Dear Friends ….
Heat waves have brought us all to a sudden boil in the Bay Area, after one long, cold summer. I've actually been secretly happy for the cold - instead of carefree flirts and long nights out, I've huddled up with leg warmers and tea at my computer and actually, today, completed my memoir, From Kailas to Kali.
A few days ago a client said that her photo adventure was better than therapy and helped her be more honest about herself. I resonate so deeply with this in relation to my book project.
It's a story about my climbing inner and outer mountains, quite literally facing demons while searching for truth and personal power. It's the classic heroine's journey, of seeking it in all the wrong places and outside of self, but ultimately having to find it closer to home, through the body and wounds, and getting really intimate and honest with self in the underworld. Where I happen to meet the great goddess Kali… and if you're familiar with her, you'll know that she cuts away any ego, attachment, fear and illusion that stands in the way of truth and freedom. My 'awakening' took a journey to the world's most sacred mountain in Tibet, a ruined marriage in San Francisco and a rude awakening by the goddess who helped tear off my masks, drive me out of hiding and into true intimacy with my own sovereignty. Weeew!
But writing the book has been the REAL mountain to climb. And part of my redemption.
I've lived with this project for more than eight years. The first draft I wrote was a travelogue of the journey to the sacred Mount Kailas in Tibet. That book won an award, yet didn't sell, and it didn't actually feel like the book that lived in my belly. A couple of years later I was again working on the book, going deeper into what was really going on at that mountain and why that story haunted me so, but I still couldn't finish it. I didn't have the courage to be honest enough with myself. And I wasn't ready to take full responsibility for my truth, because, if I did, it might have meant big changes–such as leaving my marriage. Ironically, when I divorced a few years ago, I finally knew, it was time to write the real story.
As with personal, spiritual evolution, so with a book: it has its own incubation time. Over the years, I've learned to trust the process and timing rather than push it. To finish the story, I had to live more life to gain perspective enough to know the truth. Though, all this time, I had no idea that I was writing myself out of grief and into power.
I imagine this is what often happens for artists regardless of what medium they work in: they make art from the compost of their life and that which haunts them to the core of their being.
This story has haunted me and my particular compost has been a bunch of failures and fear of facing reality. It hasn't been easy nor particularly pretty this summer. I call it the summer of random acts of sobbing. Within minutes I've cried over the memory of signing divorce papers to being in awe of the words that come out of me just so. But grace did seep in, as it always does when we surrender: as I committed to the process and dug through all my compost once more, life took on a whole other dimension. Everything around me began to feed into the writing. There was no more separation between the story, the creative process and what was going on in my life. I kept attracting just the right comment from someone or the right situation to catalyze a new layer of understanding.
Like my former husband kept showing up and after two years I felt I was ready to tell him about my process of becoming honest and how his 'betrayal' was the prefect (though not preferred) catalyst for my stepping fully into my power as who I am. Or this beautiful lover I met who broke open my heart with his music and revealed to me how deep the Himalayas live in my blood and bones. Or how this friend kept making me feel obliged to save her and I finally stepped back and said, no thanks, not my job. Becoming honest on the page helped me be more honest about me in my daily life. And set boundaries. And ask for what I need. And complete things that I no longer which to drag along.
Direct personal experience is where things get juicy–it may not be pretty or exciting or even acceptable–but that's where composting and blossoming happen. I've learned that when I fully immerse myself in the presence of my life, there truly is no separation between our inside and outside. If you really pay attention to the qualities of thoughts and feelings and what's happening around you–synchronicities, co-incidences, repetitions, messages, tough love–notice how everything feeds into each other in one beautiful co-creative mess. To be in this awareness does not require a creative project like a book, it can simply be the active creating of your life. Try it. It makes life rich and you feel lusciously alive.
My book is about stepping into my truth and personal power, and this is now what I'm being asked to do. So yes, this project and process has been much better than therapy. No, I haven't reached self-mastery nirvana. I have still to learn my lessons. And of course resistance keeps poking its ugly head out, teasing me, poking me, to see if I'm willing to let go of more unhealthy patterns around truth and power. Slightly tender and grateful, I ask to move through it all and learn the lessons rapidly. Because, for the first time in my life, my desire to overcome the obstacles that hold me back has become stronger than my fear of it. It is no longer an option to not stand in my truth.
To be truly yourself you have to be willing to risk being judged, disappoint, make a fool of yourself, put out a lousy book, stand up to people's projections, someone recently said to me, and then asked, "Are you willing to do this?" Yes, I said. Full-hearted YES.
Dear sistars (and brothers), now I ask you: Are you willing to risk being judged and disappoint others as you are being more and more fully yourself?
What compost might your rise from and become the beautiful flower you are?
Gosh. I could be a preacher, couldn't I? A sexy rebel priestess preacher, of course, with love and freedom at the heart of my message.
Because, I want this for me. I want this for you.
Also posted this on OWNING PINK