"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How Montana Became Nepal

So you know how, all year, I've been talking about moving west, to the big mountains?  Well friends, it looks like I may end up moving so far west that I'm east - and the mountains are as big as they come.

I've applied for a fellowship at a school in Nepal!

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling blocked in terms of where to move out west.  It was becoming apparent that Oldman would probably go his own way, and I would be left to decide what I wanted to do.  Montana?  New Mexico?  Colorado?  California?  I didn't want to move somewhere to just to move for the sake of moving and because I've told everyone I'm going to move.  I want to move because I'm inspired to; because I feel like I'm headed somewhere meaningful.

And just when I was feeling defeated and like I would never figure out what to do, I got an email from a co-teacher that said, "Hey Melanie - I don't know if you know what you're doing yet when you leave, but I just saw this great opportunity from a friend of mine who opened a school in Nepal.  Thought it might be perfect for you."  And she sent me this link: http://blinknow.org/kopila-fellows/

I opened it immediately and read voraciously through all of the information on the site.  My heart began to race, and I couldn't keep a smile off of my face.  I wanted to jump up out of my office chair and shout, "THIS IS IT!"

View from the school (www.blinknow.org)

The opportunity I've applied for is to be a "Wellness Fellow" at the Kopila Valley Children's School in Nepal.  As a Wellness Fellow, I would help to integrate things like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and perhaps some organic gardening into the existing program there.  HOW MUCH MORE PERFECT FOR ME DOES IT GET - RIGHT??  Every time I tell someone, their jaw drops and they say something like, "Wow.  It's like they created that for you!"

It was a Friday afternoon when my co-teacher sent this email to me.  Before leaving school that day, I went down to her room to ask for more of what she knows about this place.  That night, I couldn't sleep from thinking about it.  That weekend, I dropped my plans and spent six hours filling out a five-page essay application, dusting off my resume, and securing references.  I sent everything in by the following Monday.

The faces of these girls has been burned into my mind.
I look at their picture often and send a little prayer for them.

This is not just any school, mind you.  The story is so inspirational it will knock you over.  This young woman whom my co-teacher went to high school with, Maggie Doyne, decided to take a gap year and travel the world before going to college.  One of the places she visited was Nepal.  She was overwhelmed by the sight of so many children without their basic needs being met, so she called home to New Jersey and asked her parents to send her all of her babysitting money.  That, plus other money she raised from friends and family, was enough to enable her to buy a plot of land and open an orphanage.  At age 18.

Today, the orphanage has 40 children as residents.  The school that they built (with their own hands, using local bamboo) opened just three years ago, and now has over 300 students.

Holy cow.  (No Hindu pun intended.)

A shot from the playground (www.blinknow.org)

I want this fellowship so badly.  I want to be a part of that school.  The Buddhist part of me is saying, Don't get attached to the outcome, Melanie.  But the create-what-you-want-from-the-universe part of me is saying, Live in gratitude like you already have it.  Call it to yourself.

I don't find out whether I'm even a finalist until the middle of July, and the position doesn't start until October.  So this is a huge reason why I haven't made any other plans.  I want to remain available in case this comes through.

I also haven't moved forward with designing my final thesis project for grad school, even though credit-wise, I'm ready, because I'm hoping I can tailor it to my work with Kopila Valley School.  I want my project to be designing a wellness program for the school.

I may still head west for the summer while I wait it out.  Have some outdoor adventures, meet up with some old friends, make some new ones, do some writing, rest from the last eight years of teaching - ya know.

In the meantime, any prayers, light energy, and unicorn rain dances you can send my way for this fellowship would be appreciated.  More importantly, send all those prayers and wishes to the people who are already working so hard to make Kopila Valley the thriving, inspiring place it is today.  Perhaps I will have the honor of joining them.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

"Solo or Duo?" or "How Nothing Ever Works Out the Way I Think it Will"

Disclaimer: This is one of those still-figuring-things-out posts where I process through writing.  If you're one of my readers who likes the more neatly-packaged, I've-reached-an-epiphany-and-will-now-inspire-you-with-it posts, skip this one.

(My personal opinion is that getting a window right smack into the middle of someone else's process, before it has been polished, is a much greater lesson.  Hence why I lay myself bare so often in these posts.  It's for you, dear readers.  I bleed for you.)

Ok enough silliness. Still there?  Good.  Let's get started.

A happy picture of me to counteract the slight confusion and sadness of the rest of this post.

As you read in my last post, I'm having a bit of trouble deciding what exactly to do with myself when I leave Maryland in two weeks.  And I think a lot of it has to do with feeling torn about whether to move forward alone or with Oldman.  Sigh.  This is why I didn't want to fall in love before leaving.  Love complicates everything.  (And by complicates everything, I mean makes everything wonderful.  And maddeningly difficult.  And wonderful.)

A brief timeline, if you will:

  1. July/August, 2011: I go on a road trip out west, mostly by myself.  I decide on this trip that I want to live out there permanently, and that this will be my last school year in Maryland.
  2. September, 2011: I return from my trip, begin telling everyone that I am leaving, and begin making plans to do so at the end of this school year.  Alone.
  3. October, 2011: I say to the universe, "Universe, this is not the time for a man.  I want to be single for awhile.  No falling in love.  Do you hear me?  Universe!"  The universe must have been taking a nap.  Sigh.  She's so lazy sometimes.
  4. November, 2011: I meet Oldman at my climbing gym.  We climb together and hang out a bit, but I think it's safe because he's supposed to be leaving this month to move west himself.  No chance of falling in love here.  Plus, he's Asian, and I've never dated an Asian dude.
  5. December, 2011: I fall in love with Oldman.  He stays on the east coast to be with me, and asks me to move in with him.  Oops.
  6. January-April, 2012:  I live with Oldman.  We have lots of great times, and a few to-be-expected not-so-great times.  We begin planning our joint venture west.  Slowly I allow my solo plans to slip through my fingers, thinking, This will be better with someone else.  This will be a new kind of adventure for me.  I finally met someone who wants the same kind of life as me.  This is worth compromising on some of my original ideas.  We'll build something beautiful together.
  7. May, 2012:  Oldman decides that he doesn't want the same kind of things that I want, or that he doesn't want to be in a relationship, or that he doesn't want to be in a relationship with me - I'm not really sure which.  He quits his job and moves to Louisiana with his parents.  He leaves me here in his apartment, alone, for the rest of my time in Maryland.  It feels like it's over.
  8. Except that we still talk.  Every day.  And I still love him.

So now something that seemed exhilarating and completely feasible a year ago (moving west by myself) all of a sudden seems daunting and scary.  I had allowed myself to get excited about Oldman and I traveling around, living out of his truck, climbing, rappelling, backpacking, meeting people, and figuring out together where to settle for a bit.  Now that's no longer an option, and I'm sort of stuck on obsessing about that, and I can't move forward alone.

I'm good at traveling alone.  It's how I've always done it.  I know I can do it again.  But I don't know if I want to.  At some point, it'd be cool to like, be in a relationship that lasts, or something crazy like that.

The practicalities are that Oldman is in Louisiana, and plans to stay there for an undetermined amount of time, living rent free, and saving up some money for his own venture west.  I don't want to live in Louisiana for any amount of time, even if it's to see him.  I'm financially and circumstantially ready to go NOW, and I don't want to wait any longer.  Plus Louisiana's all flat and hot and muggy and buggy and flat.  (Yes I know I said "flat" twice.  It's an important point.)

So I will probably go by myself.  Where?  I don't know yet.  Probably Montana to start, because I left a huge chunk of my heart there last summer, and it's been calling to me ever since.  But that's only until I hear about the fellowship I applied for in Nepal. . .

And that's for another post.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.  Now I'm off to leave this over-thinking behind and go to a pool party/BBQ/wedding reception with the fam in PA.  Just what I need. :)

P.S. How come I have hundreds of blog page views a week, and dozens of people telling me how much they enjoy my blog via Facebook, email, and in person, but only 13 followers?  How am I supposed to become a famous writer and convince places to hire me to freelance with only 13 followers?  What gives, y'all?  Join my blog!  (Pretty please?)

P.P.S.  You do that by clicking the little blue button on the right that says "Join This Site."  All it means is that you'll be listed as a follower, and my new posts will appear on your blogger page, if you even have one or know what I mean by that.  If not, then don't worry about it - just follow me!  K, thanks.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Plans To Go Everywhere

You know that 80's movie called Man in the Moon with Reese Witherspoon?  It was like her first movie, about two sisters growing up in the country and falling in love with the same farm boy, when then dies in a tragic tractor accident?  Well you know how they sleep on the screened porch as their bedroom all through the summer?  I want that.  (The sleeping on a screened porch part, not the tragic farm boy tractor accident part.)

I want to sleep on a screened in porch on a summer night with crickets chirping outside, in a white, cotton nightgown.  I want to live like that.


And you know that movie Legends of the Fall with Brad Pitt out in Montana (no, not A River Runs Through It, but damn I love that movie too)?  You know how they live on so much land that you can look in any direction and see only rolling mountains, and they bury their whole family, one at a time, on the little graveyard up on the hill?  I want that, too.  (The expanse of beautiful land part, not the tragic family death caused by moonshine and war part.)

I want to be engulfed by mountains so big I forget my own name in their presence.  I want slow days spent lying on the hill, and exciting days spent breaking in wild horses and fighting off grizzly bears.  I want to wear animal-hide jackets that I tanned myself - and swishy skirts and cowboy boots.


And you know that movie The Beach, where Leonardo DiCaprio stumbles upon that commune on an island off of Thailand?  You know how they all just live there happily together, fishing and cooking and building and celebrating and growing and living, until that Swedish guy gets eaten by a shark and the majijuana growers come and shoot up the place and they all have to leave?  I want that, too.  (The island commune living happily together part, not the tragic shark accident/drug growing militia part.)

I want to live in a small community or village where the only things we do are directly related to our shared living - no separate workplaces, no traffic, no grocery stores, no structures that we didn't build with our own hands from the materials we found lying around us.

I want it all.  I want to see every place on the whole earth.  I want to meet every kind of person.  I want to see every kind of landscape.  I want to have every type of adventure.

I have worked so hard over the past year untethering myself from all responsibility and obligation (financial, occupational, and relational), that come June, I will literally have no one expecting anything from me.  I don't have to be anywhere at any time unless I choose to go there.

This is certainly exciting, and exactly what I have been waiting for.  And when I have the whole world as a possible next step, how can I choose in which direction to go?

(If you enjoy my blog, I invite you to become a follower by clicking the blue button that says: "Join this site" on the righthand side, or enter your email in the "Follow by email" field.  Thank you, and thanks for reading!)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Backpacking With Teens, Part Two: 7th Grade Adventures!

Just two days after returning from my Wild Women backpacking trip (which you can read about here), I set off for my next wilderness-trip-leading adventure: the 7th grade overnight trip on the Appalachian Trail.

The Science teacher, James, and I took 23 7th-graders on a two-day, 15-mile backpacking trip along a section of Maryland's A.T., followed by a day of whitewater rafting on the Potomac as a reward for all of their hard work.

I'm not sure if it was the karma that this amazing group of students had coming to them, or the fact that gods smiled on my final trip with FCS, but this really was one amazing trip.  I've been doing this overnight trip thing for seven years now, and never had one this enjoyable, adventurous, inspiring, and incident-free.

The forecast called for non-stop thunderstorms for all three days.  The reality was that it only rained at night on both nights.  We hiked, set up camp, built a fire, filtered water, and cooked our dinner without one drop, and then had the perfect pleasure of sleeping to the sound of sweet, summer rain on our tents.

The rain turned the morning forest into a misty, enchanted wonderland, and again, dried up by the time we set out for our second day of hiking.

Although we were tired and sore, there was little to no complaining.  The students sang and skipped down the trail, which made it nearly impossible to be cranky around them.  If one group of students got to a break point well before another, the first group would stand and clap and cheer for the stragglers as they hiked in to join us.

Despite the large group, we were also blessed with many wildlife sightings:

a baby possum

two box turtles

a big, fat toad

a large snapping turtle and a tiny box turtle

The main thing I learned on this trip was the value of staying present to each moment.  Every few minutes, I would get the question, "Melanie, how long have we hiked?" or "How many more miles until our next break/the camp/the hostel/the end?"  I quickly tired of answering the same distance questions over and over and over.  I was fascinated to see how obsessed the students were with time and distance.  It was a great lesson for me in what I must look like when I become hyper-focused on the future.

So I began giving them mysterious zen answers.

"Melanie, how far have we gone?"

"Exactly as far as we needed to to get here."

"Yeah but how many miles?"

"Just the right amount."

Sigh.  "Ok, how much further to the next stop?"

"I don't know.  Why don't you begin counting your steps and let me know what you ended up with when you get there?"

"Can't you just tell me how long until we get to camp?"

"Well since we are here right now, this is all that really exists, right?  I'm not even sure that camp exists, since it's in a hypothetical future at which we haven't yet arrived.  The next breath is an assumption, so how can I possibly discuss a camp that I have never seen nor been to?  I can only tell you what is around us right here, right now.  But you could probably figure that out yourself just by noticing.  Let's notice together for awhile, shall we?  How would it be if we only took this step, and then we only took the next, and so on, from now on?  I'm sorry - what was it you wanted to know?"


It worked.  They stopped asking.

All in all, it really was an inspiring time.  It was the first time backpacking for every single student on the trip, and they almost all said they wanted to do it again soon.  I'm grateful down to my core to know that a new group of young people will soon populate the wilderness, caring for it and blazing new trails where my generation has never trod.  If we're lucky, these brilliant teenagers will lead the way.

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Backpacking with Teens, Part One: Wild Young Women!

I have spent five out of the last seven days in the woods.  With teenagers.

I can hear some of you rolling your eyes.  (Yes, I can hear it.)  No need.  These teens blasted all stereotypes of what teens are supposed to be.  In fact, it is safe to say that I have just returned from two of the most enjoyable backpacking trips of my life.

I led both of these trips as part of an independent study for graduate school titled, "Backpacking as a Transformational Journey."  My experiences living in the wilderness with all I need strapped to my back have taught me invaluable lessons about simplicity, courage, and humility.  I wanted to see if I could share these gifts with some young people close to my heart, and hopefully inspire some of them to continue on their own transformational wilderness journeys.

The first trip was a women's trip.  My friend, Shelley, and I took three girls who have recently graduated from my school on a 10-mile weekend trip to Signal Knob.  We pushed ourselves physically and practiced/learned wilderness skills, but the most important part about this trip was the emphasis on womanhood.

At the summit of Signal Knob

I had been studying the "wild woman" archetype in stories throughout history and among many cultures.  I learned that all girls are born with a bit of wild woman in them, and most learn to suppress, tame, and quiet her down until she is socially acceptable and "nice."  I wanted to welcome these teenage girls into womanhood by making sure they know just how powerful they are.

Listening to a lesson on meditation during a time of stillness at an overlook

Taking a break to climb a tree - a worthwhile diversion for any young woman!

The highlight of this trip for all of us was probably swimming in the reservoir.  We took a little detour off the trail to strip down to our skivvies and swim in a very deep reservoir.  As we slurped and slushed through the mud at the bank, I thought, surely they'll think this is gross any minute and get out.  But no.

Swimming in the reservoir

As we began swimming out into the deep middle, and fishes began to swim at our feet and between our legs, again I was sure they would squeal and want to get out.  But no.  So we swam all the way out to a concrete tower/drain in the middle of the reservoir, climbed up, and jumped off its 10-foot platform again and again, laughing and cheering each other on.

Our diving board (that's us hanging off the ladder on the side).

My favorite part was when we decided to swim out of the reservoir the shorter way, which meant we needed to hike barefoot in our underwear along the trail back to our packs.  What an image!

At the end of the trip, each girl was given a meaningful trail name by Shelley and me, who had been observing their characteristics and behavior on the trip.

These young women taught me more than I could have planned to teach them with dozens of carefully-prepared lessons.  They demonstrated more courage than I ever had at their age.  Being around their energy gave me a renewed hope for the future, and a new sense of inspiration on my own path.

The girls built this fire all by themselves.

I can confidently say that the Wild Woman is not dead.  Not at all.  She is alive, well, and dancing her howling dance through the next generation of womb-bearers and earth-nourishers.  I am grateful for the chance I had to bear witness.

(If you enjoy my blog, I invite you to become a follower by clicking the blue button that says: "Join this site" on the righthand side, or enter your email in the "Follow by email" field.  Thank you, and thanks for reading!)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Text Battle

Although Oldman has indeed moved out and to his parents' house in New Orleans, and our individual and joint futures are uncertain, that has not stopped us from having silly text conversations.  In fact, this is what we used to do, but living together for the past five months has given us little opportunity.  Inspired by my favorite blogger, The Bloggess, who often posts silly conversations that she has with her husband, I have decided to share one of ours here.

Note: Oldman can get stuck on one subject sometimes (usually something technical that puts me to sleep), and I call him Rainman when he does this.  When I talked to him while he was on his way down to Louisiana, he went on and on about his great gas mileage, all Rainman-style.  This is important background information for the following text conversation.

Oh, and also, Oldman is very shy, and doesn't like to talk to people too much.  This is also important background information.


Me: Holy crap I got to work in 15 minutes!

Oldman: That's how long it takes to get to Hudson Trail Outfitters

Me: No, it takes four minutes to get to Hudson Trail

Oldman: At least 12 minutes.

Me: Well you're an old man so you drive slowly.

Oldman: Meh. I get great gas mileage.

Me: Ok, Rainman.

Oldman: Definitely.  Definitely.

Me: Anyway, how is your day?  What have you been doing?

Oldman: Taking care of the dog, unpacking, and playing that stupid RPG (role-playing game) on my phone.

Me: Maybe you could think of life as an RPG and it would help you interact with people.  Think about gaining points as you build up friendships and connections.

Oldman: That sounds like a stupid game.

Me: Your face sounds like a stupid game.

Oldman: Yo' mamma.  Oh SNAP!

Oldman: Yo momma is a wonderful woman is what I meant to say.

Me: Damn straight she is.

Me: But listen, about my RPG idea, I think it's also really important that you have it take place in 2012 because between your "Oh snap," your "yo momma" jokes, and your inescapable rainman-ness, you're a little stuck in the 90's.  So then in your RPG, you could also earn points by learning culturally relevant slang.

Oldman: Whaaaat!  Says you.  The 80's called and wants their music back.  AND your dancing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hello Sorrow. Let's Take a Drive.

Pain can in a very strange way 
make everything seem brighter. 
Not better, but brighter as in more. . .

Like because I'm already raw 
I'm extra sensitive to everything around me 
and extra appreciative.
I notice everything -

Like the robin collecting pieces of grass 
to build her nest in the honeysuckle bush
behind the wooden planks of Katie's
back fence.

Like the fat carpenter bees 
mysteriously working their way through 
the thick wood of her back porch eaves,
dropping sawdust snowflakes
as they carve. 

Like the combination of the breeze 
from the ceiling fan and the open porch door 
and how it feels on my leg. 

Like the way the barely dusky twilight 
shows the shadows behind the kids 
playing football in the street
as I leave her neighborhood. 

I feel hyper alive,
hyper present,
hyper grateful for every little thing. 
I guess it's because I'm so aware 
that everything around me
has an ending. 
I'm exposed. 
I'm accepting. 
I'm not hanging on. 

I'm taking the long way home, 
using all the back streets -
all the way from Baltimore.
I just can't handle 95 right now. 
So much life happens beyond the boundaries 
of the highway.
So much that I don't see
because I'm in a rush to get there 
the fastest way. 
But these stoplights - 
All these damned stoplights
are little reminders to breathe.

I'm beginning to see how sorrow 
is not all bad. 
It is creative fuel. 
It is an awakening gift.
It is an invitation to life. 

I love that it's almost 9 PM 
and there's still a long line 
outside of the soft serve ice cream stand. 
I wouldn't have seen that 
on 95. 
I've never seen that ice cream stand 
And why is there a giant sculpture 
of a hot pink bunny 
outside of that library? 

I want to roll down the windows 
as I drive 
and open my mouth wide 
to eat all of the cool,
twilight air.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

This isn't really me writing this.

I've been continuing to think a lot about identity since my last post about it.  It seems I never get tired of asking "Who am I?" despite the fact that my inner critic screams, "Shut up!  You're so narcissistic!  You are who you are!  Stop thinking about it!"  Sometimes I listen to my inner critic and stop thinking about it.  And sometimes I don't listen and think a lot about it.  And then I blog about it.

Oldman and I on the banks of the Gulf Coast in New Orleans last December

The main reason identity keeps coming up for me right now is because I am thinking a lot about having an individual identity within the context of a relationship.  Oldman put it perfectly when he said:

How can I still be a ME when I'm also part of an US?

How do people do that?  I've been in and out of relationships since I was 16 (not counting all those childhood playground kisses and "relationships" where neither person talks to each other and you just write their name with hearts all over your notebook), and I still haven't figured it out.

Every time I'm single, I have no problem knowing who I am.  I know what I want to eat, listen to, and read.  I know who I want to to hang out with.  I know where I want to go.  I know what I like, and I spend time doing it.

And then every time I get into a relationship, no matter how much I tell myself I will hold on to who I am with an iron fist, I start to lose parts of me.  I don't know it's happened until it's already done.  I gradually make myself smaller and smaller to fit easily into the relationship without making any waves or doing anything that the other person might not like.  And then I wake up one day and I don't like myself and I realize it's because I've done it again.

I want to give myself the benefit of the doubt.  I want to believe I do it out of positive intention and love.  I love the other person and want to see them happy, so I make little compromises here and there.  Those small decisions build up over time, and then I'm in the habit of thinking more about what they need and less about what I need.  Is that how it's supposed to go?  Is that being selfless or losing your dignity?  Sometimes they look so much alike.

The tent that housed the dream

I had a powerful dream while backpacking last week.  (I am a firm believer that dreams given to me when I'm sleeping on a mountain or in the wilderness need to be paid attention to.)  I dreamed that I was going to get deported, so I had to change my identity and leave - immediately.

I was rushing around, trying to maintain an appearance of cool and calm to everyone, while frantically packing a bag and trying to take what I would need with me.  I told my mom, but no one else.  She was helping me make a plan as we were packing my bag.

I would go move to Asheville, North Carolina, change my name and appearance, and never speak to anyone in my current life again.  No contact with my family or any friends.  I would have to start a whole new life, and I couldn't even tell anyone about it.

I awoke feeling unstable and scared.  I wanted to call my mom right away for comfort, but I couldn't because I was in the middle of the woods.  But the idea of losing everything about who I am stayed with me all day.  As I hiked out, I pondered what an identity really is, and how I cemented mine.

Identity theft:

As if figuring out who I am isn't complicated enough on its own, there is now another me out there.  Someone filed a false tax return in my name, which is why I (finally) found out that I haven't received my refund even though I filed over 10 weeks ago.

Someone stole my identity.  I can't help but see the extreme irony in that phrase at this point in my life - stole my identity.  How is it possible to even do that?  There is someone running around in this world with my name, address, and social security number, pretending to be me.

So are they me?  Am I a name, address, and 9-digit number?  Or am I flesh and blood?  Or am I something that is neither of those; something you can't see or touch; something that will survive after this body and my social security number both expire?  I don't think you can steal that.  But you also can't open a credit card with it.

If they think they've hit the jackpot by being me with my steady income and good credit score, they're going to get a big surprise when my last paycheck comes August 15th and nothing comes after it!  Ha!

We're both about to be dirt poor.  And then maybe we'll both have to start over - just like in my dream.

(If you enjoy my blog, I invite you to become a follower by clicking the blue button that says: "Join this site" on the righthand side, or enter your email in the "Follow by email" field.  Thank you, and thanks for reading!)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Wild Prayer

I was talking with my friend, Eshe, yesterday.  We had some time to talk while supervising recess at school, and I wanted to talk about something OTHER than boys for once, so I asked her what she has been reading.  Turns out, she's been reading many books on the topic of prayer.  I found our ensuring conversation to be quite thought-provoking.

Prayer means so many different things to different people.  When I say, "I'll pray for you," what I really mean is, "I'll think about you with peace and send some kind of healing light your way, knowing that the universe will conspire together to guide you on the perfect path for you."  But it's easier just to say, "Yeah, I'll pray for you."


Back when I was a Christian, if I said, "I'll pray for you," what I usually meant was, "I'll silently judge you for not being the way I think you should be, and ask my equally-judgemental God to fix and/or punish you until you submit to his guilt and change your ways."

(I'm not saying that is what all Christians mean by prayer, it's just what I meant at that time in my life.)

So what is prayer, anyway?

Eshe reminded me that one of our teachers at Tai Sophia says that prayer is simply turning your attention towards someone in a positive light.  But prayer can also be a petition, and that's where things get tricky.

This took me all the way back to being in elementary school.  I remember asking my mom one night, "How do I know what to pray for?"

"What do you mean?" she asked.  "Pray for the things that are on your heart, and God will hear you."

"But isn't God much more powerful than me?"

"Yes," she answered.

"So, isn't God going to do whatever God is going to do anyway, whether or not I pray for it to happen?  Like, hasn't He already figured out how he wants things to go?  So how are my prayers making a difference?"

I don't remember how the conclusion to that conversation went, but as I was re-telling it to Eshe, it hit me.  My prayers make a difference for ME, not "God."  I AM THE ONE CHANGED BY PRAYER!  Prayer changes me and my response to a situation, not the other way around.

Eshe shouted, "Yes!" and jumped in the air.  Then she told me that Ghandi said something like "The only true thing to pray is that God's will be done."  And I remembered that that's all Muslims pray for - God's will to be done.  They are always saying, "Inshallah," which means "If it is the will of Allah."


So if God's will is going to be done regardless, and the Tao is going to continue to flow where it will flow, and the universe will continue exploding and creating in whatever ways its going to explode and create, then what is left for us to do?



We can "pray" that we will recognize the will of God, or the flow of the Tao, and align ourselves with it.  We can even pray with no words.  We can just hold someone in our minds and love them.  I can never go wrong with love, and that person will be no worse off because I took a few moments to love them with intention.

As a result of this conversation, I plan to re-introduce prayer into my life.  I'm going to play around with different ways of praying, and see what happens!

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Independent vs. co-dependent. Um, another option, please?

I haven't really posted in awhile because I've been deep in relationship stuff, and not sure how to write about any of it, and not sure whether I want to write about any of it, and not sure whether I want to write about any of it on my public blog.

The answer is yes.  Yes I do.

WARNING: This is one of those posts where things are still a bit un-tidy and un-figured-out.  Yowza!  If you want to read happy, neatly-packaged, all-figured-out posts that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, check this out - one of my favorite blogs.

Or.... if you especially love messy, irreverent, inappropriate, un-figured-out posts, check this out - another one of my favorite blogs.

Ok now that you're done reading other people's blogs, back to ME for chrissake!  Or as my corny uncle always says, "Enough about me.  What do you think of me?"  (Another warning: I'm in a bit of a rambley, unfocused mood.  This should be interesting. . .)

Backpacking in West Virginia this weekend.  I'm alone in the picture, but not alone on the trip. . .

One big question in my life for the past several years has been: how can I be both independent and in a relationship?

I know how to be independent.  I'm good at being single, and I'm especially good at traveling alone.  I meet people easily, enjoy my own company, and have no one to haggle with when making plans.

I also know how to be co-dependent, as in, in an un-healthy relationship where I allow myself to be completely swallowed by the other person to the point where I start to forget who I am.

Independent and alone.  Co-dependent and in a relationship.  They have seemed like my only two options.  Is it possible to take the best parts of both scenarios - the being independent and self-possessed, but also getting all the good stuff from a relationship - at the same time??

This relationship with Oldman has been a veritable testing ground for this question.  As I've mentioned in a previous post back when we met, I am Oldman's first girlfriend.  (Yes, he's legal.  Sheesh. Don't be gross.  He's 31 years old for crissake.  He's just extremely introverted.)  This means that he is also very practiced at being independent (to put it mildly.  If you know him, you probably just laughed out loud at how mildly I put it).

What can be done with two people who are practiced at being independent; well-versed in making plans without consulting anyone else; seasoned in protecting themselves and avoiding vulnerability?  What can be done when those two people try to discuss moving across the country together?  How can they ever make that conversation work?

How does one know when one is compromising for love, and when one is compromising one's identity?  How can one be vulnerable without being weak?  How does one know when a lesson needs to be learned alone, and when one needs to be learned with a partner?


In the improv comedy game show, "Whose Line is it Anyway?" there's a game where you can only speak in questions.  No matter what the other person asks, you can't answer it - you must respond with another question.  This situation feels like that game.  No matter what I ask out into the universe, all I get in return is another question.

I can be ok with the unknowing, but my god - everyone wants to know what I'm DOING!  "What are you doing?"  "Where are you going?"  "What are your plans?"  "Are you going alone?"  I think I might make a t-shirt that says, I DON'T KNOW and wear it every day until I leave.  Ha!

Don't get me wrong - it's hard to read tone through typed words.  I'm not upset or offended by any of these questions.  I ask myself the same ones every day.  I'm just reminded, over and over, how much we as a human species value knowing.

This post started out being about being independent versus being co-depdendent.  And now it's about unknowing.  And about "Whose Line is it Anyway?"  But I guess it fits with my life lately.  Yes, it's all happening at the same time, and it's all related to everything else, and it's a little funny and a little sad and a little exciting and a little confusing.

I don't know how to end this one.  OMG!  See - there it is again - the I DON'T KNOW!  Ok, I'm making a t-shirt.

(If you enjoy my blog, I invite you to become a follower by clicking the blue button that says: "Join this site" on the righthand side, or enter your email in the "Follow by email" field.  Thank you, and thanks for reading!)

Another Way to Say "Be the Change. . ."

(some random post from Facebook with no credit)

Whom are we waiting for to change the government?  The president?  Congress?  What have I done this week to address the issues of concern in my community?

Whom are we waiting for to bring peace?  The soldiers?  Our foreign policy?  What have I done this week to eliminate the causes of war?

Whom are we waiting for to heal our bodies?  Doctors?  Research scientists?  What have I done this week to nourish my bodymind and promote wellness in myself?

Whom are we waiting for to "fix" our relationships?  The other person?  What have I done this week to show unconditional love?

Add your own in the comment section.

(If you enjoy my blog, I invite you to become a follower by clicking the blue button that says: "Join this site" on the righthand side, or enter your email in the "Follow by email" field.  Thank you, and thanks for reading!)