truly rebirthed me on that day. Chrissie, Grace, Mallory — home is where we come together. (Get your asses to Bali.)
Rachel. Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. I think we’ve redefined sisterhood. We’ve picked each other up, we’ve torn each other down. We’ve held steady in pain, love, wonder, and adventure. You know a true sister when you make a call that sounds like, “I really need your help … I have this crazy idea … and it kind of involves you dropping everything and flying across the country with me…” and the answer you get is: “YES.” Or you get the call to move to Bali and, you look at each other without hesitation and say: “YES.” The many ways you’ve said yes to me as we’ve swum deep into the ocean of everything that is touches my heart in places I didn’t even know existed. I’m beyond honored to be your sister; in every way our lives touch. Love blossoms into beauty so intensely it can’t help but expand and transform those lucky enough to witness it.
6. The Teach-Learn Loop
Sometimes the phrase, “We teach what we most want to learn,” sounds ridiculous. Sometimes it’s even suspect, as confused teachers try to navigate their students and use it to defend their innocence despite painful missteps or manipulations. But most of the time, it’s just true.
In our innocence, in our longing to self-realize, the quickest way to accelerate our learning is to teach. I know this without a doubt because this year I was gifted an apprentice that solidified so much learning in me, I can’t imagine where I’d be without her.
In teaching my gift to another, I saw what it is comprised of. The hundreds of essential elements of my work that remain unidentified in the confines of my session room became loud and illuminated. Being seen in my flow, in my joy — transmitting the unexplainable, side by side with hearts connected, permanently changed the game.
Dear Maya, the overwhelming pride and compersion that fills me when I see your Dakini essence emerge is like the energy of falling in love, winning the lottery, and moving to Bali all in one burst. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
7. Hell Yes, Heart Open, Let the Fuck Go
Speaking of Bali … hehe … I moved here. As I write this, it has been nearly two months since I flew into a new dimension of hell-fucking-yes happiness. There were many reasons why I shouldn’t have moved to Bali, but only one thing mattered: my body said yes, and I was quiet enough to hear her speak.
As I prepared to leave it all behind, I was fortunate enough to find love and closure with lover, Ben. We walked along the Venice shore together, hand in hand, looked Buddha in the eye and painted a picture of how our love could still grow. It was beautiful, and as long overdue as it seemed, it arrived at the perfect time. He sees my Dakini dance at the ocean’s horizon and I see him in his steady Shiva, opening to more vulnerability, more truth, more love. A few weeks ago, in a mystical sound-healing ceremony in Bali, I wept in gratitude for the first time about the kindness in him letting me go. Thank you, Ben.
The leap to a new life also brought the challenge of letting go … over and over and over again. The chosen family that had so nurtured me for five years and had so confounded me in the sixth was heavy on my mind as I decided to start another intentional family. So, it became time to both reconcile with them and let them go, at least physically. I had a beautiful transitioning talk with Kamala Devi and an epic send off with James, Twin, Roxy, and Summer. I’m so grateful for their continued presence in my life and all that I learned in the incubator of their loving arms. AND, what gets you to one stage of transformation won’t get you to the next.
And here I am … in the next … the now. I stepped onto a plane with Rachel, Dave, and Paula and didn’t look back. I’m in love with it all, but it isn’t a fairytale. Upon arrival the utopian community dreams started to quickly crumble. I realized that my go-to habit of throwing myself under the bus to save everyone and keep the family together needed some updating. So I threw myself a life raft and landed in a posh palace for one, just minutes away from my beloveds. We are part of an extended community of devoted Tantrikas who bring so much richness to my life and practice. The fruits of this communal practice are so abundant, I practically have mangoes coming out my ears. And more importantly, they’ve taught me to never settle for less. If you want to move to Bali, get three massages a week, practice Tantra nearly 24 hours a day, then don’t settle for less. Love is where your hell yes is.
8. Bali Guru
Dear Bali, I underestimated your magic. Many apologies. The way lives are lived here is different. It isn’t all rosy and perfect, but the Balinese have an appreciation for beauty, ritual, and the passionate pursuit of happiness, communion, and cooperation that oozes wisdom. People are enthusiastically helpful and curious and in tune with the rhythm of nature. How does this affect the spiritual seekers, the Californian transplants? It sings to us, it provides a freedom that actually becomes a pressure cooker for our deepest longings and darkest shadows. It isn’t that there isn’t any room to hide, but there isn’t any need to.
In the field of support provided by my Tantra Kula, and even my landlord, housekeeper, green juice delivery girl, personal trainer, favorite massage practitioners, and yoga teachers, sets the stage for rapid development and graceful dissolution.
The Balinese will be the first to tell you “slowly, slowly.” They alert me to the things I speed up for and the reasons why I think I need to. They remind me to embrace stillness and relaxation and to never rush for anything or anyone. What do I do with this slow-like honey embrace? I bathe in it. I play lustfully with paradox. I explore the cycles of birth and death and birth and death that live in my breath. I wrap my mind around the guru-student dynamic and what it means to be on both sides of that fence. I dare to swim beyond the reef into the unknown, fearlessly, and I fall in love over and over and over again.
9. Gooey, Absolute Love
Sometimes love takes over, sometimes it takes you down, sometimes it lifts you up … but whatever its trajectory, it usually makes a gooey mess. Well, my experience with love right now is like putting on a perfectly tailored tuxedo made of goo. The structure of the suit feels good against my skin. I feel contained in myself, surrounded by a self-love that nurtures the depth of my flesh. As I walk down the street, only certain people notice my goo-suit. These people recognize the infinite potential of hearts waking up together because they are wearing their own uniquely tailored goo-suits. As we cross paths, our sleeves rub up against one another and meet in a gooey kiss. As our threads intertwine, we continue walking and looking forward together. Yes, there are sideways glances of awe and whispers of “is this really happening?” type of love and temptations to stop and get lost in one another’s gaze forever … but we keep looking forward instead. We know our mission isn’t to get stuck in a four-eyed projection loop, but to keep our faces focused forward, linking arms with more gooey-suited creatures until our critical mass shifts the very nature of reality.
10. I’ll Be Your Spiritual Cliche
Saving the most tender for last: I’ve become the spiritual cliché I’ve made fun of for many years. I moved to Bali. I changed my name. I even told a guru I wanted to go to India with her. So much of me wants to explain and defend this. To reassure you that I’m still the same guru-weary, practical, atheist Tantrika that you know and love. And I am. And I am not. I get that it’s not very satisfying to just tell you it is everything. But it is. As I hold on to myself, I let go of myself. As I surrender to new teachers, I step more into being a teacher myself. As I bathe in the delight of absolute nothingness, in awe of the mystery, I remain unseduced by stories of God. And yet, I’m willing to put my forehead to the ground in reverence to that who can’t be defined … that who can’t be dissolved, even as it dissolves constantly … every particle, every cell … dancing, playing…
Lalita = She who plays (with)
Alaya = The foundation of everything, the undissolvable, the endless inner sky
Nice to meet you.
Want to learn more about my journey or hear the story of how the name Alaya first emerged? Please read my Year in Review blogs below.