Category Archives: SANCTUARY

(all things relating to sacred space, spirituality, places of peace – inner & outer)

and the world cracks open

It’s too early for me to be up. I got home well after midnight last night (earlier today?) and didn’t get to sleep until after 2 a.m. I suppose the massive size of my to-do list is weighing on me… which I can’t divulge  because the surprises I have planned for this weekend will not be .. surprises.

I’m sitting at my dining room table, listening to traffic noises and a crow cawing while I sip my delicious Saltspring Island coffee and tap my phone screen to write this. The sunrise outside the living room window is astonishingly beautiful. I said so, to the cats, but I don’t think they understood, although Leia did hop up to her perch by the window and intently stared at the birds flying by.

The big oak trees in the park have shed most of their leaves now, though there are a few hangers on. The evergreen conifers stand out amongst the filigreed deciduous tree limbs. I’m thinking a snowfall would be lovely just about now, although I think it is still too mild for one. The sky has that metallic grey pallor that hints at winter though, so I may get my wish for a white Christmas yet.

There is a mountain of chocolate on the table amongst other gifts I’ve been amassing over the weeks. I may well spend the actual day of Christmas alone this year, but the gifts will begin filtering out soon, into the hands of those I cherish.

As I sit here alone in my little dining alcove, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude, for my life as it is now, for the wonderful beings who people it, for the person that I am discovering within myself. There is a sort of peace in self-acceptance and appreciation. I am not perfect but I have grown to appreciate my own company.

I’m not sure what that means. I have been uncoupled for what will soon be eight years. I have a full life and enjoy the continual journey of discovering what other treasures I can discover within it – many, this I am certain of. I hope that I can in some way repay the pleasure that life gives me by giving to it back in-kind.

The ancestral work I have been doing with Nikiah Seeds has been one of many catalysts, though it is clear that it has perhaps been the straw, but rather than breaking the camel’s back, it has opened up access to the sort of healing that generations upon generations of my people, my blood, my genes, have been calling for from the other side. We have only just begun. There is much to do, but oh, there is so much hope and an expectation of release. Soon, with Nikiah holding the space and sharing wisdom, I will deepen this practice further. I am infused with anticipation and excitement. What a gift, truly.

I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful.

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Vacation, day 1


There’s a story happening on my window sill this morning. The spider, the fruit fly and the cat who’s over the moon. With joy. To be sitting outside. Or close to me.

I am often in front of the sink, which faces the window. I’m in the kitchen now, making breakfast. Pour over coffee with lactose free whole milk, two cubes of raw sugar and two slices of bread, toasted and buttered. Not the best of menus, but simple and sufficient.

The butter was hard as rock when I pulled it from the fridge, so I cut a little corner of it off and tucked it into the microwave for a few seconds. The temperature has cooled off so much now that butter can safely be stored in the cupboard again without becoming a melted puddle.

I moved to the living room, ate the toast as I sat on the couch. The cat was meowing at the window, “Where are you?”

When I finished eating, I brought my plate into the kitchen and told her, “I’m here; come inside” but it took a few moments for her to decide to join me. I downed some ibuprofen for my shoulder pain. The physio session at noon yesterday (as it has for the last five Fridays) always sets me back a bit in regard to the shoulder pain. Everything feels like it’s raw and on fire, stiff and resentful.

I sat down again in the living room to take my coffee when she eventually lumbered over. She speaks to me in meows, certain that I understand. Maybe I do, now that I think of it. She seems to understand me too.

After kneading and walking across my legs a few times, she finally settled herself down half on the couch, half on my lap, rapt and purring for as long as I rubbed her behind the ears, under the chin.

After a while she left me to go back outside, and I decided that the call of the comfort of my warm bed outweighed the comfort of typing these words out on a keyboard rather than on my smart phone, so my thumbs are doing the hard work this morning.

Plans for today are largely to rest. I am so beyond tired at the moment that I feel a week off (well, nine consecutive days, actually) will barely scratch the surface of my fatigue, but I’m hopeful.

I want to rest but also do some planning, make lists of the things that I want to do so that I can slot them in, so that they get done. Time is so easily frittered away if not paid attention to.

The rain will surely help with getting me to complete the inside tasks simply based on the fact that it isn’t appealing to be outdoors. One of these days I’ll have to invest in a proper neoprene raincoat, pants and some waterproof shoes. Nothing I dislike more than getting my feet soaked, having them be cold and damp. Now that I don’t wear glasses, I don’t mind my face getting wet, and my hair as a fashion statement has been long abandoned.

There is a muscle twitching in my left quadricep. I worked out on Tuesday but that was days ago, so why the twitch now? The mysteries of this body has me in a constant state of both wonder and alarm. What next?

I’ve been invited to a housewarming party later today and I am not sure I will muster the energy to go. I want to vacuum and wash my sheets and bedding (yes, and rest too). And one can’t verily show up empty handed can one, and things are tight this week, especially if I want to do something more than just lay about the house. A social life is sometimes beyond my budget.

And I have loads of books I want to read. And to write, too. My writing habit, established at both financial and personal cost during my year-long writing program, is in a state of atrophy at the moment. I can rationalize many good reasons for not keeping it up, even for a short time, but in the end it’s my heart’s desire that suffers; the passions that set me apart from others whose calls go unanswered. An unrequited love, like the many others that life has pinned to me in some form or other.

So much to do, so little time, and such little order in my life. And ease. Not much in the way of ease, either. Working more provides a bit of financial slack but the lack of time leaves me unrested, or constantly trying to balance fatigue and overwork… hard to fit creativity into there, especially since writing takes so much energy.

Well, not all writing. Not this kind of writing. This is like a one-sided conversation; I can pretend to have an engaged and interested audience, even if there isn’t one. I’m good at suspending disbelief… just ask the cat; she listens to lengthy conversations, saves me from being the nutty one who walks around an otherwise empty kitchen and talks to herself.

Alright… time to rouse myself and brew a second cup of coffee. I can’t be deemed fully human or capable until the second cup is being consumed.

Au revoir! Je vous souhaite une bonne journée.

messages from the universe


The sun feels good on my feet. I’m sitting on the back porch, witnessing the shade shrink as the sun makes its progress across the sky. This morning it was tufted with puffy clouds, but now the sky is cerulean blue and streaked with washes of white clouds, as though watery paint is being moved over its surface, blown by an artist’s breath as it squeezes through a straw.

The kids swept the porch earlier, but another once over is needed, maybe even a good mopping, but I have other chores that await, too, inside.

My one day off a week.


It’s the kind of day that wants to keep me outside, with a good book (which I happen to be reading), in the shade. My feet poke out and rejoice in the sun. It isn’t too hot; a cool breeze is keeping things comfortable. Sometimes I can even smell the ocean in the air.

I am visited upon by a dragonfly the colour of fire. It flashes in the sunlight, alights on the tip of a banana leaf for long enough that I am able to scramble inside to grab my phone. Patiently it waits, posing for the camera, and as soon as the shutter snaps, it is airborne again, off to set fire to someone else’s day, to bring them a much needed message, if they pay close enough attention.

basking in gratitude

  
It’s just a smidgen before midnight; my week-long vacation is drawing to a close. 

The soft sound of rainfall can be heard through my barely open window. I could not have asked for better weather during these seven days. It’s been sunny and warm the whole time.

  
Spring can be so beautiful here. Everything is in bloom and the flowers run riot.

I rested, but I got a lot done, too. I cleaned for days, but I wrote too, and last Friday I read one of my pieces at an open mic in town. I’d been stressing about it all week so I’m glad I got that over with. It wasn’t as awful as I’d imagined and my son and his girlfriend came to support, though they arrived just as I was stepping off the stage. 

 

The highlight of the evening for me was to meet my TWSO cohorts and the very delicious elderflower and cucumber gin tonic that I had, which I had to replicate yesterday because it was the perfect drink to sip on a warm sunny day.

I have to admit that the less expendable time I have, the more precious it is. I savoured every single day that I had off, and while I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped, everything I did was done with an elevated sense of mindfulness and appreciation.

staycations and all that

the-universe-you-are-here (photo courtesy of catalyzingchange.org)

Today marks the end of my “staycation”, during which I did very little.

I worked two nights and two weekend days (though I will tonight as well, but have not counted it yet).

I nursed the wound of losing my Kittie to a sudden illness.
I rejoiced in welcoming two new (and very big) furry pusses into our family fold (not without some level of drama, I might add).
[I revel in the wisdom of my son and his lovely girlfriend who knew that these purring new additions would lessen my sorrow.]

I cooked for and entertained a handful of good friends.

I cleaned the fridge.
Did some household chores.

Slept (or tried to, despite bouts of insomnia compounded by construction noise).

Journeyed through ten days of a new(ish) meditative practice with Carrie Anne Moss via her Milk and Honey online course (which was delightful, though due to the aforementioned nursing of wounds, I must say I was less than focused on regular practice).

I spent some time thinking. Thinking about what I wanted (and didn’t).
I moved furniture around.
I read.
I unplugged.
I spent a lot of time musing about how fleeting all of this is.

I thought about how much importance we impart to our meaning.
I wonder at the dichotomy of finding meaning in all of this and our establishing self-importance through the act of finding meaning.
Does either serve us well? Do both, simultaneously?

I pondered on how “meaning” and my understanding of it has shifted over the years; what I thought meaningful at different stages of my life.
How the shift in paradigm could not have occurred by any other means but through the passage of time and experiential knowledge, the grinding away of my external “skin” to smooth away all of the edges that I held on to as parts of who I believed I was integral to the journey.

I considered that perhaps some of those edges were necessary (and, now that they are no longer there, have changed me in inexorable ways – not always for the better).

I considered ways in which I could tap into the juice that those edges brought into being through other means more aligned with who I am now.
And now.
And now.

I marvel at my ever-changing nature.
I honour her.

There is love in my heart. It flows through me and over me and out into the world. Our world.
This love feeds back into me in ways that I would never have noticed a decade ago… or perhaps even yesterday.

I give thanks.
I have much to do.

solstice blessings

Holiday Lights

Hello sun. Daylight grows from here on out, my SAD-ridden spirit happily acknowledges.

The days will grow now, and though I would have liked to have a lovely quiet snowfall over Christmas, it seems unlikely given the mild (and hence rainy) temperatures we are currently having.

Maybe it’s because the end of a calendar year is nigh, but this time of year has a virtual flag on it for me to spend a bit of time reflecting on what has passed and on what is to come. The little incremental changes that happen daily don’t seem like much until they are reviewed in retrospect. We do a lot and we only realize it when we look back at it from a distance.

As my friend Jill so eloquently shares in her most recent newsletter, this time of year can bring with it all sorts of stress right along with the revelry – if you let it – and how we celebrate is ours to determine.

Since our wee family broke up in 2009, our holiday traditions have changed too. Since then I’ve spent a few years celebrating with friends rather than what little remains of my family (my son often travels to be with his dad over the holidays) or at times on my own (by choice).

I’m not sure what these celebrations signify for me anymore. I don’t have the urge to conspicuously consume, and I just don’t have the means to generously give gifts anymore. In many ways this ongoing situation has forced me to redefine how I might show appreciation and still remain in the giving spirit of the season.

A good part of this year was spent wracked with worry, with striving. I have been in full survival mode, and it squeezes out any room I might have had for creativity. Scrambling is exhausting work, so sleep was always a necessary refuge (what it lacked in quality was made up for in quantity).

I wish I had the discipline to work through it all, to create despite not having the urge (or the energy, really) to. Perhaps it would have reenergized me in the end. Or maybe it would have been akin to planting seeds in fallow ground – too late to investigate that now.

This year ends tinged with hope. There is a roof over our heads. We will have enough to feed ourselves and to pay for the necessities of life (in great part because of the help we are receiving from others).

I am grateful for –

Family
Good friends
A caring community
Internet connectivity
Coffee
Chocolate
Consistent work
Eggnog
Memories to draw solace from
My creative muse
Sunlight
Possibility & potential
Everyday manifestation of the numinous
Opportunity to celebrate, always & everything

The rest of today will be spent cleaning up, doing laundry, experimenting with candied citrus and risen dough, making some lavender and thyme shortbread cookies. I have found that when life gets immensely complicated, the only thing left to do is to revel in simplicity.

Wishing you all love and the brightest of blessings.

honouring the ancestors… and someday you’ll be one

halloween_feet
The wheel turns. As we sink into this darker half of the year, customs abound in all cultures on deeper contemplation, on honouring what has come before, on feeling gratitude for the fruits our of labours (and perhaps, in retrospect, at having been afforded the opportunity for this most recent revolution around the sun).

When my son was little, I wanted to compensate for the lack of fanfare of my own childhood during these holidays by making his a grand production.

We went to pumpkin patches and gutted and carved our share of large orange gourds.
We roasted salty pumpkin seeds once they were gleaned from the slimy guts.
We ordered costumes and went trick-or-treating.

I had never incorporated the idea of honouring the ancestors during this time even though I was well aware of the idea of the thinning of the veil between our worlds. It would have been an appropriate time to bring it up to him. Maybe I wanted him to rejoice in the fun parts of childhood without becoming morbid, or rather, without diminishing with sombreness the indefatigable vibrancy of youth.

After my mother’s passing, the last one of my two parents, there was a sort of severing of rootedness that took place. In some ways, I was anxious to be free of the constraints. In so many ways I’d tried to find happiness within the narrow parameters that they had set as their view of who I was, and I think we all walked away from the table mostly dissatisfied.

I keep thinking that human potential is limitless, if we are mentored beyond our perceived limitations. I don’t mean that we don’t individually have any, only that if we can picture what is beyond the area that we think is the greatest reach of our potential, we are able to somehow come up with a way to access the road that will bring us there. Mentors, advocates, are truly gifts to the world as they help lead the way there. Sometimes, ever on our fool’s journey, we are incapable of seeing the path on our own.

I suppose as parents the biggest task we are given is to help our offspring become skilled in discernment, to learn to know what and when to believe in the constant stream of incoming information, and what to do with it – to learn how to translate it all into some form of action that will lead us forward in a favourable manner.

I don’t know if I’ve accomplished this task, as a parent. I know mine failed at this, and I’ve had to learn by much trial and error how to guide myself onward. Maybe it’s something that can’t be taught because it is as individual as we are in how we approach it.

In any case – in my usual penchant to tangents – I return us to last night, the Eve of All Hallows or Souls Day.

candy_bowl
I went in to the neighbourhood grocery store to pick up a few things, particularly the candy I intended to hand out to trick or treaters. I had held out on purchasing it mostly to save me from myself. As I exited the store and started heading up the sidewalk towards home, I heard the unmistakeable sound of my native tongue. Because it is such a rare occasion to hear it spoken, I wheeled my cart back around and said hello. We chatted on the sidewalk for a while, and then, at the invitation of one of the women, we holed up in Starbucks for over an hour to continue the conversation.

I haven’t really spoken a whole lot of Hungarian since my mother passed in 2003. We would speak on the phone every couple of days (I was living in California and she was living on the outskirts of Montreal). The frequency of our calls kept up my language skills, although I never would have considered myself as fluent in the language as a native speaker. It’s not that I don’t understand or speak, only that the expressions, turns of phrase, vastness of vocabulary is something that would take time to get used to if I were to truly count myself among them. Within an hour my odd little accent began smoothing out. I began remembering words and how to use them during a discussion. We discussed getting together on a regular basis and inviting other Hungarians aching to chat in their mother tongue too.

When I got home last night I realized that what had transpired was the greatest homage that I had ever paid to my parents and ancestors. I had been ruminating, initially, on how I would set about doing just that. Last week I had spent some time watching Jo Rowling go about searching out her own roots. I had envisioned setting up a shrine of sorts, and spending some time in meditation, or perhaps journaling about what they had meant to me, and contemplating on the far reach of my own roots.

Last night I felt that perhaps, with this thinning of the veil, they had orchestrated this meeting to remind me that they are not so far away after all.

reverse engineering desire

Durga

It’s been a month+ since we’ve started our The Desire Map journey and I have yet to really engage in any meaningful journaling on it.

Desire is such a touchy word. I suppose that’s where the “core” part comes in, in this context.

Desire.

The task we had set for this week was to take two things overall that we resonated with and two that we felt were foreign and to discuss them at our next Spreecast book group meeting.

In any case….

Not much of what is shared in The Desire Map fails to resonate with me. In fact I can’t think of a single thing. The heaviness of goals versus inspired inklings led by deep inner-belly intuitive knowing especially speaks.

Life is juicy – Danielle says so – but it doesn’t take her telling me for it to be so, or for me to know the truth of that statement. It simply is a good and sometimes much needed reminder of it being so.

With that said, though, it is at once both simple and complicated to live in this world post The Desire Map reading.

I overheard someone once say that after one reads The Four Agreements, one is forever changed – almost curse-like, if you will – and can never go back to seeing the world in the way it was perceived prior to having read it. In many ways that was true and it empowered me in a way that will forever remain with me, but its’ lessons were gently pervasive rather than slam in your gut *pow*.

The Desire Map is different.

As much as Danielle’s full admission to “Shakti” being one of her core motivators is obvious from the get go, there is an element of danger in all of this desiring business. As with all god-like archetypal energies, there is as much destroy as there is create in Shakti (in fact it is really rather a continual cycle of each). The trick is to embrace each aspect of it throughout the process – that’s the hard part.

That is the part that begs me to pay attention – to be aware – because without awareness and balance, footing is lost.

Several years ago I had reached a stalemate with desire. Through the process of elimination I knew what I didn’t want, an ever-growing itemization of things that didn’t work. I went looking for Shakti too.

No, really – in a literal sense. I had even posted a photo of adi-shakti to my Facebook page with the following:

Adi Shakti, Adi Shakti, Adi Shakti, Namo Namo! Sarab Shakti, Sarab Shakti, Sarab Shakti, Namo Namo! Prithum Bhagvati, Prithum Bhagvati, Prithum Bhagvati, Namo Namo! Kundalini Mata Shakti, Mata Shakti, Namo Namo!

Translation:

Primal Shakti, I bow to Thee! All-Encompassing Shakti, I bow to Thee! That through which Divine Creates, I bow to Thee! Creative Power of the Kundalini, Mother of all Mother Power, To Thee I Bow!

“Merge in the Maha Shakti. This is enough to take away your misfortune. This will carve out of you a woman. Woman needs her own Shakti, not anybody else will do it… When a woman chants the Kundalini Bhakti mantra, God clears the way. This is not a religion, it is a reality. Woman is not born to suffer, and woman needs her own power.”

“When India and Indian women knew this mantra, it dwelt in the land of milk and honey.” ~Yogi Bhajan (Harbhajan Singh)

I scoured the shelves of the Little India shops up The Main for a figure of Devi that I could take home. You can take the girl out of the ashram, but some things just stick, and though I know that no goddess is *actually* embodied in the moulded metal I funnel energy into, I know that concentrated energy and intent makes shit happen. I ended up with the one above who I believe is Durga.

I also felt compelled to reach for balance, so I found this lovely yab-yum, representing both aspects of deity united and balanced.

Yab-Yum

Sitting here at my current vantage point, I realize that it would probably be far more productive to get to where I want to by reverse engineering rather than by using the process of elimination. Start with a clear idea of what I want and work backwards rather than search for the absence of the things that didn’t work previously.

Our lives are a metaphor. I’ve come to realize as I go along. As with all metaphors, they can be interpreted in myriad ways, depending upon how they are viewed.

The Song Remains The Same
(Led Zepplin)

I had a dream. Crazy dream.
Anything I wanted to know, any place I needed to go.

Hear my song. People won’t you listen now? Sing along.
You don’t know what you’re missing now.
Any little song that you know
Everything that’s small has to grow.
And it has to grow!

California sunlight, sweet Calcutta rain
Honolulu Starbright – the song remains the same.
Sing out Hare Hare, dance the Hoochie Koo
City lights are oh so bright, as we go sliding… sliding… sliding through.

summer

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teeming summer bees and things
dragon fly-by buzzing the town
looking to give a ride to a damsel
it’s that time folks, step right up
trills and thrills mingle into one so
that neither are discernible from
the other; lake water lapping on
a shore beckons a toe then a foot
oh what the hell, let it claim all of
you – in neck deep now, might as
well dive in, even without the tire
swing to careen off of for leverage.

(c) 2014 Adriane Csicsmann Giberson