Thursday, March 13, 2014

3/14/14—Making Quiche

The perfect quiche? Getting there. 
One of the things I rarely mention in these posts is that I like to cook. I might only cook once, maybe twice, a week. But I do enjoy it. And since I'm all about the cooking from scratch, I put a lot of thought and planning into it so I'm fully prepared come "go time". 

I'm probably more of a "good cook" than a fabulous or impressive cook. If I have anything to brag about, it's impeccable timing. Everything is ready to serve at the same time. I never gave myself much credit for this until I found out that others have an issue with it. I'm good at multitasking in the kitchen. I get into a zone. 

Anyway, one of the things I like to do is "perfect" dishes. To my own palate, of course. So for, say, six months, most of what I cook will be risotto. Or garlic mashed potatoes. Or brownies. Or chicken marsala. Basically, I cook something over and over again until I'm using the best ingredients, best proportions and best techniques to satisfy my tastebuds. Then I move on to the next thing. 

If you can't tell by the picture I posted, right now it's quiche. Currently I'm just working on the fillings. As it turns out, you can put too much cheese in quiche. That's what I've learned so far. I'd rather eyeball than measure when I cook, which kind of inhibits the perfection process. But really it's all for fun. When I get the nice custardy filling down, I'll start working on perfecting the crusts. Right now I'm ashamed to admit I use a refrigerated Pillsbury crust. 

A month ago. Ugly overcooked crust and too much cheese. 
Cooking the same thing over and over again is not just a Zen process, it also mirrors our spiritual
pursuits—we'll often cook the same issue over and over again until it's cooked right. Sometimes we put in too much cheese. Sometimes we cheat on the crust until we get the filling just right. Sometimes we can't figure out what we did wrong, so we just do whatever. With cooking I'll generally follow a recipe closely the first time and then start improvising. Same with when I'm working through spiritual lessons. I'll try to do it "the right way" (whatever that is) the first time to get a baseline, then I'll tailor to my individual needs. 

When I first made chicken marsala, it was perfect the first time. I didn't have to work hard on that. Some lessons just come to us and some don't. But then again, sometimes you think you're done exploring a recipe and once you get into the groove with it, you find it's still missing something. Then there are the dishes that give us indigestion or are inedible. If I were to keep following that same recipe over and over again thinking it would eventually taste better, I wouldn't be a very effective cook. And then there's the garlic mashed potatoes. I can't honestly claim I ever quite perfected that (though roasted garlic got me the closest to what I wanted). But I doubt anyone else would complain. Sometimes you just have to accept your limitations and let good enough be good enough. 

Outside of "stretch" and "persist", there really aren't any set ingredients—or even a recipe—for spiritual or personal growth. Pushing past your comfort zone (stretching) and continuing to try different ways (persisting) are like the salt and pepper of the spiritual world. They're good in everything. As long as you remain stocked up on those two, pretty much any dish you want to try will be the better for it. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

3/12/14—Gaining Help From Beyond

My boy Kismet was once under the oppressive rule of a rather foreboding alpha dog named Passion. We were all kind of under her rule. Passion was clearly a soul that grudgingly agreed to come down here as a dog in order to teach me how to love unconditionally. And she never let me lose sight of her sacrifice. She spent most of her 10 years of life incredibly bored and trapped inside a slightly broken body. Imagine if you had to come back as a dog. Parts of it would be good, but most of it would bore the crap out of you.

Anyway, knowing this about Passion, I let her choose a companion dog. She chose a terrified and deeply wounded boy that I called Kismet because I kept out of the decision making and trusted the right dog would come to us. Because Passion was big and scary and ridiculously alpha, she was a good match for Kizzie. She could protect him. Also, knowing that Passion was bored and more human than most dogs, I told her we could co-parent.

She was a very strict parent and Kizzie was never allowed to play with toys (bones were OK, but all toys belonged to her.) I would try to buy him toys for Christmas and she would yank them from my hand, never to be seen again. Kizzie didn't seem to mind. After he met Passion and me and was confident he was safe, he became kind of happy-go-lucky...content with pretty much any circumstance as long as he had a full belly and his girls at his side.

All of this is setting up an odd phenomenon that happens around the house. Often over the past few years, I'll glance over at Kizzie on his bed and he'll be surrounded by stuffed toys. Now, I've only ever once seen Kizzie with a toy in his mouth and that was the day we met him. So I don't think he's carrying them into his bed. I suppose it might be logical to assume his sisters deposit them there after play and that's how they get there. I don't pay that close attention, so again, it's not something I've seen. But that's just as well, because there's another explanation I kind of fancy.

Passion, Kizzie's other mother.
See, Kizzie sees dead people. He's got a lot of mystical/healing energy to him. Often when I meditate, he'll come over and sit at my feet and "watch" my body while I'm gone. I have a painting of Passion on my living room wall and I can't tell you how many times I've seen him just sit and stare at that painting, transfixed. Plus, he seems to "see" something sitting on the sofa and won't jump up for a snuggle until I prove it's gone.

I think Passion visits. And I think she is surrounding him in toys!

Sometimes when people die, they'll hang around or come back to help right some of the wrongs they did on earth. It's like a last-chance extra credit move. They get up there and see clearly, for the first time, the error of their ways and they set about righting it as well as they can, assuming they don't want to repeat the lesson again. 

My father did this with me. Years after he died, he helped me buy this house through a series of interactions he had with me. I think he even pulled some strings in the afterlife, because someone else's contract got accepted first. When that happened, I heard him say "10 days" in my ear. Ten days later, that contract fell through and the house was mine. I'll have to tell the whole story one day, because there were so many signs and "coincidences" surrounding the purchase of this house.

He did it to make up for some of the ways he treated me unfairly in life...unfairly in comparison to all my other siblings. None of us "deserved" his help as an adult and all of us got more help than most kids. But there was a pattern of me being given less privilege than my siblings. I never knew why, but suspect it was because I chose something other than marriage or the military for my life. In his eyes, those were the only acceptable options for girls and I had the audacity to make a man's do whatever I pleased with my life. Build a career. Stay single. Have dogs instead of children. 
Mommy's toy boy. 

That said, my life was more privileged than most, so I'm not complaining. Just explaining. I think he got up there and saw the pain it caused me to be treated differently and how hard I worked at building my "alternative" life. So he helped me find the perfect house and made sure I got it, despite the competition. This isn't something I just suspect. It's something I know because the "coincidences" were just too much to be coincidences. 

And so I wonder if Passion is doing the same thing for her Kizzie boy....surrounding him in all the toys he never got to play with when he was young. That's how I like to think of it. I also like to think she helped him find the confidence to be more leaderly once she was gone. And I think she also helped us find Magick Moonbeam to inject a more lighthearted tone into our lives. I think our loved ones who have passed over help us out much more than we'll ever know. 

All this begs the question as to whether you've ever had someone help you from beyond the grave? But it should also make us think about what we might discover about ourselves and the way we treat those we love while we're alive. My father stayed behind a long time to help sort things out before he could move on. While we work at our growth to help us evolve in the next incarnation, we might also consider letting down some of our defenses and walls to leave without regrets and help us move forward more readily in the time between lives. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

3/10/2014—Finding Unconditional Love

Today's post is the first of a series of posts from guest writers. Today's guest writers work under the pen names Sparky and Goddess and they write about love. The first part is written by Goddess and the second part by Sparky. I'm off for my birthday, but will be back with Wednesday's post. :)

the Sparky and Goddess Chronicles

On Unconditional Love
Contributing writers:  Sparky and Goddess


    he spoke gently and with a soft love in his gaze, giving her a raw and honest description of the “other” love, that other connection, his other relationship was bringing him.   ...of how he honored that other relationship and why.  what value that particular stream of love had brought to his life and his personal evolution, even now as they sat talking.  he, sitting in a visible cloud of integrity...authenticity embedded in the sounds of his words.  Sparky and Goddess had spoken long and often about what a truly evolved life could look like, for each of them and for the world.  they’d reflected on the rewards of opening the door to lives of expanded consciousness, letting go of imposed beliefs that were now outdated in the currently emerging paradigm of a conscious state of evolution, on just being, allowing, with fewer limitations.  they had whispered words to each other on what the fruits of genuine authenticity could actually bring to a love relationship.  they had sought a universal perspective on love in their lives individually, and now together.

    and hours later it hit her as she drove along under the new moon that night, feeling a great warmth emanating out from her heart, that in the witnessing of that other stream of love in Sparky’s life, she was actually receiving that love as well—that she was feeling it even in this moment, experiencing it quite profoundly in her own being.  this pure warmth that felt so right, so real, so purposeful to her life and also to life itself. Goddess realized it would be her who would be shutting the door to love in her life if she turned away from Sparky now, because she was about to shut the door on that love——that other love of Sparky’s that was seemingly outside of her life, seemingly threatening somehow to her own connection with this man that she was feeling a profound and elevated love with as well.

    and then at some level, Goddess found a knowing that love is love.

     and whether that other stream of love coming to Sparky was admiration or lust or friendship or even co-dependency didn’t actually matter at all, because what our egos don’t want to face is that every kind of love is valuable in every kind of way with every kind of person as we all evolve along together in this world.  All of it is purposeful in the end. and shutting the door to witnessing that other love would subtly but profoundly shut the door to love in her own life at some point, in some way, even right now.  she wondered why the cultural norm demanded that others deny love in their lives in the first place?  saying no to love, wherever it shows up, is saying no to love.  as Goddess looked into the energy of this situation through her familiar lens of conscious evolution, she felt an emerging clarity that we really are all in this together.

   there is only one of us here...

    and then Goddess understood that she didn’t need to say no to Sparky. she didn’t need to walk away.  she didn’t want to venture further into the smokescreen of a confined and pre-defined future - into the nebulous clouds of old, limited reacting—..and then acting out.  she didn’t want to be stuck eternally in a maze of egoic aggrandizement, careening down a path of narcissism cloaked in the veil of the status quo “true love.”

     she had a transcendental realization that opening the door now to an expanded experience would allow her to embody that feeling too ~ the one that Sparky was offering to give to her, to share with her—.and that she could then give to him, and share with him.   and by letting that in, and allowing it fully, her love with him could be even greater than she had ever imagined because she would not be putting limitations on the breadth and depth and scope of what is possible to feel.   if he can feel that, he can teach her that, and they could share that, and they could have that and grow in that and live that. And she wanted that with him.

     she got that Sparky was growing in his own personal evolution from his experience.  and because of her connection with him of an unspoken, ancient understanding and ease, she could steep in his words and feelings with a true trust that allowed her to feel even more deeply into the authenticity of his experience with the other.  she reveled in the quality of that feeling and her allowing of this frequency for herself opened up new spaces within her.  and Goddess knew that it was because it was him that she was able to process the richness of the learning and the allowing available for her, for them both, here.  she would not choose limitation, she would choose expansion.  she recognized a priceless gift in this new relationship.

    Goddess felt a great swell of love for him and she knew that no matter what, she wanted him to have that experience.  she felt that he deserved it, and she knew that this man of true integrity would hold his precious experience and cherish it and it would become a part of his character moving forward in his life with herself.  she could learn from him about ways that she had never before encountered in her life.  and she could open. and experience. love. in ways that she could not without him. she trusted this aspect of the universe that was available for all who would take themselves to that edge.  she knew that this level of realization was beyond denial, delusion or desperation. she viscerally felt the overpowering freedom of true flow, without resistance, of unconditionality.  unconditional love.  for him.  for herself.  for all.  and she wanted him as well as herself to have that——anywhere, everywhere.

    Goddess understood too, from a lifetime of seeking the universal perspective that if she took the judgement off of love in her own life, took the societal rules off, took off the fear and the ego and the need to protect that which doesn’t need to be protected, that this experience would be stored in that great database in the sky and would then be available for all the others——those who were afraid—those who were stuck in the frozen beliefs of days gone by.

    she got it too, that she was having this experience of realization only because others had had it before her——those who came before her from countless millennia back in time.   their tears shed, their courage mustered, their inspired visions made it possible for her to step into the realms of authentic trust, true acceptance and unconditional love right now, with Sparky.

     so Goddess stepped forward with her face to the sky, feeling gratitude for the capacity of the universe and all it allows us, and all it provides for us to allow in return.

     and then she flung that door wide open—



“They say love conquers all

You can’t start it like a car

You can’t stop it with a gun”

Warren Zevon – Searching For a Heart

Sparky sat down to reflect on the ambiguities around the concept of unconditional love. Such was the ambiguity that seemed to be at the heart of the concern that had arisen from Goddess.  He wondered if it really was about unconditional love or about forming some conditions around the unconditional love within their love relationship?  Either way, he was grateful to have found a direction that pointed towards the rub.  It could now become a portal, a way into beginning the discussion and the processing around this amazing, newly forming relationship.

Sparky knew it to be a trick of the ego, this identifying a “problem”, but then he’d always had to do so before he could really dive into anything new.  Just as he’d had to see a “problem” before accepting the spiritual path.  His experience with life had to feel very unsatisfactory indeed and he had to see it as a problem, for a spiritual path to arise and to be recognized as a way.  Without some form to push against, no imperative would arise from which one could work through— it was all just too perfect without a problem.  Sort of like heaven, he imagined.  Sparky had concluded that, in the world of form, we’ve gotta create a little hell to do much of anything.

First, there was the concept of unconditional love.  He had decided that the very term was a redundancy.  Sparky didn’t think that love was ever burdened by conditions at all.  Conditions are what people place around love, for many reasons but he imagined that protection from hurting and from being hurt were chief among them.  Only love doesn’t hurt people, people hurt people.  Egos place conditions on love and then say, “Wow, this is hard— Love hurts.”  He decided, it’s kinda like blaming your feet for the blisters rubbed by bad-fitting shoes.  Love doesn’t hurt.  It’s not a thing, after all, but a non-thing: a force, more like weather.  Our forms hurt; boundaries bruise, conditions break, containers shatter.  He knew  first hand, that love forms the forms we place around it.  Love shapes with gentle, caressing breezes and also blows a hole like a cyclone bursting through a brick wall.  Sparky smiled at his own failed, tragic-comedic attempts to harness and use love for some purpose he’d felt was important.  Usually he was trying to protect someone, until he realized that protecting always morphed into covering and distorting that which he’d sought to preserve.  He realized that in the inner world of thoughts, feelings and experiences - to consciously offer space is to honor love, and whom you love, the best.    

He remembered some words from Hafiz, who wrote, “I am a hole in the flute through which the Christ moves through— Listen to this music.” Love is like the Christ part in that, he thought.  It creates the music through the space which we allow.  The smaller the hole, the shriller the sound.  Sparky could say he didn’t really know what love was but he’d learned that the greater the space, the better the sound.

He’d learned this too from someone that he’d fallen in love with nearly a year before he’d met Goddess.  She had opened him up to a deeper experience with love, which had truly changed him and also left him wanting more love in his life.  They had a rich, dramatic and fulfilling romance, in which both had expanded, deepened and even evolved.   And though their life circumstances would not permit them to be together as a couple, they had maintained a deep and loving friendship together.   It had been difficult to keep this as a friendship in the wake of their intense romance, but they continued to love and to support one another and to hold each other dear.  And still, the space for love remained in him.

In some way, allowing that space to be as it was, was what had led Sparky to Goddess.  He knew that Goddess too had held space for a greater love relationship in her life.  And, Goddess could feel the love he held for his former lover.  She felt the richness, the depth and the life of it.  And Sparky affirmed it.  So now, as often occurs upon the threshold of real change, of growth and new possibilities – a barrier was flung into their path.  The barrier, it seemed to Sparky, was the love that he still held for his dear friend and that somehow to honor the love that was rushing through he and Goddess, he was needed to limit or deny that love that had awakened him, championed him and brought him to Goddess even now.  But if open, untamed, unconditional love had carried both Sparky and Goddess this far, it didn’t feel appropriate to declare, “That’s enough unconditionality, no more space, no more flow!   Now, I have a better idea—”  He felt that they wouldn’t improve their experience of love by limiting the way for love, or by changing or denying its flow.

And then it hit him, as a parable, through the wise and cautious words, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s—”  Do with yourself for love as love has done unto you.  Learn about love from love, not from other’s expectations or well intended advice.  

And as he sat with this, details of agreements and conditions melted away.  Presence emerged and clarity came with it.  He did not need to stake a position upon which some conditions resided, other than to not cling to conditions at all.  He didn’t have to choose a side, or present and defend one because another way was shown.  An impeccable imperative had emerged from the clearing; offer the space for love unto the love relationship, which will be the container that he and Goddess could create together.  Goddess, as a vessel of love, must feel her way to the music that is right for her.  As would his cherished friend.  As would he.  All could stand in their own power.  No one here needs protecting.  The impeccable imperative showed him the way: resist nothing, cover nothing, allow everything for love.

And so he offered to Goddess, for her too, to seek and to hold herself open to love in all the ways that it may be held and however it may yet come to arise in her.  He realized that is what he had offered his former lover, and she had offered that to him as well.  And that had brought him here.  And with that, he felt such gratitude for allowing love, which is unconditional itself, to flow and to enrich each life it touches; to honor, deepen and change everything we hold, to bless this wondrous and new relationship, to do all that, and more... All that without conditions.