Monday, August 28, 2006

Real Reflection

Real Reflection

That's not my real reflection, she said. I've changed so much since then most people barely recognize me.

~Brian Andreas~

It is a very dark, rainy and windy morning here in Chicago. And the rain is coming down hard at that wonderful sideways angle that guarantees that no matter how you hold your umbrella, you end up soaked. And since I walk to work I experience the full brunt of the weather. But it’s not better if you take a bus or a cab or drive. The rain slows down every bit of traffic, so a cab takes twice as long as a walk. And I don’t really mind, not even the sideways rain.

And I didn’t have my iPod with me, so instead of listening to music I had a chance to think (in between dodging the umbrellas of everyone crowded onto the sidewalk to avoid the drenching splash from buses plowing through puddles).

I was thinking about how I have a very clear vision of myself – who I am, why I’m here, what my life is meant for, and what I have to do to maintain my integrity and self-respect. But that’s all been clouded over for a long time, covered with a film that had a reflective surface. And because it's been wrapped around me, and not hanging flat on some wall, the reflection it mirrored was wavy and bumpy and and constantly moving. So the reflection I got back looked nothing like I expected or understood.

Which is to say, that in looking for this essential aspect of myself, I kept seeing distorted reflections of others. Maybe this is part of being a Libra…maybe we have this component of confusing ourselves with others. What we mirror to others and what they mirror back to us. Of course, all relationships have an element of that, but I have felt it acutely, and for as long as I can remember.

And I have a certain kind of sensitivity to people. I can know what they’re thinking and feeling without trying, which can be a wonderful tool if put to good use, but it also means that I’ve been receptive to sorrow and confusion and fear that resides in others and floats around in the atmosphere. It’s found a home in my mind and heart simply because it could.

But that’s changing. I’ve connected these experiences to very specific people, but mostly they’ve just been triggers for activating this sensitivity. Because in order to avoid being completely overwhelmed, I’ve often ignored what I sense from others. It’s not a good technique – it didn’t keep the sorrow away so much as I just pretended it didn’t exist. And then someone or some memory comes along and makes it impossible to keep pretending.

Stepping away from the game of pretend has been wonderful. I’m in the middle of a very magical point in my life, where illusion is being replaced by an even better reality. So all this stuff I was shielding myself from simply has no room now in my heart or mind or life or relationships. The sensitivity is still there, but the indiscriminate absorption of every bit of other people's sorrow has stopped, or should I say it's been transformed.

I'm not simply a sponge or a mirror anymore; it's not just about absorbing and reflecting, but it's about creating and expressing. Which means that my very clear vision of myself – who I am, why I’m here, what my life is meant for, and what I have to do to maintain my integrity and self-respect – has a home now in the place that all the other stuff was being stored. And it’s a much better fit.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


One of the great gifts of life is that, as long as there is breath, we get a chance to become new. There is no sorrow that is greater than the human ability to heal.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Great Irony

My father’s life was fueled by extremes of every kind, and they eventually caught up with him and did him in. But before coming to such an inglorious end, he was also a father and husband. As a daughter of his, I was the one of whom everyone always said “you’re just like your father.” This was from the time I was very young until he died…”you’re just like your father.” From people who knew us well and people who hardly knew us at all.

And yet, his presence, fueled by these extremes of personality and behavior, was something I grew to hate. The older I got, the more completely I rejected him and any place he might have in my life. The turmoil and suffering he left in his wake was too overwhelming, too complicated, and I too easily absorbed the confusion. Out of some sheer protective mechanism, I squeezed out any space I had for him in my heart.

I’m not saying he didn’t love me, and deeply. Just that at some point, on some level, I realized I couldn’t let in even a little of his energy into my life without it creating awful pain.

He’s been gone for almost 17 years now, and I’m still sorting this through. And I’m wondering what it means to so fundamentally reject someone in who resides a mirror of so much of yourself. What happens when “you’re just like” this person who you find so unacceptable in every way? What is the price of choosing between yourself and the person “you’re just like?”

And what do you do every time you see an impulse, a trait, a tendency, a habit, a quality that maybe isn’t “just like” him, but even a little like him? But you don’t know how it will take a hold in your own life and maybe grow into something horrifying there. It requires numbing amounts of much judging and weighing, accepting and rejecting ~ too much vigilance over the self and others.

This kind of mental and emotional parsing creates an illusion of control, an illusion of safety, an illusion of protection. You can’t neatly tuck away relationships in some small corner of your heart or mind, as if they belong to you alone, even with someone who’s been dead for 17 years. ‘Cause the ghosts that live on, live on in you anyway.

I’ve built all sorts of artificial constructs to support certain ideas I have about my father, our relationship, and who I am, and none of it is fitting very well anymore. And as it changes, it’s changing my relationship with others who also accepted these artificial constructs as reality. So my looking at all this with new eyes is causing quite a lot of turmoil. Which makes me in some ways, quite ironically, just like my father.

It's all part of an old story, handed down to me but that doesn’t belong to me. And I can’t re-write it for anyone else. But I’m re-writing the story for myself, re-thinking the characters, re-framing what I know and what I do with my new understanding. And I’m really enjoying the creative engagement it requires. Finally, a chance to tell this sory my way.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Reality Check

We don't see reality as it is; we see it as we are.

~ Anonymous ~

Wow - I Really Believed This!

Love hurts. Wow - I really believed this for the longest time. The lyrics below are from an old song, which I very much liked, and I thought they were true. That love and pain and need and disappointment were indistinguishable from each other. And there was plenty around me to reinforce that notion, including my own crippled experiences of what love could be.

But the words don't work for me anymore. I'm not lost in the throes of romantic love, looking to have every need of my heart met by another. The love I know these days heals and uplifts and energizes and empowers and brings all kinds of joy and meaning and contentment.

It is without condition, restriction or limits. It requires honesty and communication and regard, and it demands that everyone's dignity be sustained. It enhances respect and esteem, for myself and others, and it just feels good and right and fun. It's an easy laugh, companionable silence, feelings communicated without words, and an open and curious heart.

I still like this song, but I'll never hear it the same way again...

Love Hurts

Love hurts,
love scars,
Love wounds,
and marks,
Any heart,
not tough,
Or strong enough

To take a lot of pain,
Take a lot of pain
Love is like a cloud
Holds a lot of rain
Love hurts,
ooh ooh love hurts

I'm young,
I know,
But even soI know a thing,
or twoI learned,
from youI really learned a lot,

Really learned a lot
Love is like a flame
It burns you when its hot
Love hurts,
ooh ooh love hurts

Some fools think of happiness
Some fools fool themselves
I guess

They're not foolin me
I know it isnt true,
I know it isnt true
Love is just a lie,
Made to make you blue
Love hurts,
ooh,ooh love hurts
Ooh,ooh love hurts....

Choosing Truth Over Convenience

The time between 4-5am is absolutely magical for clear, inspired thinking and conversation with G*d. I know of no other time where my mind is more able to absorb understanding and virtue, and where things needing to leave depart so quickly. And so it was this morning as well.

I was mulling over some confusion, turning it this way and that, trying to see it in a new light. It has pervaded my thoughts, and yet felt so foreign, but I couldn’t shake it. And this morning, while sitting in a quite reverie, an understanding of what this was hit me so hard that I said “Oh my G*d” out loud to myself, startling the cat who expects the usual silence of our early morning meditation. It just suddenly hit me so hard what was going on.

And what has been going on is that certain habits and patterns that I inherited years ago ~ maybe from even before I was born ~ are mindlessly playing themselves out in my life. It’s as if I picked up the script to someone else’s story, and assigned certain roles to myself and others of a very old drama, and I’ve been saying the lines and playing the part, only vaguely aware that this isn’t my story.

But it’s not my story, not even a little. I don’t want to keep breathing life into this tired old story ~ this story of sadness and suspicion and need that I didn’t write, don’t enjoy, and am not well suited to play. It is antithetical to my own nature in every way really, so I’m taking off that costume, putting down the script, and walking off the stage.

This morning all that was startlingly clear suddenly, and now I wonder why it took so long to notice something so obvious. But maybe it had to feel so wrong, so awkward and so uncomfortable before I could be certain that I don’t want this old energy inhabiting my present life.

You ever done that? Awoken to an understanding so suddenly and clearly that it utterly and absolutely alters your perspective, spinning you around 180 degrees? This is happening a lot for me right now, and I love it. I love embracing what is true over what is convenient, what is real over what is easy, what is authentic over what is acceptable.

I wonder how much else is still at work in my life on that level. I suspect not so much, after months now of sorting through what’s been hidden in the basement and the attic of my mind, but it bears watching. Because very soon, my energy and focus will be moving out from this very internal level of concern and toward more creative expression, and I want to make sure whatever’s left truly belongs with me.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Wall

Sometimes, when you’re trying too hard to make something happen, it feels like you’re hitting your head against a wall. My advice? If the wall isn’t going anywhere, at least stop hitting your head.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Stepping Into the River

I have been wearing fear like a shroud, a shawl, a wrap – comforting myself with its cozy familiarity regardless of the discomfort it brought. But it doesn’t fit anymore. It never fit well anyway, but I got so used to the feel that I stopped noticing long ago.

This shadow of fear had wrapped itself tightly around my heart like plastic wrap in what I thought was an extra layer of protection, keeping bad things out and maybe good things in. But really all it did was keep my heart constricted in a place too small for it to beat wholly, for life to run through it, for it to grow. And all the protection I was cherishing was suffocating me bit by bit by bit.

And I finally realized I couldn’t breathe. So with a lot of tedious work and effort, it’s been removed – a lot of unwrapping and then picking away at all the little pieces left behind. But that artificial support it created left an imprint. Like when you take off a ring you wear all the time and you can feel where it used to be. So I’m getting used to the feeling of freedom, of not being constrained by fear and worry, able to see without this haze of constant vigilance clouding my vision.

I’m happy to get used to this new freedom. So much of my freedom has come from me fighting against things and people, standing apart and aside, distancing myself from expectation and need and connectedness, all in the name of freedom. But I don’t think this is the requirement anymore. And loneliness isn’t really freedom – it’s just a kind of isolation.

Freedom for me now is being free to love – to be as loving and generous as feels right, not restricting that for fear of anything. Because this is something that’s very true to who I am, and I have denied that for soooooooo long…just the simple need to love. To be connected and engaged and involved.

In ways I cannot fathom or understand, that has always seemed a shameful thing. But it doesn’t look or feel that way to me anymore. Love feels like the essential river that runs through us all, connecting us and giving us life and joy, and I cannot bear to turn my back on that life-giving force for another second.

I have been parched, watching this river flow by me, never daring to dip in my toe or take a drink. But today, I stepped fully into it, and it has refreshed and enlivened me and brought me back to life. I will not step out of this river again so I hope you will join me there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Master of Vision and Vitality

It is time for real change. Months literally of thinking and feeling my way through so much tucked invisibly away inside, sorting through what to keep, what to discard, what to change. Being alternately horrified and delighted with my discoveries and how I've handled them. Excited at the change. Uncertain about how who I was becoming, and all that confusion spilling over into places I'd prefer to have been simply graceful and composed, but unable to be that for a time.

And now it's time for this change to transcend communication via keyboards and forums, and bring all of this into my life, my heart, and real relationship. It's time for taking all of this and connecting with real people in real ways from what is most real inside of me. And so I shuffle through the deck of cards to see what they might say.

The card for the moment? The Knight of Wands.

"The Knight of Wands is committed to the principle of spiritual growth and evolution. This is the visionary and energetic Knight who is unwilling to edit, rehearse, or hold back any part of who he is. He rides the unicorn horse, a symbol of vision and inspiration that has pruporse and application.

He represents the power of deep internal shifts and perceptions that are being dynamically expressed. This is the Vision Quester who has attained a significant vision and is mobilizing all energy to actualize it. The Knight of Wands holds the torch, the Ace of Wands, in his hand to burn out any blocks or obstacles that might stand in the way of his vision.

He had the ability to shed old beliefs and to honor the changing perception he has of himself and others. He charges forward, eager to share perceptions and insights which can assist deep changes internally and externally."

Reading this, I think it's a good mirror to how I'm feeling. And now it's time for this to be so much more than a feeling.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

(Not) Waiting to Exhale

I've been holding my breath for a long time, keeping so much inside, holding tight to…I have no idea what at this point. But I’m making a really conscious effort to exhale, and with every breath out, there also goes fear and tension and regret and confusion.

I understand why pranayama is such an important part of spiritual discipline for hatha yogis. Prana is breath - the life force sustaining the body; the breath as an external manifestation of the subtle life force. And pranayama is the practice of learning to control breath and breathing, as it relates to the force of life through the body.

Learning to breathe in and out again, especially out, and all the way, carries with it subtle and supple power. I am becoming new with each new breath.

Monday, August 14, 2006


OK – so anyway, I have this really lovely friend who was taking a fairly innocent stroll through the landscape of my life, and accidentally fell into a big hole in my heart. I don’t think either of us knew it was even there, well-camouflaged as it had been by an apparent confidence. But fall he did, making me suddenly and painfully aware of the existence of this hole.

Now my heart has had room for the infinitesimal/infinite space occupied by G*d, and I’ve made cramped but cozy quarters for myself, but room for anyone else has been on a time-share basis. There was room for someone to stop by for a short while, but not for long, and never exclusively. And then suddenly here’s my friend, taking up space as well.

So I’ve alternated between trying to get him out of there altogether, and borrowing space from other things to accommodate his presence. But neither one was the right answer – that I could tell. This is the choice I’ve been making my whole life…staying in the little space in my heart that I’ve carved out, and vigilantly guarding it against intruders.

It’s a sucky choice. It creates some artificial construct that you have to constantly choose between yourself and others. And this is, for me, a subject about which I could write/talk for days. So I’ll save that for another time. But in thinking about this choice I was trying to figure out what I could do wholeheartedly – what could I say “yes” to completely.

And it hit me in the way that very obvious things often do, that I can’t do anything wholeheartedly with a big hole in my heart. It’s an absolute contradiction in terms. There isn’t really a choice between me and someone else, or between accepting and rejecting friendship. In fact, the issue isn’t about choices at all. The issue is about healing…not how do I accommodate or eject this person from my heart, from my life, but how do I heal this hole in my heart?

After this inspiration, all I could think was, “duh.” In that world-weary cynical-teenager kind of way – “duh.” So simple. And it has felt so intense and complicated because I’ve been trying to think my way through a problem that is, in fact, non-existent. I see this at work – people trying to solve problems without understanding the underlying issue at hand, and so their solutions are always ineffective. Get distracted enough by the wrong thing, and you can work your fingers to the bone and never get anywhere.

So I’ve been working on the whole healing process thing, which is another story in itself, but let me just say it helps to work with good people.

What I’m seeing is that when the heart heals, when the gaps and tears and holes are repaired, its natural capacity is restored – literally, whole-heartedness. And the thing with wholeheartedness is that you don’t have to choose between anything. The heart has this amazing capacity to grow and strengthen and expand according to the need. There’s plenty of space for me, complete accommodations for the subtle presence of G*d, and actually plenty of love and room enough for anyone else.

So now I don’t have to worry about anyone falling into the hole in my heart. The repair work is well underway, and while my heart is still a little tender, it is stronger with each passing moment. And very soon this will be one of those things I can’t believe seemed so complicated at the time!

Friday, August 11, 2006


A friend sent me a note about chaos theory, of which I am absolutely not any kind of expert. I think chaos is a direct result of entropy - when natural order is exhasuted over time, the integrity of humanity, which was the thing holding it altogether, falters, and so everything else follows suit. I believe deeply that it is human integrity and dignity that gives order to every other thing, and when it's lost, all else is lost.

To me, the spiritual journey - the great pursuit - is the restoration of that integrity and dignity. When that is restored, human relationships are restored, and humanity's relationship with the planet, nature and matter is also restored. Can't have one without the other. And it's our connection with the Divine that restores us.

So - the three layers/levels, working in coordination - G*d, humanity and nature. And it all hinges on humanity. We have choices to make, and those choices have real consequences. Not just in our own personal sphere, but far-reaching.

The sorrow in the teeming refugee camps in Darfour is the same sorrow as the sorrow of a rich American housewife is the same sorrow as the starving peasants in North Korea is the same sorrow as the widow in Iraq is the same sorrow as the French politician is the same sorrow... Whatever our choices, they impact all of humanity in some way, on some level. There cannot be true happiness when even one of us is still in sorrow.

It's easy to point the finger, but it always points back at me...who am I, how do I live, what choices do I make?

Cycles of Time

Everything is the world moves in cycles. The ancient swastika of India (awfully appropriated by Hitler) is the symbol of the eternal movement forward of time in a never-ending cycle. Reminders of this are everywhere, from the 24-hours in each day, the 12 months in a year, the 4 seasons, and all the ways you see it move in your own life.

So I’ve been thinking about the mathematical precision of cycles. Astronomical cycles like the 28 years of Saturn and the 12 years of Jupiter, and the 18 months of Venus and the one year of the Sun’s movement, and how the cosmology is aligned with us on a human scale.

Look back over your life and see if you don’t notice the cycles of 28 years, marked by increments of change approximately every 7 years. Or the cycles if 12 years, marked by 3 year increments of less dramatic opportunity. When you know about these different cycles, change stops looking like some random force assaulting you from beyond, and is instead an invitation to a better you.

I say all of this because I’ve been noticing these cycles in my own life. I don’t believe these cosmological cycles make change, so much as they reflect the natural movement of the human soul. We need to move forward, and the energy of the world around us reinforces and supports that.

I have a friend who used to ask me if she should just wait out an astrological transit…if something was happening, how long she should sit tight before it would pass. And my answer was always that it’s not happening for you to ignore or wait it through. It’s happening because there’s something inside you needing realignment and change, so embrace the opportunity.

I am in a season of change. So many incremental cycles are overlapping all at once, creating a confluence of transformation that hovers on the verge of overwhelming. But I know the opportunity to re-make myself and my life into a better reflection of who I am exists uniquely at this moment. And I’m not sitting this one out, waiting for it to be over.

It’s not enough to think or to write; some newness must emerge from all of this. I awoke with a start from a life that didn’t quite fit months ago, and I am not going back to sleep, back to numb, back to passive, back to disengaged. This season of change is blowing away everything that doesn’t work, hasn’t worked, won’t work, and making room for…well, all I can see right now is unlimited possibility.

Come ~ Be With Me

There’s a voice inside that’s been demanding expression for some time. And now it seems a bit quieter. Not that it’s gone away, but the expression it requires is a bit more intimate – a bit more personal. Maybe me talking to myself, or maybe just me talking with G*d.

I heard such an overwhelming invitation in my head the other day: “Come be with Me. Come ~ be with Me.” And so I did. I put down everything I was doing, and simply went to be with G*d, to spend time in that company and fill up with all that was being offered.

And I was transported in those few hours. The love and peace and easiness of that time was extraordinary. And it hasn’t left. I keep hearing that same call: “Come – be with Me.” And I feel myself running to answer it, like an important phone call you’ve been waiting for, or a dear friend you’ve been waiting to meet. You don’t want to miss out on a second.

So I find myself rearranging my time and my priorities to make sure I’m available, and I’m carving out space in my life and my mind and mostly my heart for all of this. And it seems to have taken me into a quieter space by external measures, but one that is rich and deep and fascinating.

I feel greatly fortunate with what’s being offered. People seem confused often by the notion of meditation – that it’s some boring thing you do where you somehow empty your mind and sit still without a thought in your head. I couldn’t begin to sustain that for even a second myself.

I don’t know how you do that. But leaving aside my limitations and weaknesses and sorrows, and stepping into an unlimited expanse of joy and love and delight? Engaging my mind in pure thought, divine love, and limitless possibility? This is an offer I simply can’t refuse.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Old Habits...

Old habits are so hard to break. That's why it's critical to put new and better ones in their place, 'cause otherwise it feels like there's nothing left. I imagine creating new habits and leaving old ones behind to be like action movie sequences.

You know that part in the movie where (Superman or Spiderman or The Matrix or whatever other hero movie there is) has to jump from one building to the next? And it's an impossible jump? No ordinary human being can make this kind of leap without getting splattered all over the place? And yet, somehow the hero manages this amazing leap successfully and without injury?

I think moving away from the past, into the present and through to the future feels like that kind of leap. It requires some super-human effort, and then once that's set in motion, you just have to leap into it with absolutely every fiber of your being. And you can't hesitate or slow down even for a second. And that stupid blind faith and the force of your own conviction enables you to make that great leap.

'Cause if you just stay where you are, paring away the old, but not moving into the new, you begin to feel emptier and emptier, bereft even of the comfort of your own pain. So moving forward is non-negotiable, unless you want to slip back into the quiet discomfort of the past ~ into old habits that don't fit you or your life anymore.

It takes a long time to get to the point of leaping, and just a split second to make that move. And it's terrifying and exhilerating and once you're on the other side, you can't believe that you've just become the superhero in the movie of your own life. Impossible to believe, except that you've just done it yourself!

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Keep Moving

Center on Wheels

I spent a long time trying to find my center until I looked closely one night & found it had wheels & moved easily in the slightest breeze, so now I spend less time sitting and more time sailing.

~Brian Andreas~

The joy of letting go trumps the security of holding on. The thrill of re-discovering things you never really knew outweighs the comfort of routine. The fear of confronting uncertainty contains gifts beyond belief. It's amazing what comes alive inside when you choose your life second-by-second, minute-by-minute.

I can see my center shifting right before my eyes, and I'm so relieved. It's been jiggling and shimmying and trembling, but all in one place, and now it's finally starting to move, which is just what I needed. Getting stuck anywhere - even in the middle of one approach to change just gets suffocating to me. I'm so glad to be moving forward or sideways - not really sure which direction, but I'm just glad to be moving again.

Hard Work

Potential Energy

My life had such potential, she told me, before I found out how much work was involved.

~Brian Andreas~

People say stuff all the time like 'no pain, no gain', and 'anything worth having is worth fighting for', but I don't believe any of that. Anything that's ever come into my life worth really keeping has floated in on quiet wings, gliding into the center of my universe without me lifting a finger.

When I encounter things requiring hard work, I either leave them aside or hire them out. I could say I like to work smart instead of hard, but mostly I find there are some details that need attending to, and the rest is about me figuring out how to let go.

If something feels really hard to me, then inevitably I find I'm heading in the wrong direction, and using too much of my own will power to try to force things to move according to my personal desire. "Hard work" is a great indicator that I need to reasses what I'm doing and thinking and get back to a place of inspiration, joy and lightness. No one likes me much when I'm taking things to seriously.

If you find yourself banging your head against a wall repeatedly, then stop banging your head! I appreciate folks who try to change the wall or climb over it or push through it, but I'm a big fan of walking around it. I am NOT the stuff of action movie heros!

And I'd be more concerned that I wasn't demonstrating the requisite virtue for my potential to be unlocked, what with the lack of hard work, but the most amazing things keep happening in my life, so I'm sticking with it for now.

The Insufficiency of Morality

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Stephen Mitchell translation)
Chapter 38

The Master doesn't try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough.

The Master does nothing;
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.

The kind man does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things to be done.

The moral man does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.

When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.

Therefore the Master concern himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality,
and lets all illusions go.

It is this morality that is the shadow of true goodness, masquerading as righteousness. And it is that corrupted morality that has destroyd so many good people. It's that rightousness that pretends to offer salvation with so many conditions and strings attached. It is a rightousness created by scared people, trying to assure themselves that G*d has certain rules and that they alone will be saved by knowing and following them.

G*d's heart is so much bigger than morality and righteous indignation and whatever else we can imagine to hate each other for.

Watching the Ants

Packets of Light

These are little packets of light & you need to plant them early in the year & remember to mark where they were because lots of times they look like weeds in the beginning & it's not until later that you see how beautiful they really are.

~Brian Andreas~

It's easy to miss the good stuff if you don't give it time to grow. Part of the problem with living in such fast-paced times is that you don't get the chance to just sit down and be with yourself, spend time alone with nothing but your thoughts, seeing what's growing and shifting and changing.

There's sound and noise and activity everywhere, and if you remove yourself from that, then everyone wants you to feel bad for not being productive enough. There's not much value in the corporate world for the kind of slow-paced quiet that you really need to keep feeling alive.

I remember when I was a kid. I remember walking home from school and stopping to watch ants. It seemed like I watched them for hours, just moving around in their ant-way, picking up impossibly huge things for ants and carrying them from one place to another. And I drop a stick or a leaf or something in the middle of them to see what they'd do about it, and more than anything I just loved my ant-time...not having to do anything or be anywhere, and I still feel the same way.

I don't stop and watch ants on the sidewalk anymore though, but just letting my mind roam around and stretch its legs and get some fresh air - is still my favorite kind of time. Only now I have to schedule it. I think this is one of the reasons I don't feel lonley hardly ever. I so much enjoy the company of myself when I have a chance to experience it.

The Truth About Kitties

Three Blind Mice

I tried for a whole summer to teach our cat to play the piano. We started with an easy song. It was 3 Blind Mice. My dad said it didn't work because the cat had a tin ear, but I think it was because she kept looking around for the blind mice the whole time & never gave it her full attention.

~Brian Andreas~

First, I love kitties. Second, I love the idea that you can teach a cat anything! Now that's funny!

Stress Reduction

Stress Reducation

I have so much less stress, he said, now that I've given up on ambition.

~Brian Andreas~

Truly, truly, truly. Since the moment I realized that I care most about who I am, and least about outcomes, I have so much more peace. Now I can focus on what really matters - the quality of my character, the nature of my relationships, and what I have to offer to the community of humanity of which I am a charter member.

In every situation, not being concerned about a specific outcome, or thinking I should know what that outcome should be, eliminates the stress of trying to create it, and the stress of trying to convince others that my goal, my vision, my version of the future, is the right one.

And what I have seen, again and again, is that the future has unfolded better than I imagined it. All sorts of things emerge that I wouldn't have thought of, details I left out of my own ambitious notions, subtleties of richness and texture that flesh out reality with so much more beauty than I knew about.

I don't feel I've abaonded ambition so much as opened a way for potential to emerge. An old boss asked me about my 5-year plan. I told her I'd just have to wait and see what G*d and the world needed from me over the next 5 years, 'cause there was no way I could predict that.

Sometimes it's just a great sigh of relief to let the world slide off your shoulders and sink into the truth of who you are. It's in those moments that real possibility - a future and a self greater than any personal amibition - reveals itself to you.

That's why silence and meditation are so good for the soul. Not simply to quiet the mind, but to give the small voice of your perfect potential a chance to be heard...and if you listen well, you're gonna love what you hear.

Lost In Traslation

Lost in the Translation

There are some days when no matter what I say it feels like I'm far away in another country & whoever is doing the translating has had far too much to drink

~Brian Andreas~

Sometimes words seem to be the biggest obstacles to communication. If we could just stop talking/writing/explaining ourselves, and stand together with our hearts shining true, we'd know everything we really need to know.

And we'd have so much good will toward each other and the grace to give others the space to heal and grow and change without demanding that they find a way to accomodate us. And then we'd want to find a way to accomodate each other anyway just because it's a lot more fun to do this together than alone.


Fragile World

It's a very fragile world, she told us, so walk carefully everywhere you go & we promised to remember for as long as we could.

~Brian Andreas~

There's no end to the fragility of the world in which we live, and the delicate state of our own lives and hearts. Just look around here...all of us, working so hard to build a community and keep it in intact. We've got the purest of intentions, the requisite good wishes for each other, and yet surprises keep intruding on the little piece of paradise we thought we'd crafted. The unexpected appears again and again, and maintiaining even this community is a process fraught with complexity and complication.

Our protection - our only protection - is our own virtue. To what degree do I stay true to myself? Not my stubborn vision of how right I am and how wrong another is, but true to my authentic self. The me that knows that everyone deserves respect, and that sometimes walking away is the right thing, and that winning an argument and losing a relationship is a very bad win indeed.

The authentic me that wants to be recognized for the qualities I have, not for the mistakes I make. The me that is willing to do the work to find something worth liking/respecting in everyone, even if it takes extra time and effort. The me that sees the broken heart hiding in all of us and decides not to add to that pain. The me that sees the burden of sorrow we each carry, and decides not to add to the heaviness.

The me that makes a choice to say a word of encouragement instead of needing to punish someone when they've hurt me. The me that knows that when one of us suffers, we all suffer, and the me that knows that when I can love, then I can be loved.

Our hope, our strength, individually and collectively, is always our virtue. Sometimes it comes from inspiration and faith, but it never happens without making a choice ~ it's never an accident. Gentleness has power and strength contained within it to heal broken hearts, lift heavy burdens, mend torn relationships, sweeten even a bitter soul, and reveal beauty in another. It is a choice, and it's always the right one.

Out to Play

Out to Play

No hurt survives for long without our help, she said & then she kissed me & sent me out to play again for the rest of my life.

~Brian Andreas~

Many hidden things have to emerge before they will leave us. They come up from a secret hiding place deep inside, often dank and dreary and filled with long shadows, and it takes so much energy to keep them hidden.

It's a lovely moment when you can tie your secrets to a balloon and let it lift them out of that dark space into the light of understanding and love and acceptance. Without the shadows, secrets are never as scary. And when they float away, it's hard to believe the amount of space they were taking up in the heart, and how much room there is now for everything else.

And it's so wonderful to find out that you're more than a collection of dark secrets and hidden sorrows. That the urge to love and be generous and give from the very best part of yourself is still alive. It had just been squished in the little space that was left in your heart, squished behind and under the secrets, and now it can breathe again. And there's nothing that feels much more right than that.

To come back to yourself - to come home to the place inside you that's filled with the all goodness you hoped you were capable of, untainted by even your own ulterior motives...this is the moment that pure joy begins to move through your life and leaves a trail of healing in its wake. This is the moment you wake up to who you really are. This is the moment that you understand your own beauty and value and worth, and realize that truly you were meant to be here, who you are, as you are.

And forgiveness tumbles out of you, taking with it the last of the dark shadows and fear, and opening up the possibility for a future you haven't even yet imagined.

Hard to Forget

Hard to Forget

I was waiting for such a long time, she said. I thought you forgot. It's hard to forget, I said, when there is such an empty space when you are gone.

~Brian Andreas~

Don't ya just know that space in your own heart, and how much it hurts when something happens to remind you how empty it's been? For me, G*d has filled in that space, healed its torn and bleeding edges, and made me fit for human company again.

For the duration of this lifetime, I cannot hand my heart over to another human, preferring instead the safe haven of G*d's love. I'm waiting 'till I've healed more, when I'm better able to fully love, to engage with other human beings in a way where the sorrow doesn't outweigh the joy - the dissapointment and regret don't outweigh satisfaction. Good thing I believe in reincarnation! It's nice to be certain of second chances (and third and fourth and fifth chances!).