A Key and a bit of Context
Here are a few guiding principles to use as you navigate my blog.
The first and foremost is this: the opinions expressed here, the stories you read here are my personal experience. When appropriate, I change the names of people, or else receive their permission first before mentioning them.
I am a graduate of Mama Gena’s School of the Womanly Arts. I call myself a Sister Goddess, as do 1000′s of tiara wearing women. You can read all about that fine institution at Mama Gena’s website. I learned life-changing lessons there that impact my life on a minute-to-minute basis. I use “brag” and “desire” as verbs in a very specific way. I also had some of the most delicious fun I have ever had in my life.
I have been a long time member of the 12 Step Program for families and friends of alcoholics, called Al-Anon. You can read more about that too at AlAnon.org.
I mention these two places of learning because round until I found myself seated in those rooms, I was headed in a direction that was cluttered with fear, self-loathing and resentment. Though my life was very interesting, I was neither joyful nor operating from my deep heart. I was conducting my life based largely on what I thought others thought of my choices and me.
Maybe this is familiar to you?
The learning I have done has increased my practice of GRATITUDE. I am in constant contact with God/Goddess/the Divine in recognition for the myriad gifts bestowed on me with every breath. This changed my life. I began to see challenges, sorrows and mistakes as opportunities. I began to wake up to connect with God and see the gift in a day that may include activities previously considered agony. I learned to appreciate my own personal characteristics for the insight they could give me. I will write more about this on my blog, and in my upcoming book - Laundry Line Divine.
BRAG: This is one of the finest gifts I got from my friend Regena Thomashauer. She is the leader of the School of the Womanly Arts and a Pleasure Revolutionary on the front lines of reclaiming Pleasure as a conversation with the Divine. More on her at her website www.mamagenas.com.
What do I mean when I say “I brag I have your attention and I am so glad to have you here?”- I mean that I notice and appreciate the effort I have exerted, the work I have done to organize myself in to having a website, having a passion to share my journey as a artist/mom, and the great opportunity I have in this moment. I use the tool of Bragging daily as a way to celebrate all I do in my life.
This does not mean that I have earth shattering news every time I brag. For instance this morning, at 8 am when both kids were out the door, I paused over my tea to consider a few brags- well, in the 80 minutes I’d been out of bed, I had done a bit of yoga, gotten both kids up, folded 2 baskets of wash, hugged my Hub, organized 2 lunches, set both kids up for their plans in the afternoon, eaten breakfast, emptied the dishwasher, emptied the dish drainer next to the sink and filled it with freshly washed dishes. Now, I could have slunk upstairs to clean up my act for the day thinking that it was 8 and I wasn’t dressed yet, hadn’t done anything meaningful. But, by taking a moment to brag, I could enjoy all the small moves I’d made that eased my kids in to their day, eased myself into the day and cleared the kitchen so it was ready for the next meal.
Did you ever notice that men brag so easily? In casual conversation you may hear all sorts of achievements and observations about a man’s day. But women? They could have moved mountains by 9 am, but if you ask them, no, they likely have not even begun to work on that to-do list, even if they have launched a couple of kids to school, dressed and arrived at work on time. As a kid I was warned “Don’t toot your own horn”, that living small and unnoticed would keep me out of trouble and not give me a “Big Head”. This advice had the effect of taking moments of celebration right out of my days. Oh, there were some, but it was always in hushed tones and don’t make a fuss because God is watching and apparently he was not so interested in the party I wanted to have.
I have since learned otherwise. I believe God appreciates our attention. I do what I do, not because I want to please God or anyone else, rather they seem like the right things to do. The still small voice with in me is that voice. You might hear it or access it differently.
That is Bragging. I brag because I notice and want to celebrate the baby steps to having a great start to my day. I brag because it sheds light on what might otherwise flow as water over a dam, unnoticed and unacknowledged. I brag because it helps me see how wildly effective I am without having to leap tall buildings, but just folding the wash one basket at a time and moving to the next right action. I brag because it helps me value all that I am as a woman.
GRATITUDE: I grew up saying grace before each meal. We sang or spoke a prayer. It was a moment of pause before diving in to the food before us. What is different about the way I offer gratitude today, whether it is in conversation, a note or just a moment of internal dialogue- gratitude puts me in a receiving state where I can notice and receive all that has brought me to this moment. It helps me in the grocery check out line when I am grumpy as heck, tired and in a hurry. Whew, I stop and say thank you to the similarly harried person handing me my receipt. I change the dynamic right there. Each of us pauses to take a breath and maybe even smile. Next there is the person bagging my groceries. Thank you and another smile. I believe by inserting gratitude in to your day your kids will behave better. They may even catch the bug you have- your partner will feel appreciated for changing the tires or being home early to help with homework or whatever else he or she has done that you notice with gratitude. It is the grease of human relationship; it layers us up with a smooth slick surface of ease and love. It makes the most difficult passages more navigable because we feel appreciated. I am ever grateful for my health and well-being. I am grateful for my warm house. I am grateful for time to write. I never ever want to find myself inattentive to the blessings around me. So, I offer gratitude and you will read some of them here in my blog.
DESIRE: Here is a good one. Bragging takes a bit of a cultural shift. Gratitude wakes you up to all you have created and received in the course of time. Desire- YEOW- desire is the invitation to collaborate with the Divine. It is a mix of prayer, invitation, a wish and a dream. In one of my favorite prayers at a point of addressing God, says “You, to whom no secrets are hid, all desires known”. I love that. Desire is your appetite for growth, for fun, for solutions, for transformation, for joy, for help. Stating a desire sets your longing to words. It frees your energy from being in a state of need or lack and activates your life force to begin to create what you desire. Stating a desire takes your passionate wish and sets in on the airwaves of the Universe to begin creating that which you desire, OR something better.
PLEASURE: I am here to rewrite the meaning of Pleasure. Doesn’t it conjure up nasty indulgent excess? Not any longer, not here at Laundry Line Divine. Pleasure evokes for me all that comes as a result of listening to my inner guidance. Just today, here in the middle of my workday, I felt pulled to go for an ice skate on the lake down the street. I had not done any exercise and before I work, I like to get out and see the world a bit, breathe clear air. Ugh, ice skating meant getting all bundled up, it is a cold day here. But, my inner guidance kept at me- ‘oh come on, it is a beautiful gray sky day here, just go out for a little while’. I felt the pull and knew enough now to answer the call. I grabbed a clementine, peeled it and plopped it in my pocket. Drove down to the lake so I’d have shelter in case I needed it. I strapped on my skates, tightened the long laces and set off. I had the lake to myself but for an ice fisherman across from where I would skate. I didn’t feel too much of anything but cold and grumpy until I skimmed on to the black ice and in flooded to my heart a river of well-being. I skated on. Out in the middle of the lake, where friends cleared a rink, I skated round and round, marveling at the crystal forms in the ice. Then something caught my eye. Just overhead was a pair of red-tailed hawks, circling over the icy lake, perhaps in hope of spying a small animal to eat. This, to me, this encounter was massive proof of the value of listening to that guidance and partaking in the pleasure of ice skating on black ice, of being outside, of taking myself out of my warm workroom to experience something out of my comfort zone. This to me is incorporating pleasure in to my daily life.
You can tip drams of pleasure in to absolutely any situation and feel the presence of the Divine. I assure you, since I have become a Pleasure Revolutionary, I have sat beside the bed of my dying mother-in-law, I have witnessed my own Mom’s decline, I have had major surgery, I have mothered a teenager and not gone under the waves of despair for long. I have begun to notice the gifts in these otherwise dreadful situations. I have been transformed by attending to Pleasure. I have received life-changing joy because of this. Those situations continue, but my interaction with them is forever different because I see the gifts. It is sad, yes terribly sad to see my Mom declining in a nursing home. When I visit her I bring nice lotions to massage in to her hands, I sit and knit beside her and tell her stories, I appreciate the women who care for her, and my heart is lighter. I can pay attention to the circumstance and not be overwhelmed with grief.
I will write more about PLEASURE because it is a potent tool for transformation. I see it as an opportunity to delight in every moment of my day. I put myself on a Pleasure Diet this past holiday season. Every day I had a commitment to do something, however small, that I would thoroughly enjoy. Some days this played out as going to bed early with a hot water bottle and book. One evening my daughter and I got a manicure pedicure, which gave me a visual reminder of pleasure every single time I saw my orangey red toes. I made sure I fed myself in a timely fashion, I took breaks, I said ‘no’ to things that felt overwhelming. I dressed in a way that made me feel elegantly warm, not layered up like a snow lady.
Adding the awareness of pleasure to your day could take the shape of a nice napkin to use at lunch, something special that catches your eye and makes you smile. One thing will lead you to another, I assure you. Like ice skating leading me to see the red tail hawks, soaking in a bit of pleasure, like sunshine, leads you to attract more pleasure, more beauty and ease. And in the experience of pleasure further abundance and joy will make its way in to your life in ways you and I cannot even begin to imagine.
I will add on to this key as things crop up. Please do not hesitate for one tiny instant to ask me about something that is not clear to you.
I don’t intend for this blog to be educational, but I do desire it to be conversational. If I write about something you are interested in, let me know and I will post more about it. I love that you are here. Thank you so much for coming!