I was (kind of) a ballerina on Halloween last Monday. I am (kind of) a ballerina all the time. Because I was a ballerina for a really long time. And so being a ballerina is one of the ways I think of who I am. I have been reflecting on this for many years. On what it means to lay on different definitions of me. And whether they are me.
I have been reflecting on this for a long time and have discovered a deep appreciation for my stories as a place where my intuition and creativity live. This is where I process and learn. This is where I see what fits. And after these many years of exploring, I have gained a really good handle on when I am me and when I am my stories and when each part of me should be the me that shows up. The balance is there
But recently something new came up and it took me by surprise. It started as I shared a self-reflection, and what was mirrored back was an ah ha moment for me. And then a necessary evaluation of the stories that I create around the people around me.
I know that just as I lay on different definitions of me, I also do this to others. And again, this creativity around those around me often times is the opportunity to explore the possibility of you. What I did not know was that there are times when I project onto others these stories of who they are, not as a creative exercise in discovery, but because these stories are what I need others to be. For me.
And now that I am starting to break this down, I am realizing what a terrible disservice I do when the stories get so big and the expectations of how I want these people I love to be become really important. And I am realizing I have a lot invested in this.
I have a lot invested in the stories I have created because I have a lot invested in my needs. It feels narcissistic. And is self-centered. It is certainly self-serving.
I want to make amends. I want to show up to the people in my life who I have projected my needs onto and created a story about, and I want to tell them how sorry I am for that.
But there’s more, because in this process of making amends, I realize I have to make amends to me.
I want to make amends to others. Because I love them deeply and laid a lot of stuff on them to carry. Even if they didn’t know this. (energetically they always knew this)
And I have to make amends to me.
To say to myself I forgive you for the need you laid on others. I forgive you for the disrespect of others. I forgive myself for the projection of the stories I created because I am not able to sit just with me.
I forgive me as I take the fiction, the illusion, the stories—and I see them. And I start to break them down. So that I can differentiate when my thoughts are creativity and an imagining of possibility. And when they become expectation as the balance shifts and the intention is heavy.
This is where my work is now. I know how to show up without my tutu. Now it’s time to let go of the expectation that you will always dance in my ballet.
So, I live in the soul connection world where I get to drop into my pineal gland and have conversations with other people across energetic fields of love and connection. And I live in my human body and navigate my daily life through the human experience. The human experience is harder than the soul dance experience. The soul dance experience is beautiful.
If I could live in the soul dance all the time that would be friggin’ incredible because it’s surrounded by love and unconditional acceptance and everyone speaks from their higher self because they are their higher self and it feels fucking amazing. Human experience not so much. There are definitely those exquisite moments of joy and gratitude and connection with the other humans that I’ve chosen to incarnate with down here in our human bodies. But there’s angst and trauma and loss and grief and misunderstanding and miscommunication and despair and loneliness and so when I leave that to tap into my conversations that exist above this realm of existence there’s always that fleeting moment where I say God I wish I can stay up here and God laughs because he always laughs when I say things like this.
(quick note: my experience of God as he appears to me, is male energy. That doesn’t mean your experience of him, as he appears to you, is the same… and what a good idea for a separate post, right?)
Back to God. So, I say what I say, and he laughs. He actually laughs before I even finish saying what I say because he doesn’t have to wait to respond until I complete my thought since he knows what it’s going to be anyway. That’s how I know it’s him talking. It’s a timing thing. The Universe does this, too. (here’s that gender thing again) She absolutely knows my thoughts before they are formed and speaks up quite quickly. And then there is the voice inside me, the wise part. I call her my Witness. She sits on my shoulder and looks like a fairy. She also responds before thoughts are formed. She didn’t used to. Sometimes it took a good ten minutes before she would speak up. But now she is quick. And she loves me.
So, I have those fleeting moments where I say God I wish I could live up here and he laughs and then I say no I can’t do that because that’s not where I’m supposed to be. I’ve chosen to ground down here. And I go back into my body.
And that’s the game of spiritual bypass. Because we want to bypass all this shit. Because it doesn’t feel good and it’s challenging and we cry a lot. But we can’t because then we’ll end up back up in Soul Land with our cast of players, who showed up exactly the way we asked them to so we could learn the lessons that we’re supposed to learn, will say what the fuck are you doing here? Now you’re going to have to go back in your next life and do all this shit all over again. because you bypassed it this time around.
And then here I am again, back in the human body, doing the work of being human.
Self-portraits, September 2016, Monterey, Massachusetts
Pineal Meditation, by Kelly Schwegel,
These pictures are a capture of the last 10 years of my life. Upper left is 2012, the center, 2022. A capturing, a rendering, a visual reflection on growth and change, grief and joy, love and loss and loss again with lots of love thrown in. And through it all a constant stepping into Crone. In a big way.
But let me step back to the beginning.
I’m sitting in this law school class looking at this professor and thinking how much I just fucking hate her and as my thoughts crystallize clear in my mind she spins around and she stares right at me because she heard me. She fucking heard my silent thoughts as I sent them like daggers into her face—that’s how much I dislike this woman in that instant that she opened her mouth to teach me the law.
I can’t remember if I held her gaze or not. I’d like to think I did because I’m a bad ass and that would be what would give me a sense of pride which is truly a terrible emotion to feel when it is toxic like this. But in all likelihood, I didn’t. I probably looked for a split second and then looked away thinking that if our eyes weren’t meeting she couldn’t read my thoughts even though she could. And then I proceeded to try to pay attention and take the terrible notes that I take because I don’t know how to take notes because I’m an auditory learner and writing other people’s information down escapes me.
And then all of a sudden class was over, probably in the next two minutes even though it was probably an hour later, and I packed up my books to walk out of the classroom and she was standing at the door.
I looked at her to thank her in my absolutely disingenuous way as a coping mechanism for my embarrassment and shame because she read my mind, and she looked deeply at me and said I know you want to do this work, but you are not in Crone yet. You are still in Mother. And she smiled at me. What the fuck, right?
You see I had been stepping into my powers more. I was absolutely in Mother, with three children ages not even 1, 3 and 5, and I was dabbling a little bit in witchcraft. It resonated with me at that time, though I realized very quickly that the goddess power is not necessarily the only power I possessed. But at that moment it felt good—it felt feminine and in alignment with who I was showing up as in the world.
And my psychic powers were really strong. They always had been since I was little and I foretold the future and a ghost lived in my room who messed up my stuff. And now, with my kids quite young and during my moon cycle, my powers were strong. And I was playing in them quite often.
I’m thinking that it was all good. And then this woman that I fucking hated in an instant when I saw her face as she started to teach me the law said that I couldn’t do that now because I was in Mother. And my energy needed to flow outward to the care of my children and the nurturing of their power not inward to the care of myself and the nurturing of mine.
I truly don’t remember what I said to her in response. I think I might’ve said how do you know this? But I might’ve just looked at her. In my rewrite of my story, I said something wise but that might not have been true either. And she said we’ll talk about this more.
And in that instant this woman that I hated so much as she started to teach me the law became my mentor. And I loved her. And this experience has stayed with me forever and has become the foundation of literally all the work that I do and all the work that I teach other people to do around their powers and around their cycles of knowledge and gifts of intuition.
And when young women come to me as they are holding their babies and tell me their secrets, I tell them it will be hard to do this work right now because you are in Mother not in Crone so take your focus and move it outward to the nurturing and care of your children. And when the time comes, you too can step fully into your power.
I have my family on my back. In tattoo form. A montage of trees and plants, flowers and leaves. They are the rendering of images that arise from Celtic Tree Astrology—the belief that we are born not under the power of the stars but under the power of the trees. Why this resonates so deeply with me I am not completely sure. I know that the need to have plants on my body came before the desire to have the trees that represent my family on my self. I feel—when I sit deep in that knowing that lives in my belly—that I was once a priestess of plants and flowers. A maker of potions and a guardian of all that grows from the earth. But in this lifetime the gift of growing that which begins in the dirt alludes me. The desire is there yet the skill has not passed through on this current journey of humanhood and so I place flowers and leaves on my skin in homage to the gifts of past lives.
I am the Ash Tree. In Celtic Mythology, the Ash tree is the World Tree—the tree that spans between worlds and the tree that represents The Tree of Life.
My son and middle daughter and my husband are all Holly—one of the most beloved and respected trees and the noble one among Celtic Tree Astrology, the Holly possesses protective qualities.
My youngest daughter is Hawthorn—one of the most sacred trees and the illusionist. Just like Gemini in Western Astrology, this shapeshifter isn't all that it appears to be. Fairies live under the Hawthorn tree as its guardians.
I am thinking lately about this forest on my back because two new souls have entered my family's lineage. Two new babies are now of this world and I feel the call to represent them on my skin. Conveniently (or not) they are both born under the Birch Tree. The first of the tree symbols, the Birch is the symbol of new beginnings. regeneration, hope, new dawns and promise of what is to come.
The promise of what is to come.
This meaning is lovely and right and makes sense to me. For this promise of the future, these babies hold this space. There is no expectation in this but merely the truth that they are the manifestation of the continuation of life. They are the as yet unknown opportunities. They are the creators of what is to happen. They are their next step in the evolution of their lifetimes—a huge undertaking and still a small step in the journey of their souls.
I am in awe of this and of them and the placing of them on my back as a part of the whole is an important task for me. In the nurturing of all that grows, their leaves intermingled within the others plants on my body means that I can feed them and hold them as they too grow forward into this time called their life times. This placing of the leaves in still to be determined locations is sacred. It is an honoring and a welcoming while it is a marking of time and place. Adding these two babies to the whole in this permanent way is my way of thanking them for choosing to become part of this family that they now belong to.
And so I will make time to get my ink on. And will find a rendering of the Birch Tree that captures what these new beings mean to me as they compliment the art on my back, a sign of their contribution to our tribe.
I am sitting here this morning thinking that this is the morning of the last day of 2018 and feeling this need to write something. And then sitting in the need for this and trying to figure out if I want to write something. And then examining the expectation that I have obviously now created for myself and figuring out what that exactly is and finally coming full circle but not really because I am ending up in a completely new place not in the place I started even though I am at this place where I am feeling the need to write something this morning.
I started this weekly writing that has turned into, over this last year, a monthly or a bit more than a monthly writing, in December 2014. This is four years ago. This is really cool. There are a lot of writings here. Many are deep in introspection. Some are light and filled with my mind's musing. Many, many (many many many many) are about my dog because she is perfect. And a few of them are funny.
These are the ones I want to write about today. Or rather share about today. The funny ones. The ones that I still think about or read again and laugh out loud with.
And to give credit where credit is due, this journey into the funny is inspired by my daughter, Teagan, who shared with me this morning that she had read last night my very first writing and how funny it was. Is. And I went, ah ha, because I had this feeling that I wanted to write something this morning. But didn't have something I wanted to write about. Until then. Now. And now I am writing about this. Finding the funny.
My very first writing. A funny trip down my aging body. But really a deep need to connect to others: Why I Wear Very Good and Extremely, Obscenely Expensive Bras and Other Healthy Ways of Coping with a Changing Body.
My parents came to visit and we had a very full day. CVS played a huge role and we ate donuts: CVS, Sinfully Sugary Donuts and a Salad.
While the conversation around my perfect dog is constant—how could it not be considering how amazing she is—there are other times that I spoke about other pets. This is one of those times: This Is Ophelia.
And this is another one: This is About Phoenix - and All The Other Pets We've Had.
There are still others that make me laugh. Some a lot. Some not as much. But laughter still. Moments perhaps in a deeper writing where laughter still springs forth as I read and am transported to that time when I was writing. Laughter about what I was writing about or what was happening during the writing—as often the experience of writing the writing is the most funny of all.
Here are two of those: the family bed took on a life of its now in our lives: The Family Bed, and the brilliantly coined adapta-jeans. . . need I say more? We Are In Nantucket But This Is Not About That.
And so you have it. A finding the funny in reflecting back on four years of writing. And a photo of my perfect puppy in wings. :-)
Happy New Year. Thank you for reading my writing today.
And it was just amazing.
An afternoon of open heart and deep sharing and community connection and these amazing musicians and talented artists offering their work and this yummy food and great wine and cold beer and we sold books that allows us to give even more to our community through the Greater Goods Relief Fund.
And we talked about Paradise, California and Malibu, California and we held these towns in our hearts and in our prayers because we understand. And we talked about climate change and our earth and we honored the spirits of the North and the South and the East and the West and gave thanks to their power and promised to honor and care for this land.
And I met people I already knew through social media and through the making of this book. Faces were added to names that I had been saying out loud for soon it will be ten months and to meet these people who gave their stories and their photographs and their art and their heart so willingly and with such grace and candor—this was amazing for me.
And we made the front page of the New York Times! I mean...the NEW YORK TIMES!!!!
I feel blessed to have been able to create this book with my book partner and sweet friend and I feel such joy that this launch was such a beautiful gathering. To be able to support my community—the tangible losses of home and job and the emotional grief that comes when a town is surrounded by fire—this fills my heart.
At one point a friend pulled my eyes up for a moment from the books I was signing as the Ojai sunset graced us with a beautiful pink sky and I took it all in.
Thank you for reading my writing today.
FROM THE FIRE: Ojai Reflects on the Thomas Fire
I am writing after not writing for quite a while. It is an uneasy flow writing. A thinking about writing, writing. These are not the writings that I love. I love the ones where the thoughts are fresh and run like rain that pours down into rivers and washes free and clear. I like writings where the ideas come to be without the thoughts first. Just that light of knowing and then the words follow swift and free and my writing is here to share. These I love.
But this, this writing with effort, this is not what I love. Yet this too is something important. And now, in this instant as I am typing these exact words I have my ah ha moment. And now the writing comes with ease because the message has become clear. This is why I am writing this. This is why I write.
I have gone through different stages in my life. Some easier than other. And through all of them I have always had these different thoughts. Sometimes, for many of the times, the thought was that it was ok or really quite right that the times were difficult because this is part of the journey. That we learn from the times where the growing is hard, the hills are steep, the pain is fierce.
But then I think more recently that it is in the ease of things that the path of truth flows through. That our lives are not supposed to be difficult. That when we stand in exactly where we should be it is natural and light and unfolds in effortless beauty.
But then I second guess again. Because those times where it still feels like a struggle at times, when this happens and I give up in those times—when I shift direction or turn around or stop cold in my tracks—what I have to see is whether this is honoring that the path is wrong because it is laced with boulders and steep ravines and dangerous falls, or whether I am avoiding the challenge to grow through the tough stuff.
Is everything that is right supposed to unfold with ease?
It is all much like this writing. It began in stops and starts. Sweet good words and then pauses of empty space where I did not know what came next. And then there was that opening. That moment where I went oh, this is why I am writing this. This sitting in the unease of it is part of the flow. It is not an all or nothing thing. It is an all and everything thing.
I am going to be a grandma! Which is probably one of the most wonderful things ever. And more than that, I am going to be a grandma twice! Two of my three children are having babies—three weeks and five days apart to be exact. Well, if they come when they say they are coming. They meaning the ultrasound and OB/GYN people. The they that are these perfect beings that are soon to be babies, they will come when they want to come and so I have been sending out loving and grandma like messages to them asking them to maybe work together and come far enough a part that I can get across the country from one to the other when their sweet breath and small hands and full hearts enter our world. I am thinking they are probably not listening to me. They are too busy growing and making their lungs strong and their kidneys healthy and tapping into their mommy's and their daddy's voices and love.
So this grandma person that I am now. That moment when I heard, when I learned that I was becoming this, that I was moving into this new place that I would inhabit and my heart filled with joy, grief came along too. It sat quietly but certainly let me know it was there. Tender actually in it's presence and it's knowing and I let it linger for a bit and then got down to business.
Grief when you are becoming a grandmother I googled. And what came up over and over again was "grieving because I will never be a grandmother" and "helping a grandparent who is grieving." Google did not understand my question and no matter how much I changed my words and rearranged my thoughts the information about this was the same.
This was much the same way when my son got married. I went a 'googling to see if I could find words to capture the strong feelings that arose from deep within my core. But there was nothing. So I wrote about it here. The fullness and joy of my boy and this beautiful woman who I just loved since she was seventeen getting married! And along with this, the deep sadness and loss. And grief.
I wrote back then there is wonder in this. And joy. And sadness too. But a good sadness. More an honoring of the passing of time and the change that is taking place in his life. And in my life, too.
And I wrote that I could not quite get what it all meant. And so, to learn this lesson fully, the universe gifted me more experiences to illuminate this message so that I would understand.
It was not a loss of my son, it was a loss of my self. A loss of who I was in that instant before and those moments before that. For when we step forward into the new place that fills us up and awakens the joy in our hearts and our souls, we step away from the place we were before. Every time.
There is loss in transition. And there is grief in loss.
I do not think this is talked about much when the grief settles in on those times where the world sees only joy. But really every moment forward is a loss of what is now past us. Every stone we step on as we move in our journey down river means we have left our wet footprint behind and can no longer see those flowers that grow along that part of the riverbank. We leave behind everything we love every day even as we love these things again when we awake.
And so these babies. These miraculous gifts of life that are coming forth into this world through my babies. This is spectacular. And now I know the lesson they are bringing with them. I can just now start to see them down river, they are waiting after the bend that will then block my view if I look back upstream. They are small and sweet and will define this new place that I am moving towards as I settle more deeply into my own life. They are the physical manifestation of the movement of life. And they will embody this transition fully.
Sometimes a writing comes along that touches that inner spirit, soul-journeying, power place and you say, ah, yes. These are words that sit with me. This is such a writing. Written by Deva Temple.
When you realize that this is your last lifetime, you suddenly find beauty in strip malls and you pay more attention to the way dried grass blows with a subtle breeze. You notice the solidity of a hug and the way dust is time's messenger. You tremble and release, tremble and release... You practice the jump into infinity. You weep for every reason. You meet joy and sorrow, love and grief, with utter equanimity, welcoming all as dear, old, sacred friends. You watch how smoke goes up into an empty sky and you recognize the mirror. You know that living your truth until the very last second is worth every possible price. You know that time is precious. You will never come this way again. You will not wait in line at the grocery store, wondering what the person in front of you is thinking. You will not be held up in traffic or make love or turn pebbles about in your hand or pluck at the grass or listen to the waves. You will not sing your favorite song. You will not drink beer or hold an asana. You will not laugh nor will you cry. Your story, your entire story, not just this story of you in this particular body at this particular time, but every story, every body, your entire transmigrational tale, it is going to disappear. You know this. You prepare yourself to be Nothing. You know yourself to be Everything. One by one, you let go of each thing: your family, your desire for money, the quest for power, old journals, clothes, beauty, youth, the yearning for life... You give up making love. Your body changes but you don't care. You stop caring if other people care. You give up fame. You give up striving. You give up all attachments. A fire comes and burns it all down and you stand there, open armed, open eyed, open hearted, and watch it burn, a sacrifice, your life, your being, an altar. You watch the smoke merge into the naked emptiness above. You recognize the mirror.
When you realize that this is your last lifetime you start to gaze at your beloved a little longer. You notice the way light reflects off his eyes, the depth of color, the tiny imperfections of the iris which make his windows so perfectly unique. You notice the souls all around you, making their way in bodies light or heavy, burdened or carefree. You notice their fear, their "I don't think I'm good enough," and you know that they are. You see the beauty of God in the old man sitting in front of you on the bus, how the sunlight illuminates his thin skin, how his liver spots tell a story of his unfolding journey. You fall in love with the heavy woman in front of you in line at Walmart. You see how Divinity hides in the movement of her flesh, so alike water. You forgive the rapist and the murderer. You hope that the truth you leave behind helps all of you on your journeys home. You know that we are in this together. You know that there is nothing "out there." You know that there is only One of us here. You open your body. You meet your fate: the pain, the love, the loss, the beauty, the horror, the surprise and the knowing... Arms outstretched, heart forward, you rise up like the mist, like sunlight, like the scent of hyacinth in the springtime, like a child's first cry. You escape. You dissipate. You expand. You release. You surrender. You pass through. You do not stop to admire the brilliance. You do not look back. You do not cling. You do not ask "what if..." You merge into the Emptiness. The all-knowing Void of Conscious Love. The singularity of time. You recognize This as your deepest Self, your most familiar Home. Origin. Source. Being. Truth. God. The Ineffable Infinite. Great Mystery... You hold this knowing without attachment, without regret, without longing, without doubt, without thought. You become utter Stillness. Empty-Full. Full Circle... Complete.
We did the family bed thing. For like years. And a friend once asked me—way, way back—if this was just the way it is...and what did I do if my kids said they wanted to sleep in their own bed? Well, I said, I tell them no, because this is about my needs. She was shocked. And I was shocked that she thought I was serious. Because this, this family bed thing, that's not what it's about. It's not about me. And it's not about this we-are-doing-this-one-thing-exactly-this-way thing. It's about comfort and reliability and connection. And it's about respect and growth and maturity. And about being independent while being interdependent and recognizing that both exist at the same time. It's about knowing that it's safe so that you can sleep anywhere because you know that you can sleep right here when you need that. This is what family bed is.
It's child led. And so it ebbs and flows and changes, sometimes in the same night. And it makes a good night's sleep complicated sometimes but makes every night's sleep a good sleep because your baby is safe and your child is close, whether they are in their own room or yours.
To make this work for us—my husband and I—we got double size beds in all our kid's rooms. When they went from the crib to a bed it was not a kid bed or a training bed or a twin-it-just-fits-one bed. It was a true double that two adults could sleep in comfortably bed. Because we knew that we would be in it a lot. In each bed. Either together—as in me and him—or with one or more of our kids, possibly not with the child who's room the bed was in. And of course with an assortment of cats and dogs, too.
Our nights were busy. Sometimes our children fell asleep in our bed. Sometimes they fell asleep in their bed and made it to our bed in the night. Sometimes one was in our bed and two were in another bed. When all three were in our bed we went to another bed. There was a lot going on.
There were those moments when I would hear a child cry out or reach out or call out and I would jump from a bed and run into the hall to have to stand still for a moment and remember what bed I just left to know what bed to go to to find the child that needed a hug or a hold or a soothing night voice. And there were those moments where my husband and I, we spent the night alone in our bed with each child in their bed and I would wake in the night for just a moment to listen to the quiet of breath through the house.
And it was all good. The busyness of it and the calmness of it. The moving from place to place and the comfort of being in one space altogether.
We did this for years. We did this until they didn't do this anymore. Even when they still did. When my son came home from college one year and I woke in the night to find him asleep on the daybed next to my bed. When my daughter stays over and lays in my bed because a mommy's bed is always the most comfortable even when it's not. We do this even when we don't do this—back then and now—because what this is, this family bed thing, it is that we are here. Whether when they were little and we held them close in sweet deep sleep or now when they know that we will always be just a bedroom away even if we are many states away. We are here. We will always be here. That is what this is all about. Always.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.