All posts by goodcommon

I am a Certified Youth Yoga Instructor as well as a Certified Reiki Energy Therapy Practitioner. I received my B.A. in Psychology at LIU - Brooklyn Campus and my Master of Social Work Degree at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Gratitude, Under the Snow

Igloo

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Under the Snow.”

I have been trying to keep up with daily gratitude practices for a few years now,  I go through stretches of time where I do them every day as well as stretches where I’m just “too busy” to even think of it.  If I were trapped under the snow I think this would be the first thing to come up for me.  I would think of all the things I’m grateful for and let the warmth of those blessings lead me into dreams of escaping this awful freezing fate.  I know I would also think in particular of my loved ones, sending them messages of hope and peace, acknowledging how hurtful it would be for them to lose me from the physical plane.  And I would think of all the things i hadn’t done yet, all of the goals that I needed to survive in order to achieve, the fears I needed to face, and the living connections I needed to make.

Having lived for nearly three decades with one foot in the vast darkness of the spiritual plane, this would not be my first close encounter with the very realness of death as we know it.  With that in mind, I think I would actually be rather accepting of the idea that “this may be my time” and I imagine myself finding a dreamy medium of equanimity.  Surrendering my whole self, and not just to death, but to the moment of the unknown in it’s entirety – to accept that I may live and I may die and that either way I know I would be where I belong.

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Pomegranate Heart

pom

My heart is broken open
But less like an egg uncooked
And more like a ripened pomegranate.

I love the way we share in it.
While I pick seeds out one by one
You dive right in to devour me.
Here am I, plucking, like petals from a daisy
He loves me.
He loves me not.
He loves me.
All the while watching u as u dig deep, only stopping sometimes to gaze back up at me.

Where am I in all of this, I wonder.
Where are we?
Sharing in our thirst for knowledge
Our call to creativity.

Your hands curl around my curves and corners
Swerving me this way and that
My eyes meet yours mid-movement and my whole being gets knocked back.

Back in time, back inside, into the depths of space and time
Where nothing exists like u and I but only us together.

Like cool cold walks on snowy roads
Or frozen hands holding inside temporary pocket homes.
Waters breaking waves crashing over stones but nothing -but silence and quiet moans- between Tibetan singing bowl tones.

I am forever heart shaped into you
Like cold fresh ice cream as it curls into a warm spoon.
Your eyes melt mine like the sun shines on icicles and makes dew

Like a bucket of delicious bites, I am 111 sweet and sour grapes
Just bursting from the vine for you

I feel for you
I want for you
I wait for you

Dominique: My Best Friend, My Spiritual Teacher

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Seven years ago, I lost my best friend to suicide.  Ever since then she has been close to me in a way that she almost never could be while we were in this life together.

We met when we were eight years old and at  that point we became inseparable, we were intertwined in a way that only small children with big hearts really can be.  As we grew older though, her depression forced me out of her life and my own internal struggles only furthered the cause.  We stayed in touch over the years through high school and beyond but it seemed as though our souls could not bear to let each other get close enough again to feel our pain as one.  If only our hearts had been stronger, we may have seen each other through and beyond what once seemed like an extremely bitter end.

But when she died, I did not blame her.  I mourned her loss with friends and family but mostly I avoided my grief as much as possible because I knew and I thanked God for allowing her suffering to end.  Even if it did make my own burden just that much heavier to bear.  For even in the worst of my own wars against myself, I knew that I could never choose the road that she had taken.  I knew that one of us had to survive the entanglement of life and I knew that her spirit was there to guide me.

At times I still cry because I recognize that she died so that I could live and I cry because I feel privileged to do so in her honor.  For years she came to me through nature with signs and symbols, most especially in the days just after she had passed…

The day after the news had broken, I met with a mutual friend of ours by a lake to reminisce a bit and sit in our grief together.  It was a beautifully still and clear spring day and we were perched on a boulder by the shoreline beneath the new life of greening trees.  We talked for an hour at least before his voice broke steadiness and he said,
“I was so in love with her for so long, I just wish that she could know that.”
And before he had barely finished his sentence, the words spilled out from my mouth without my choice, “She does.”
And right in time with that a thick warm breeze washed over both of us and I felt her fingers comb through my hair and down my back as a shower of leaves floated down on top of us –as if in that moment it were somehow fall instead of spring.

A day or two later I visited her mother’s house and we sat in the day room upstairs.  It was evening now and the clouds were gathering for a storm but we attempted to keep things light.  We talked about the good times, the fun and laughter we all shared, but the longing was building there inside us.  Soon her mother became upset and the wind began to bust in through the open windows.  As she started to weep  I could feel Dominique’s frustration welling up inside me.
“I’m dancing up here! I’m dancing!” she yelled inside my mind, and the thunder began to roll outside like footsteps stomping on the rooftop.  I knew in that moment that she wanted us to continue celebrating her life rather than mourn it but I’m not sure that I felt it fair to say so to a mother who had just lost her first-born child.
As my own tears now joined hers on the cushions of the couch, the sky grew dark and the thunder continued to clap.  We sobbed and hugged each other tightly as lightning struck and the wind blew rain in through the window; Dominique’s final flare of regret, as she tried so desperately to share in the our sorrow for what had happened.  “I’m here.”  She whispered, “I’ll always be here.”
And,
“She’s here.”  I said aloud, “She’ll always be here.”

After that night she helped me to write her own eulogy which I would later read at her funeral in church.  And when her mother sought my counsel for the treatment of her remains, I froze, but Dominique answered immediately and with certainty.

I can not begin to count the number of questions that she has helped me to answer since then.

 

Years later, when I began attending the Spiritualist Church of New York City, one of the most important messages I received came straight from her.

“There is a beautiful, young, full-figured woman standing behind you with long curly dark hair.   She is wearing colored sunglasses, and a very fashionable dress. (Dominique indeed)  She says that she was not at all a religious person while she was living but her perspective has changed much since then.  She fully approves of all of the work you’ve been doing to enhance your spirituality over the years and she wants to thank you for including her in that process…I’m sorry, hold on…She is crying now and it is difficult to make our her words…She is asking you to pass on a message to the rest of her friends and family.  She wants you to tell them that she loves them very much and she is always watching over what they do and that she is SO proud of how far they have come over the past few years.”

Being that I had not told anyone that I had started attending a Spiritualist Church nor that I had been tormented by spirit all of my life and was only just now learning how to protect myself and to explore my abilities as a gift; it was extremely frightening and impossible for me to imagine a situation in which I would feel comfortable with sharing this message with anyone, much less the people who had lost her.
I worried over this for about a week before I somehow found myself registering for a Somatic Therapy training retreat at a spiritual center in the Berkshire Mountains.  And while I was there for a completely unrelated training program, Dominique connected me with a spirit person named Michael who was desperately trying to communicate with his daughter, a stranger but a fellow student in my class.

Michael began to harass me in the same way that most spirits always have, by invading my mind with thoughts and impulses that were quite clearly not my own.  Dominique then reminded me of the tools I had learned for protecting myself as well as how to open myself to channeling  if I should choose to do so, and I did, I very carefully began to let it flow.  I approached Michael’s daughter after hours of pacing and rumination, and much to my surprise, she was extremely receptive of the message which I was relaying to her and she knew exactly who it was coming from as well.

So not only did I experience an intense actualization to my own authentic empowerment, but I also reconnected this complete stranger with her father in a way that she believed was of the utmost urgency for the healing of her soul.  In addition to that, this young woman and I became very fast friends after that and I do not doubt that I will know her for the rest of my life now and beyond.

Having received such a manifold gift from Dominique’s guidance, as well as from Michael and his amazing daughter, I knew that I had to pay it forward by relaying Dominique’s original message to her mother and also the world at large.  And so I did and still I do.

Because the truth is, our loved ones are not ever truly lost unless we actively choose to let them go.  And often, even then, they are right there beside us in total support of our desire or need to do so.

Body as Home

I recently was having a conversation about the way we perceive and treat our bodies.  For many of us, perhaps especially as women, our concept of self seems to change over time along with our changing bodies.  While many women struggle with this from a very early age, some of us who have never really been overly self-conscious before will suddenly start to feel like we are running out of time to get ourselves “into shape”.  After we have children our bodies change, sometimes drastically, and there is some forgiveness there and yet there is still this need to get back “into shape.”

It seems as though the best attitude we can have in this process is really to get healthy, rather than to look better.  Because the reality is that we will probably never be completely satisfied with the way we look as long as we are focusing so much on trying to look better.  It seems as though our focus really ought to be on trying to feel better in our own bodies rather than comparing them to other people’s bodies or the bodies that we no longer have.  The truth is that when we feel good we look good,  and there are many women who prove this every day.  There are plenty of women out there who are not skinny-as-a-rail and yet are considered GORGEOUS as well as there are many women who are insanely thin but are very unattractive because you can see on their face that they are unhappy inside.  (This is OF COURSE a generalization and not all skinny women are unhappy while not all plus-size women are thrilled with themselves!  But its something to be aware of when we judge ourselves or others based on appearance.)

I think that Marilyn Monroe is a great example for this though, she was insanely confident and it showed in her smiles and her body language.  She was always present in her body and happy with herself even though she wasn’t the skinniest thing on two legs.  She was soft and feminine and she was okay with that.  Look at this picture and tell me that she’s not gorgeous!  And then tell me this, if it were a picture of you, how concerned would you be about that fold in the belly?

marilyn monroe1

 

I mentioned to my friend, who had moved around a lot ever since she was a child, that maybe her body could be her “home.”  Maybe if we treated our bodies like the palace in which we want to play all day long and rest peacefully in at night, then we would make better choices for ourselves and feel better about the inner-space we were creating.  I like this idea a lot and so does she, along with a few other people that she has shared it with, which is great.

It’s definitely a concept I want to return to, to think about how bathing and grooming can be like cleaning our house, making beds, putting everything back in order.  I guess that makes cardiovascular exercises into DIY home renovations and surgery is like restorative reconstruction projects.  So then Yoga, Meditation, and Energy Healing is like rearranging the furniture to fit in with Feng Shui-type principles.  And choosing/preparing/eating food mindfully is like making home cooked meals that nourish the whole family.    When we dance or skip or have a real good belly laugh, its like a party inside us, and when we cry its like we’re inspecting the house and acknowledging the parts of it that need more care and attention.

wintry poem

the world is strange
odd
and new
at every turn

my finger tips
my toes
my eyes
all of them burn

we say goodbyes
and hold
our own
these merry wishes

we hug the warmth
and breathe
my heart
it turns and twitches

the winter bites
and stars are scattered
across our plates

we use our boots
we mend our coats
the spring she waits

If God is willing and the creek don’t rise

Heading away from this darkness and into the deep.   The sharks loiter and sniff, feeling for the end of the rope.  Grape fruit sodas and lumpy lips.  The crisp blue scent of the egoist.  Tears of glory and a frozen cap, my subtle stream is coming back.  Help me find the strength to carry on.

The slow smooth drawl of our taxi man was like warm hands across my ears.  He went on about the night life and the food, but all I could hear was, “Welcome, darlin’.  Welcome.”

We grabbed a bunch of pitch forks and moved on toward the pile.  I was still being tormented by the spirits that had been there since the beginning of the day before, but I still did not acknowledge them at this point.  I was feeling too many things at once and I didn’t know well enough what was my own.  There was this pit in my heart that I couldn’t quite place.  My mind is still quaking in its wake, I’m still grasping at straws for my own identity.

I put everything I had into that pile, every last ounce of anger rage and sadness as well as joy and pride and strength.  I drew energies in from the surrounding ether, I let them flood through me and back into the earth.  I could feel the warm sun shining in on me but the cool winter’s final whispers kept me from feeling the burn.

All of the souls that I was reaching were no longer in the distant past or even in the graves or other bodies, they all came directly through me as i desperately struggled to re-integrate.  This is something that I work on constantly, I am in endless transition among all the many selves that exist within the over-all.  I pitched and forked and over hauled and I myself was lost when it was done.

Beginning Dream Sequence

When I go to dreams I leave this world.  I find a safer space and time.  A place where shapes shift and eyes slip all along my states of mind.  In this world there is no guilt, no shame, no recompense.   I just see and hear and taste, smell, touch, and try to make some sense.  My intuition is much stronger there, my thoughts are crystal clear.  And I can fly and float and twirl, there is nothing that I fear.