Friday, July 22, 2016

On Healing Ourselves + the World



Chances are - the sensitive soul you are - you're feeling the heaviness of what's going on in the world.

We are in the midst of turbulent times.
Countries are aching.
Families are aching.
Communities are crying out to be seen, to be recognized as equal, to feel free.

As an empath, one of the things that's been a challenge for me is learning how to discern whether what I'm feeling is mine, or someone else's...

I imagine you can relate.

While our collective is in pain, many individuals are finding a mirror between the anguish and disconnect seen in the world and the disconnect felt within themselves.They are excavating the depths of their hearts and recognizing old patterns that no longer serve them.

This isn't easy work. It takes courage, tenacity, and resilience. 

During times of chaos, we can feel more tender, more vulnerable than usual. We can feel the world and our inner heart swinging on a pendulum. It takes practice to come still, find our center, and listen into what is true.

...And the truth is:
We all want to belong.
We all want to feel we matter.
We all want to sense the connection of Oneness.

It takes finding our connection to self, first. This means feeling the depths of our emotions: the not-so-pretty, the drop-you-to-your-knees feelings ... and the elation and ecstasy that comes with being human.

All.Of. It. Without hiding.

Recently, I came to remember an old, personal trauma. Feeling the cracks and crevices of it - really facing it and feeling it - has been one of the most raw and loving things I've ever done for myself.

Being committed to experiencing memory that I've held onto in my body (it does get encoded in our bodies), and unraveling it from the intention of understanding patterns and choices in my life and loving myself from that place, has made for a more graceful healing.

This is the crux of being present.

Imagine how our world and our communities could shift if we started becoming present with ourselves.

Instead of reacting, we stop and feel into our bodies, connecting into what is actually true.

...Imagine if leaders of nations did this.
...Imagine if we each had the courage to feel our humanness - with compassionate love.

We start there.
We start with self-honor.
We start with not abandoning ourselves.
We start with not rejecting, judging, and ridiculing our perceived "weakness" and vulnerabilities.
We start with giving a voice to the unspoken parts of ourselves, silently screaming in plain view.

From there, we can begin to do the same with others. Honor them. Honor the parts we judge in them. The differences. The parts that make us uncomfortable. Maybe we can heal the world this way.

The other day, this poem came through me as I was sitting with all that has transpired in my life and with what's going on globally. It is my hope that it offers you some love and peace.

 Find the center of mourning.
Gently press your palm upon it.
Hear its sharp rhythm,
its slicing moan,
its cry of release -

...even when you feel the scrape of humanity
etching hurt across division lines;
...even when your body reveals
fallow aches,
secrets buried in plain view:

Stay Here.
There's no hiding.

Wrap your gasp of
nauseous recognition,
the cold flood of truth
(chiseled on your bones)
in self-honor.

Then...
Find the center of mourning.
Gently press your palm upon it.
Feel the tenderness of raw presence
bring you home.
©becky cavender, 2016

So much love to you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Getting Angry


There are times we need to call on the forces of anger … anger that rises to inform us of when a line has been crossed, when a boundary has been obliterated, or when we turned our backs on ourselves, forgetting we are powerful beings of beauty.

I’ve had a challenging relationship with anger. Most of my life, I’ve vacillated between either being afraid (sometimes terrified!) of it to judging it as as incredibly base, human, and - well - wrong. I'd reject the bubbling of anger, dismiss it, and tell myself that I could transform that feeling into loving, compassionate forgiveness. Wrapped in the tightly held story of being a Nice Girl, I choose to believe anger wasn't a viable option in my world. Nice Girls don't get angry...

But, the funny thing is, I'm human. (Gasp.) Which means I really did - and do! - feel anger. Oh, I hated admitting that to myself! It angered me that I could feel angry! See what I mean? Ridiculous, right?

It has taken me awhile to come to a place where I can now feel the fire of anger ignite within my body - usually in my throat or belly - and simply acknowledge it. I’m learning it’s the fuel of self-will. Use it to take a firm stand. To say, “no!”

That kind of power is undeniable.

That kind of power supersedes rage and reactive anger.

This anger is proactive. It serves as kindling for self-honor, self-love. It not only penetrates through any kind of bullshit (like a bullshit meter reader), but radiates a shield of respectful self-authority that declares, “Not in my house!”

(Oohh, that feels good to say! I dare you to try it!)

Voices don’t need to be raised. Nothing needs to be thrown. Forget foaming at the mouth (please tell me you don’t do that when you’re mad!).

Simply place your hands in the center of your body and feel the fire burning you like the beating of a drum.

And if that happens to not be the easiest thing in your world, this poem is for you.

(Yes, I wrote it.)

Hisss. 
Bang the drum. 
Take a stand.

Feel the grounded force rise through your veins.

You awaken to the once-desired: now double-crossed; 
a vanquished line washed in sand.
The line you crossed so another could cross:
Closer-further-closer-further…
 the dance of unworthiness.

The sun’s singular, polarized ray 
magnetizes your self-denial 
(the ways you give yourself away).

A smoldering flame ignites on the horizon.
A fire in your heart.
And nostrils flare with the scent of misalignment.

Smell the anger burn through your skin.

You cannot ignore what you want.
You cannot lay down your freedom. 
You cannot play false liberation games.

Hear the call of your inner heart light the sky ablaze.

Hisss. 
Bang the drum.
Take your stand.


Stand your ground. Stand your ground. Stand your ground.

Do you know you're worth it?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Love Song to Essence

{Artist Unknown - sourced from Pinterest}
 
To: All of you who have forgotten who you really are. So much love to you.


Come sit with me.
There.
Across the fire.
Shhh.
Come sit with me.

Let me gaze into you.
Let me breathe you in.
Let me see your flame rising,
engulfing you in the light of Love.

I feel your luminous reflections rippling out to sea.
Like the tide, they return,
beckoning you,
licking the ankles of your soul’s shore:

See me.
See me.
Please...
See me.

It is time to remember.
It is time to fuel the consumption of desire.
It is time to witness the crystal heart of illumination in the center of your chest,
calling you home.

Come home.

Breathe.
Stay with me.
Let the fire between us become us.
Let it burn away the facade: your hiding places, your distant lines.
Shhh.
Come closer.

The embers glow upon your face.
The crackling sparks cascade down your arms,
lighting up the stars, the mysteries, the stories you carry.

Free of illusions, of fear, of holding back:

You are a bright sky of luminescent Love.
You are the golden, open palm
radiating,
radiating,
radiating
a whirling stillness within the sanctity of who you are.

I see:
Your staff of resonant, vibrational love standing within your spine,
a pointed sword of truth, the sharp strength of loving discernment:               I see you:

Vertical Queen,
expansive as an echoed horizon,
spinning your ecstatic magic,
your gifts of words and sound,
of music and laughter,
of touch that heals.
An ancient cosmic light-dance of Love.

I
see
you.

Recognize this power: the flames of your existence, burning you whole.
Your solar rays, electrified in the rhythm of honor.
The drum beats of grace.
The pulsation of bliss.
The liberation of Essence.

You are here now.
You are home.
You are here now.


Come.
Sit with me.
Across this fire,
within this fire,
inside this fire,
becoming this fire.
Shhh.
Come.

©becky cavender, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

All the Little Deaths



I give you an emptiness,
I give you a plentitude,
unwrap them carefully.
- one’s as fragile as the other -  
(Norman MacCaig, Presents)

Patterns of death weave their tapestries through my life. Sometimes the connections are uncanny, tightly knotted:

12 years ago, grandpa died.
Part of me died, too.
Nine years later … so did my marriage.
Same day. Different year.

My grandfather was one of the most important people in my life. As a young girl, I’d interview him, pretending to be a journalist.

Stories of our heritage, including our Irish ancestors, fascinated me from an early age. He'd spend hours telling me where we came from. These were moments we'd spend alone, looking at old photographs, soaking up genealogy.

Through this, I felt connected to my lineage ... so much so that during my teenage years, when alone (I've never told anyone this before!), I’d play “Oh, Danny Boy” on the piano and cry, dreading grandpa's inevitable death, intensely feeling it within my bones; it was almost like a practice run ... a way to prepare for when he did die, so it wouldn't hurt quite as much.

Even though he wouldn’t die for many more years, the raw thought of being without the person who loved and accepted me unconditionally, unraveled the few places in my heart where I felt worthy, important, and valued, leaving me with an impending sense of self-doubt and vacancy.

As an adult, when he was dying from Parkinson’s, the ritual of interview was repeated so I could collect our history, his history. Sometimes he’d raise an eyebrow, whisper, smile coyly, and ask if grandma was out in the garden so he could speak freely...

Then he'd tell secrets.

On St. Patrick’s Day, he died.

...And the knot tightened.

I was living in Ethiopia at the time and had just attended the expat community’s annual formal - yet riotous - St. Patty’s Day Ball at a swanky hotel. One of my most beloved memories was sitting amongst Irish friends, early into the morning, as they sang harmonious folk songs. Bittersweet melancholic tunes echoed through the somber rooms, saturating us with the timbre of another life, another home. Perhaps grandpa was there, too, watching on the sidelines, being sung out ... I think he would've liked that.

Grandpa loved my husband - an Englishman who spent a few years with the British Army in Northern Ireland.

...And the knot tightened.

And it was on St. Patrick’s Day, three years ago while we were living in Myanmar - and I was remembering grandpa, feeling the loss of him - that my husband said he wanted a divorce, that he wasn’t happy, that he could not give me what I needed, that he needed complete freedom, and was not living the truth of who he was.

It was too easy not to slip into feeling incredibly betrayed, like a victim. Especially on that day.

 ...And the knot tightened again.

I felt emptiness, a lack of worth … to the point that I willingly - greedily - grasped for crumbs: Just tell me you love me, sometimes. That’s enough, I exclaimed. Ask me how my day went. Occasionally tell me l'm beautiful. Hold me. That's all I ask, that's all I need - and I can stay!

Writing that now hurts my heart. My belly aches. My throat tightens. Tears well up for that girl, that woman who prided herself on how "low-maintenance" she was.

I flew that flag like it was a positive trait, a winning factor, something so rare that he'd be stupid to discard it. This is how I puffed myself up, compared myself to other women: Who else could be as accommodating and non-demanding? No one! Who else would be so independent and non-needy.

Within my heart, I knew this was all a lie, some elaborate story I sold myself so that I wouldn't get hurt. If my emotional needs were low, then I wouldn't be disappointed. Or rejected. Or reminded of the dark crevices where I pocket feelings of inadequacy, of not being enough, of not being lovable.

Play it safe, don't have needs, and then I can be invulnerable to feeling these parts of myself that need a bit of love. The parts my grandpa filled up. These parts - in truth - that I still ache for someone else to fill up. These parts that I don't fill up ... or fill up in ways that do not lovingly sustain me.

Of course, this didn't work. Of course, I actually have needs. (Gasp.)

And so, after X amount of time of them not being met - because I didn't ask for it, because I said I didn't need it, because I created and attracted relationships with others that were unavailable to give - then I'd take a deep breath and do the unthinkable for me: cry out for what I need and withdraw my love, close down my heart when it was not given ... even though I set it up like that.

 ...And the knot tightened. Another little death. Another excuse to not stay radically open-hearted.

But here's the thing. Challenges in our lives can bring us back to life. Resuscitate us. Jolt us to face the sword of truth staring straight at us. Force us to look at the lies we tell ourselves and how we create victim-y type situations without even realizing it, playing out old tales that we've tightly woven for years.

I still do it. We all do. We're human. And, yet, we have the ability to - even when facing death - feel the stillness of our hearts resonating truth, wide as a horizon. In those moments, it is as if a hand rests upon our cheeks and says, “Shhh. All is well. It’s time to start listening. It’s time to be who you are. Open to the possibilities." 

So, on this Irish feast day, I honor all the ways we experience death in our lives: the death of loved ones, marriages, careers, friendships, romantic relationships, ideologies.

It is through these endings that the foundations for new intersections and weaving knots of stories can take form. Through death, we begin … again and again and again.  

Through the stillness of death, all things are possible.

And this I hear:
 
Lie down.

Surrender to my desire.
You are here to listen.
You are here to write a new story.
You are here to be my reed:
Hollow, tender, attuned.
Play me.
Sing me.
Dance me.
Write me.
Be me.

Come,
Lie down.

Come,
Surrender.

 
May you surrender to all that needs to be let go of at this time in your life. May you face each loss, death, and challenge as a gift so that you make space to create that which you truly desire.

...Do you know what that is?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

On My Birthday

In less than an hour it will be my birthday. My 42nd time around the sun.

Before the day gently folds into the next, I’m finding a tender moment of reflection.

...I’m listening to what my heart wants from me this year: A bit more grace. A little more kindness. Space to breathe between the lightning bolts of intensity. Burning all the ways I hide in plain view. Allowing for the ecstasy of life to surge through me while honoring the times I need the sanctity of a quiet hush.

This year, as a dear friend said: it’s time to become comfortable being uncomfortable, to accept the parts of me that are paradoxical ... and trust me: there are quite a few of them.

I have judged myself - often harshly - for being traditional and untethered; wild, yet rooted; distant and then present; lovingly open and withdrawn; generous yet self-absorbed; unattached to outcome, fully surrendered to the moment (or a relationship) and occasionally completely attached, full of expectations.

But ... Life wants us to love ourselves regardless. Even the messy, complex, unsavory, shadowy, human parts.

So this year, I will attempt to gracefully accept who I am right now. Imperfections and all.

Maybe it's not our "Divine" and "Light" parts of ourselves that make us luminous and radiant ... perhaps its the raw edge of our humanness, embraced with love.

Here's to your imperfect beauty, your perfectly imperfect human-ness.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve Love Letter



Dearest You,

...Yes, you. 

In two hours, the doors will gently close on this year, allowing the space for the next to ease in.

I don't need fireworks or the pop of fizzing champagne tonight. My year doesn’t need to go out with a “bang.”

It wants to burn low to the ashes and dissolve into the crystal snow outside my window.

It wants to be a gracious host and sweetly dim the lights, letting me know it’s time to leave. It feels the story is over; it’s time for the next one to begin.

I want this next year to gently arrive like the tender elegance of fingertips tracing my palm.

I want it to feel like a graceful sway of Love beckoning me closer ... alluring, enchanting.

I want to be seduced by the new year, then held in a cherished, spacious embrace.

Let's slip into a sense of adoration.

Let's see the divine beauty in stillness.

Let's feel the stars kiss our hair.

Dearest you ... I want to see how you write this next year of your life.

What will your chapters hold? Which lines of poetry will you sing?

How will you love?

May you be filled with an abundance of what you desire.

May you light the inner fire of your spirit.

May you be who you truly are.

...until next year...

Friday, October 30, 2015

This is Not Your Average Break-Up Letter


Dearest You,

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked. Really talked.

I wish we could sit in that café where we shared a loveseat; I rested my head upon your wide shoulders and you slowly inhaled the scent of my hair, kissing the top of my head.

Or we could meet in my car where I’d feel your strong hands wrapped in mine, your lips pressed against them.

If we were in your bed, I’d savor one last time the weight of your thick legs curled around mine, nose buried in my neck, chills cascading down my back.

Mostly, I wish we were on my sofa – where you said you loved me – so we could breathe in this moment of truth.

I’d look into your unsteady eyes, hoping you’d see my heart.

But you are in another state.
Across town.
On a business trip.
Picking out furniture with your new girlfriend.
Planting seeds to harvest with other women.
Fishing.
Holding her.
In a bar at 2 a.m., asking to come over.

****

You know I write to process, to navigate the unknown and become clear.

It’s how I face myself.
It’s how I face the truth.
It’s how I’m facing you.

My words are all I have to give you.

***

It seems only fair to let you know that the stories I’ve written in my life are changing.
The plot.
The patterns.
The characters.

You.

Stepping back, I see the similarities.

In each of you, I see the intricate ways you intersect in my heart with common themes of inconsistency, unavailability, and dishonesty all woven together with patches of vibrant beauty and moments of tender sincerity. None of it black and white.

It’s an artful, literary display of lessons spread across faces, across years.

Each of you etched upon my skin a powerful, repetitive myth.

One I am done with.

***

My whole being aches for a new story.

It is time to feel the steady pulse of my worth.

I am ready to consciously dream new patterns into creation.

I will weave words of golden flowers along my spine.

I will spin all your patchwork lessons into a delicate crown and place it upon my head.

In this story, I choose nothing less than love.

In this story, I choose me.

***

If you’re brave, come sit with me.

Feel my warm palms against your cheeks.

Hear me say that I love your wild, red flamed spirit; your blue throated wisdom; your radiant sun of a soul. This is how I saw you: the real you, your true essence.

Now, too, I see the tempered version of this you choose to be … and the dulled version I chose to be with you.

Feel my hands slowly leave your face.

Be well. Be happy. I wish for you all that you need.

...It’s time for me to go.

I have a new story to write.