This was not the average L.A. summer day. It was just hot, not blistering like the usual hot-yuck-smog day. I rarely walked on this particular path at this particular time. I couldn't even remember why I went home between classes. But it didn't matter. I was there, walking by the tennis courts, my thoughts unusually still.
Thwack! Rattttttttttle. Tennis balls slammed into the draped green fence trailing alongside me.
Thwack! Ratttttttttttle. Tremendous force hurled at me even though I was protected. The UCLA tennis team meant serious business.
The sun was bright, but the shade was comfortable. I looked up to see sunlight sparkle-dappling down on me, but I couldn't feel it as the shade slid over my face, keeping pace with my movement.
My brain registered the oddity of walking to class from this direction and began sorting out the fastest route. Veer right on through the new parking structure, over the driveway and up the hill. I picked up my pace, falling into rhythm with the tennis team. Was I late? No clue. Just walk. Keep pace.
Tennis rattles faded behind me as I ventured across the drive, angling to slip through the parking garage, pleased with myself for finding a shade route - complete with concrete coolness.
I walked in pace, but my eyes slid to the side, watching the strange way the light sliced across the cars at the edge low-cut wall, revealing and hiding them simultaneously, streaming harshly in search of something hidden in the dark. I was in the dark, and the sun was hunting me. As my foot hit the pavement outside it bathed me, the heat catching in my breath.
Time slowed and some other rhythm took over - like a heartbeat, but not mine. My body drew itself into the light, aiming for the small hill of grass between the driveways and my feet placed themselves deliberately as I took the five steps to the other side.
Step one. The crown of my head is swirling open to suck up the sun, streaming it into my depths, blinding me until only the faith in my feet on their path keeps me upright.
Step two. I am one with the universe, the sunlight reconnecting me to that which gave it birth. I am dizzy. Elated.
Step three. "You are chosen" the words shake into my core and my brain can't register even the incongruity of the moment, lost in the splendor of the light and the moment and the deep resonant connection invading the darkness inside me.
Step four. I am huge, swelling beyond anything my body has ever been, knowing I am big enough for those words, knowing I can do everything, knowing I am anything I ever want to be, knowing I will make a difference, knowing I will matter. Knowing I'm Jesus. And Buddha. And a billion other people who will save the world. Knowing I won't know how - maybe ever. Knowing it doesn't matter what I know. Knowing.
Step five. Exhaling, the light slipping out of me, heart beating. Eyes focusing. Words echoing. Don't lose the words. Keep the words. Don't forget.
My feet keep moving - never breaking stride as they carry me up the hill - toting my mind as it whirls all tilty-like.
I've been touched by God. I don't even believe in God but it touched me anyway. That must mean something, right? Even I couldn't dream up such fantasy, could I? It was real. The light was so bright. I can see the light, still glowing behind my eyes.
Not sure how I got into the hall, but there was Karen, saving my seat in lecture from the 300 other kids who probably wanted it. I flopped along side her, thwacking down the hard wooden seat as I gave in to gravity, resting on my path.
"Where were you?" She asked, shuffling papers on her lap. "Everything ok?"
"Yeah. Everything's fine. Just had to run get something I forgot."
I got out my paper and pen. Looked straight ahead as the professor came in and began the drone. I never knew what he said. All I knew was the thumping of the heartbeat that was mine.
Written for writing workshop (Kripalu, April 2011)
"Thank you, Dad."
"I'm so glad you brought me here to tell me that."
"I love you, Dana."
"It's beautiful here, you know. Someday you'll come here and we'll be together again."
"I'm not dead."
"I'm more alive than ever."
"I'm so happy to know that."
"It's just.... light here. I never knew."
"So much I never knew. Never told you. But you know it all. You knew it before I did. You always knew."
"Dad, do you remember the sail boats?"
"Which ones? The whaler or the little sloops?"
"All of them, I guess. I can only remember the sloops."
"Oh! That's right, you can't see the whaler anymore. But you know. We stood on the bowsprit and were men, dreaming we could fly and that our arms were sails."
"And this time you flew."
"Yes, I did. I flew everything with wings. Darn near killed me."
"Dad, the airplane did kill you, don't you remember?"
"That? The plane didn't kill me, I left. Just left. I was done. Moving on, you know."
"I wish you didn't have to go."
"What will we do next time? Where will we go now that we've flown?"
"I don't know."
"But we'll be together again, right? You'll wait? Please?"
"I don't know."
"I want to know."
"I don't know. You know that."
"I know that. But I want to know. I want us to be musicians and travel the world together. Free like we tried to be this time."
"We were free. Remember? Skiing? Flying? Swimming?"
"You want more."
"You always want more. That's what I love about you. You never let them take away anything that's yours."
"Yeah. Even you."
"I love you, Dad."
"I love you too, Dana. I'll be here."
Written for writing workshop (Kripalu, April 2011)
Written for writing workshop (Kripalu, April 2011)
Dinner at our house was so very quiet. The dish clatter and questions dad asked - about our opinions on things in the world mostly - muffled into the silence. Mom's mutterings on starving children in India transmuted into sonic signals absorbed into the protective bubble of things unsaid around me.
Parsley flakes on the chicken, the fuzzy Japanese red rug swirl under the table, and the mound of spaghetti that appeared on my birthday - they made it into the bubble. Why parsley when it didn’t taste like anything? Why wasn't the dog allowed on the Oriental rug? Did I have to wait another year for a meatball?
Mom worked hard to curate the joyless space and fearful feast we spread for dad - since he would have it no other way. Dad did his part by leaving so often - so we could relax and nourish ourselves on chatter and laughter like children might do if they were hungry.
Dad’s been gone 35 years now. My childish hunger has been sated. Now I miss him and wonder at what opinions I might share with him today - my bubble gone, my words claimed and my heart found. What might he learn in my silence now?
207 words - Written for writing workshop (Kripalu, April 2011)
I remember September 11th like it was yesterday. The first thing I remember is that my kids were in school about three and half miles from the smoking wreckage of the Pentagon. The next thing I remember is that my husband’s office was between the White House and the Capital– where the fourth plane was headed - and that he couldn’t get to the kids because everyone was running, driving and walking out of the city for their lives. The next image that swims into view was me - stuck in Los Angeles for a week away from my family and friends in NY and DC who were suffering so terribly. For the first and last time in years, I was glued to CNN to watch the tragedy unfold. Even LA shut down for three days, the American People were so shocked – and afraid.
But then what I remember was love. The great outpouring of support for the victims and their families - the calls for tolerance and not to continue the cycle of hate. My neighbors and country responded to those calls – for a while.
A Decade of Conflict
I’m very conflicted about the wars that have raged on our taxdollars over the past ten years. While I abhor violence, I’m not foolish enough to think that it doesn’t play a role in keeping our world from falling into chaos. My brother’s an ex-cop. My son wants to be a Marine. I live and work in Washington and I read the paper, struggling to understand the difficult choices my neighbors who run the country have to make on a daily basis. What I know about the policies and practices that try to keep our world safe reminds me that there is no simple solution. And so I wrestle with how I should feel about the fact that some of my taxdollars, which I give freely to the government that does so much for us, are used to drop bombs that birth widows and orphans.
My personal approach is not to engage in conflict. I vote my conscience. I don’t give energy to negative thoughts. I teach my children tolerance, acceptance and love. I contribute to good causes that help those widows. But that doesn’t relieve the conflict around me, or in me.
Nowhere is the conflict more apparent to me than when I think about the warriors themselves. In Arlington, VA where I live you see them on the streets, on the metro, in the coffee shops. They are the ones spending my taxdollars to create death and destruction. And they are the ones upholding my freedom and helping the children helping the children who are homeless because of their violence. Some of them are dear friends. All of them have my love, respect and sympathy.
Recently I worked on a project that took me into the halls of the Pentagon itself. The building has been nicely refurbished with a somber memorial and a more secure entrance that at least kept a crazy gunslinger at bay – instead of letting him run rampant inside - a few months before I took the job. On my first visit there I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know members of the military, but I’d never been in such a concentrated hotbed of them. What would the energy be like? Would it be brewing with anger as they plotted bombing campaigns and funding strategies to get more guns? Or would Defense Secretary Gates’ and Admiral Mullens’ balanced and – in my view – rational energy pervade?
As I walked the halls, had the meetings, joked with my friends over lunch, I made an effort to see them all with my magical eyes, and what I saw were people driven by a purpose, a belief, that what they did was noble, important and necessary. Many were weary. All were respectful. I liked that I could make them relax by seeing them with love, even though that wasn’t my job there.
But as I left the building I had another uncomfortable thought. The people we fight. The haters – both inside and outside our borders, inside and outside our institutions – they are also driven by purpose and a belief that what they do is important. They are also warriors in this fight. Are they worthy of my love and respect?
Loving the Haters
I do not love or respect hatred. The ends do not justify the means and hatred is a means. Even if pursuing a worthy goal, hatred brings consequences that tarnish the achievement, leave more heartache and breed more violence – if not to the body then to the soul. There are warriors on both sides that are noble and warriors who are haters. I choose not to respect or support the haters, no matter who they fight for. But I must love the haters themselves, for otherwise I am no better than they.
I must tell you that this hurts me. Opening myself up to hatred is painful. It reminds me that I am capable of hate myself. But that’s not the point. The only way I can combat the haters is to love them. I do not condone their actions; I support those that fight them in the flesh; I would be happy to see them behind bars. But I do not hate them. Selfishly, and to protect myself from becoming a hater, I send them my love.
On this day of remembrance, I muster my heartforce to send out streams of love to all those who have suffered at the hands of hate, and to those who have wielded the instruments of suffering. I don’t do this for noble reasons and I don’t do it easily. I do it because it is the only way I know how to fight.
Tell me, how has this decade of conflict affected you, your neighbors and your world? How do you cope? How do you fight? Share your stories, please.
Cross-posted on OwningPink.com OwningPink.com
Posted yesterday on Owning Pink. (no need to comment here if you commented there!)
A while back, a conversation Lissa Rankin and I had about being a mom and an entrepreneur struck a chord in both of us and produced her wonderful post on birthing what wants to be born. That post produced a moving discussion about the choices we make about where our amazing, female creative energy goes – into babies, projects, passions and work. As I sat with this and let the words of Pinkie wisdom seep into me, a wondrous thing happened I want to share with you. I felt some of the tangle of my personal confusion on this subject begin to unravel. When I told Lissa and Joy they encouraged me to untangle and reweave in public in the hopes that it might be useful to others. And so here I share some of my tapestry-in-progress with you. Blessings to you in your personal struggles and choices as you release your own amazing creative powers. ~Dana
The need to create
We women are just bursting with the ability, talent and NEED to create. Not just procreate – though that’s obviously a biggie hormonally and otherwise – I mean: CREATE. I wasn’t completely aware of this myself until recently, which is ironic because in addition to co-creating two children, I’ve spent my whole professional career trying to create stuff. This has been frustrating because I wasn’t an artist or a welder or a software developer, I was a marketer. (Marketers don’t make stuff, sadly; we make stuff up.) So, unconscious of the fact I really wanted to create things, I aligned myself with people who did and made a career out of launching new products into the market and advising organizations on how to take advantage of new technology to create new businesses. Somewhere along the line I stopped owning the failure of not being happy in all my jobs and started owning success by realizing I was a creative spirit and that creating stuff fuels me and brings me joy. Seeing it come to fruition in one form or another makes me ecstatic! I loved making kids! I love parenting kids – now teenagers whom I adore. I have – count them – four businesses! And I love them all! It’s all just the creative energy in me visioning something wonderful in the world and then setting my energy to bring it into being.
Lissa and I laughed because of course, she has given birth to one beautiful child and many businesses too – a medical practice, an artist’s body of gorgeous work, two books, and a blossoming creation in Owning Pink she’s inviting us all to co-create with her. But of course, we’ve both created children and sometimes the demands and desires of motherhood and entrepreneurship get a little tangled up and confused.
For myself, this tangle is definitely confusing; and I’m not just talking about the energy management of it here (though that is often beyond confusing!). I mean something deeper. Something so deep that it’s tangled up with roots that go so far down into my spirit and my being I can’t even see where they end. This bonked me on the head when Lissa and I were chatting on IM about this. We were talking about how fun it is to start up a business (and how exhausting) and about the parallels with having a kid. At first we were focused on the similarities:
After a bit we were all confused. Birthing anything new is an act of creation and so in many ways they feel so much alike, is there really no difference? Could you just start a business and never have a kid (or visa versa) and have the same experience? Well, no… there are significant differences too:
They’re one in the same
And then it hit me. In addition to being a mom, I’m also an entrepreneur, a professional risk taker. A serial Pleaper (i.e., Pink Leap of Faither). And in this conversation I’m just now realizing why those two aspects of my identity are SO important and SO related. What I realized today is: My JOB is giving birth and it’s also my LIFE. There’s no separating them out!
So now I realize I’m on the same adventure many of us find ourselves exploring, how to blend my creative energies in my professional, creative and family lives. When I think of it this way, I feel like a success as a creator; and by viewing all these adventures as creative efforts I find I’m having a lot more fun. Because the act of creation assumes a little mystery about what the end result will be and when I think of them as creative efforts I have less attachment to exactly how they come out in the end. I also realize they are creative collaborations with the people in my life – my husband, my kids, my partners, my clients – and where we share creative visions so much more is possible.
So what about you? Where are your lives rich with creative energy? What are your strategies for blending them? How do you infuse creative excitement into facets of your life? How do you manage the creative tensions that inevitably arise?
Love, light, and creation,
Just like we discover our true family once we leave home, we also discover our true home.
A few times, usually in the sticky heat of a Washington summer, I've questioned why I've had to live so long away from the place that gives me such joy be simply being there and breathing the air. I don't feel "punished," because our life in DC is really pretty fantastic, and the seasons are nice, and the schools are good, and my career has thrived. But I have still succumbed to wondering about my wandering so far from “home”.
This weekend I came to San Francisco on a business/pleasure trip and found the answer to what calls me back. And it turned out that it had very little to do with the land at all, and everything to do with my inner landscape and the spiritual journey I've been on. This weekend I spent a few days with the driving forces behind Owning Pink. Lissa Rankin extended her lovely home in Muir Beach to me and invited many others she has found community with. Some were new to me, some had already become old friends in spirit (thank you, Internet!). We came together over food and friendship and began to talk about our dreams – for ourselves, for each other, for the world. We shared what each of us hoped for Owning Pink, what we had to offer it, what it gave us. And in the sharing something amazing began to take shape.
We began to speak of Owning Pink as a business that will serve Divine Purpose and uplift our community as it uplifts us. We spoke of “Pink” as Divine Love and women as the gateway for the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine to walk through into co-creating a more beautiful world. We spoke of helping each other along on our personal journeys, of helping people heal them simply by “seeing” them as the beautiful souls we all are. We all accepted responsibility for our part in making this happen and vowed to support each other in the effort. It was the most unusual business meeting I’ve ever attended and it was also the most important.
I realized as we talked of business and dreams, that others “saw” me and allowed me to “see” them absent cynicism and negativity and all the “why nots”. We gave ourselves permission to imagine our success and see it in what is already taking shape. My spirit lifted as we talked and I saw that we each brought special gifts and perspectives to this conversation as the business issues and the higher goals wove themselves together in our discussion. But the most precious moment was when I saw how my own personal gifts and skills – business knowledge and spiritual awareness – fit into this lovely mosaic of building intention like a hand slips into a soft, supple glove.
My purpose is to tap into the energy of creation to guide people I value into new, exciting territory and to help them discover their own unique talents and opportunities to change their worlds. When I work together with these amazing people, the world will become a better place.