Incision

8 days. Until the full crossing. The threshold. Mother to Crone.
 
In my morning practice of oiling the body, my hands find their way to the incision that brought my first born into my arms 22 years ago.
 
I move my fingers first up and then down, then left to right and right to left, and finally clockwise and counter clockwise over the scar in the way I was shown, hands over mine, releasing the adhesions formed inside the body.
 
Adhesions:
 
A year earlier it was Deb who again helped release a different kind of holding in the womb–the pain of two miscarriages, two abortions at 16, sexual trauma, heartbreak, childhood terror, pervasive fear.
 
As I lay on her table, under a soft blanket, with the November sun lighting the room, Deb asked:
 
Are you ready to let it go?
 
And tears, held so long inside, streamed down my face.
 
November:
 
Both my boys were conceived in this month–my first son just two weeks after Deb placed her hands on my womb.
 
November also holds the anniversary of the birth and death of my beloved grandfather–on the 17th.
 
I’ve felt my Poppop’s warm and effervescent presence this week, and he lives on in my youngest son. But recently he also arrives in the warm and loving presence of a new friend, whose company, “coincidentally,” I’ll share this weekend, as Joan leads a retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, entitled Writing down the Light.
 
It was decades ago that I began writing down into the deep, dark cavernous loss, but it only in the last handful of years that I zeroed in on the tragedy that irrevocably rocked my world at 14.
 
Lila, my paternal grandmother, died two decades before my grandfather, in an accident on a bridge that extinguished everything that stood at the center of my life.
 
My father’s tears are what I recall from that July afternoon when we met on the tarmac where I had been sipping a McDonald’s shake while waiting for him to arrive without knowing why he was coming or that I’d be leaving with him. Vanilla.
 
We flew back in that small plane and arrived at her house–filled with family–but forever vacant to me.
 
Two summer ago, on the anniversary of the accident I returned to that airport, and found my hands trembling so badly, and my mind so frantic, that I could have easily crashed the car.
 
I lost more than my grandmother and my aunties to the Mac Truck. I lost the Matriarchy under whose wings I had been protected and nourished and promised a future.
 
I lost something else too. I gave it up actually. Spit it out.
 
My belief in God.
 
And tears.
 
I refused to ever cry again, and met that resolve, until a handful of years later, when I received the news that her house would be sold, and then I balled like a baby on my boyfriend’s lap in my grandmother’s kitchen.
 
Lila was the age I am now in our last year together, and I am finally writing down the light that meets me here in the last days before becoming Crone–a year in which the wise blood remains inside, offered not to the earth as it has been for 40 years, but to the heavens ever more until I like her leave this world.
 
Lately, I find myself able to weep, easily–at desires once held, and desires still aching to unfold–and at the way the snow released from an iron sky yesterday morning.
 
Today I wake into a spontaneous meditation at the crown. It unfolds, like a warm woolen shawl, once tight with abandonment, now open and unfurling toward the sky.

 

 

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Night, like Trump~A hormonal fable


Now that the days are shortening, like the days of my life, night comes, like a barge, toward my ship, and lurks ominously, like Trump, behind Hillary, at the Town Hall debate.

Sometimes night comes even closer, with an unwanted advance, and nudges my boat, just enough, to stir panic inside.

Other times, night enters more forcefully, and the impact is enough to tip my vessel to its side, and I feel the contents of my cabin slide across the floor, and then toward me, as the boat begins to sink, backwards, or sometimes nose down, and sometimes folded in half, plunging into the icy cold waters of death.

Night has been coming like this more and more.
I live in fear of that day in November.
No, not that one.
The other one; where we set the clocks forward
and night comes even swifter.

After that, comes the other night in November;
but I’ve taken care of at least my cabin
with an early ballot.

Last night, I gathered with women
to chase away the darkness,
but night found me even there, in the middle of the dance,
in the center of our power,
as a friend quipped: Nasty Women!

I’m typically buoyant after the dance,
but my ship could barely stay afloat before I docked it into the harbor of sleep.

I woke this morning, long before dawn, to the murky fear of death,
not just mine, but those I love.

I rose then, and began writing, this fable,
and soon, I found in me, an invincible light,
even in the darkness,
with the promise,
of a new day.

~

~

More musing regarding that second day in November:

It doesn’t have to be so hard…

I begin my day in the dark, waking long before dawn, leaving behind my dormitory bunk for a room called Shadowbrook at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

The sky is still dark an hour later when Shadowbrook fills with Let Your Yoga Dance teacher trainees who take their place on mats in front of me.

Me?
What am I doing here?
How am I the one on the dais?

At 6:30 am, we begin the practice of yoga, the last class before their graduation.  After centering, I guide them in a series of warming poses, at which point I look down to see that in my rush to get dressed in the dark, I grabbed the wrong top, and the one I’m wearing allows my cleavage to spill out each time I bend in front of them.

In a wild act of incompetence (unimaginable in my previous incarnations) I ask: Could someone tie these straps to my bra?

And with that, the spell is broken–the one between me and them–as two women jump up to restore my modesty, and I step down off the dais.

“Kelly,” someone calls from the back, her voice freed, “Would you turn off the lights? The sun is about to rise.” (Others nod their approval.)

I walk the length of the room to the back of Shadowbrook, turn the dial, and then return through the rows of mats toward the platform.

Just before I step up, I turn to share something that I’ve only just realized: I feel so much better down here with you.

The students smile and tell me that it will be fine if I teach from the floor, “We can see you.”

I exhale, relieved, and guide them through a series of strengthening poses before inviting these brave warriors onto their backs, into the 4th chakra, the sweet pause–the heart of the Let Your Yoga Dance classes–that soon they’ll be leading in their hometowns around the country and abroad.

I return to the platform and bring my knees to my chest, and we roll toward one another,
breathing deeply, in and out, in and out.

In the sweet pause of breath, I see in them a sea of babies,
“A room full of Let Your Yoga Dance Instructors,” I say,
Ready to be born.”

Like soft bubbles rising from the mats, I hear giggles,
which slowly, then rapidly, swell across the belly of Shadowbrook,
and pop into a chorus of joyous release, until no one can hear or cares to hear my directions.

There are still giggles as we lift our legs into the air,
Happy Baby, while the sun lifts over the mountain
birthing this new day.

The last spell to be broken is the invitation to leave behind the mat and come to the front of the room where we gather in a circle, arms around each other’s backs, Virabhadrasana III, Warrior III–flying toward our destiny–and as we take in each other’s gaze, it’s as if we are flying in the sky, together, in mutual bliss.

I can’t remember what came next, not the inversion or Savasana, because when the class ended, Pam came from the back of the room to tell me what she now knew (and what we all long to remember):

“It doesn’t have to be so hard.”

After the last of the students thanked me and went off  to breakfast, I returned to my room, and changed my shirt, and lay down on my bunk, and pulled the curtain around me, and teared up, in raw humility, for my perfect imperfection.

I had wanted to be so much more, but I can only be myself.

Isvara Pranidhana.

I have a dream too…

Artist: Jen Norton

I have a dream

That no woman would choose abortion

Out of fear

Or shame

Or finances.

I have a dream

That each baby born would be celebrated.

Provided for.

Nourished.

Nurtured.

I have a dream

That girls would grow up to love their bodies.

Their minds.

Their strength.

Their ability.

I have a dream

That each woman would

Claim her sexuality.

Share her body, only
by invitation.

Welcome a child, knowing
that her community
Would always support
the gift of life.

I have a dream

That every father would teach his daughter self-love.

His son, self-respect.

His family self-knowing.

I have  a dream

That every mother would teach her son self-disclosure.

Her daughter, self-care.

Her family, self-restraint.

I have a dream

That we would recognize the fabric of our connection

With each life.

With every family.

With all of the earth.

winging it…

Winging-It-Text
“I expect you to have a lesson plan for every day,” Steve says after his first classroom observation of my teaching.

We’re sitting across from one another, awkwardly, in children’s desks, in a third & fourth grade open classroom.

I find Steve attractive, both in face and form, particularly on Fridays when he wears jeans, and often when he is arrogant.

“I mean, if you get home, and your husband insists on taking you out to dinner,” he says, “Then of course you might miss a day’s planning, but don’t let that become a habit.”

I take in the dimples on Steve’s face, the snug fit of his pants, and consider whether I want to tell him that I have never arrived (and never would arrive) unprepared, and that this has nothing to do with his expectations (or my husband’s.)

If I had been more than 29 at the time, I would have understood that Steve liked his teachers subservient. Female. Uncertain. That he accomplished this with a carefully measured combination of charisma, charm and intimidation.

I remember the boasts of a real-estate agent, who was also a board member, the one who showed us the available apartments around town: “Steve keeps his teachers in line.”

I left at the end of the school year.

I am a planner. In fact, I still have the index card onto which I penciled a timeline of my life: Wedding. Relocation. House. Baby.

It didn’t work out that way. Instead it went like this: wedding.. miscarriage…relocation…miscarriage.

Lucky for me, I burnt out working for Steve. Burnt right through my masculine approach to life which allowed the feminine to finally force her way through.

Twenty years later, as I instruct Let Your Yoga Dance instead of fractions, I begin to notice that when I leave space in my plans, spirit conspires in unimaginable ways.

With this growing awareness, I explore new rhythms of preparation and release; and each time I am rewarded with greater inspiration and an unfolding, effortless ease.

Back when I worked for Steve, I expected myself to know everything and do everything well, and I drove myself to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion in this pursuit; But at 50, I find myself drawn to endeavors that I’m unable to master, knowing that I will be forced to bask in imperfection and to seek the alliance of spirit to see me through.

This past week, at the last moment, both a class and a retreat had to be relocated to spaces that wouldn’t accommodate what I had carefully planned.

I had a choice to make.

I could reinvest time and energy–nose to the grindstone–in fairly unpredictable directions, or I could release my tension and show up, open-handed, letting spirit guide…