Category Archives: Archetypes

Freeing The Voice From Within

By the time I walk up the flight of stairs and into the room I’m working to shake the uncomfortable feeling that I’m late and the built-up frustration over finding the place in the first place.  I unzip my favourite short, red boots and leave them at the door and walk into the room, glancing around as I take off my raincoat and hang it up.  I see a slim man sitting yogi-like on a square brown cushion, his back against the wall, and he looks so at home that I wonder if he’s an assistant.  I have no idea what to expect with this weekend voice intensive and I have more than a bit of resistance and fear.

I just lied.  I do have some idea of what to expect, and that’s exactly why I have some resistance and fear.  I’ve taken more than my share of voice classes, and by this I don’t mean singing classes.  Although voice work benefits singers and complements their practice, let’s be very clear – this is NOT a singing lesson.  I mean voice work as in finding your natural, true and honest voice in all its powerful, resonant magnificence and vulnerability, whether through song or spoken word.  It’s the ‘powerful’ and ‘vulnerable’ part that creates the spark of fear and resistance within me.  And also because I don’t yet know how ‘safe’ this room will be for the exploration that is to come.  I’m taking steps into the unknown.

A man strides towards me, holds out his hand and looks me in the eye, “Hello, I’m Noah.  Welcome.”

“I’m Terri,” I smile back.  I recognize Noah Drew from his picture on his website and feel a bit of the fear slip away.  I look at the others gathering in the room, and am comforted by the same look of unknowing on their faces – we are in this together.  This eclectic little group of us, four women and three men, plus Noah and his assistant, Melinda, who is a kind looking woman slightly older than I am, NOT the cushion sitting yogi man as it turns out.

Noah’s website says, “Fitzmaurice Voicework is a highly physical approach to vocal training, that helps you communicate your thoughts, intentions, and feelings, with a free, flexible, and potent voice.  The work combines classical voice training with adaptations of yoga, shiatsu, Reichian bodywork and other body-based meditative practices.  It aims to increase freedom of breath, resonance, power, spontaneity and emotional connection – the full range of humanity that can be expressed in the voice.

The Destructuring phase of the work involves freeing body and breath from chronic tensions and “programmed” patterns, to allow deep spontaneity and presence.  In restructuring, we channel the wild impulsivity stirred up by the Destructuring into an open, healthy, supported voice.”

I’m always fumble-mouthed when it comes to describing to others what it is we do in voice classes.  My non-actor friends always assume I’m learning to sing.  I wonder, would I notice that I needed voice class if I weren’t an actor?  For me, the scene study and character study work that I do as an actress is what points the way to the inner Self work that I am called to do.  I don’t want any of “my” problems, tensions, blocks to get in the way of telling the truth of the story, in honouring the playwright’s words.  I need to get out my own way to let the truth come forth through my body and my voice.  And sometimes that means doing some heavy excavation work.

I’m playing Theresa in a scene from Shelagh Stevenson’s “Memory of Water”, a play with high-stakes, high energy and intense emotion and I can feel the front of my throat constricting at the height of the scene.  Instead of the beautiful potency of the emotions coming through, my voice is instead coloured with a shrill crawing, closing out any of the soft, underbelly tones of vulnerability.

I allow myself a moment of frustration, but only a moment.  What before might have derailed me for months, now guides me to my next task; more and regular voice work.  Through years of inner work I’ve learned that an expression of powerful intense emotions, especially anger, causes a constriction in my throat.  The ‘flight or fight’ response kicking in. After many years living with an emotionally abusive and unavailable husband, I learned that strong emotions are never to be expressed.  They were the sign of a very unstable individual, namely me.  Despite the years of inner emotional and spiritual work I’ve done, my body still re-members.  My body is telling me that I now need to do some physical ‘destructuring’ and ‘restructuring’ – to learn another way of being.  A more balanced and truer way of being.

So I say thank you to my throat for protecting me for so long, but it’s safe to let go now.  You can rest.  I spend the rest of the weekend surrounded by the courage and compassion of our little group of intrepid voice explorers as we each work to free the electrifying honesty of our voices.  We lie on mats stretching and moving and voicing all manner and shape of sounds.  Bringing breath to parts of our body that have long been starved of oxygen.  Here, in this small studio there are no ‘ugly’ or weird sounds.  We move about the room voicing and babbling and sometimes bringing forth our chosen song or monologue.  Seeing, hearing, breathing, exploring.

Noah leads a class in a destructuring exercise. Image from his website.

It’s the last exercise on the last day and once more the fear begins to slowly spread tentacles throughout my diaphram, threatening to squeeze my breath up into my chest.  A boa constrictor wrapping his way up to my throat.  We are sitting comfortably on the floor, some on cushions, some stretching out on yoga mats.  I take my water bottle and notebook and set my meditation cushion against the wall beside Steven my brave new yogi sitting friend.  I need to feel the support of the wall behind my back as Noah describes how to approach our last performance.  We each have fifteen minutes to explore the stage area.  We are in complete control right down to ordering our fellow class members to not pay attention to us if that’s what we want.  We choose when to be the intrepid voice explorer, listen to our bodies and step onto the stage when we feel the electric impulse to move.

I wait until there are only two more of us remain, moving before the fear can paralyze my muscles.  When I am performing in a play or on set acting in a film or TV series, I might have a flutter of butterflies flittering through my body but I never feel fear.  This, however, is entirely different flock of flying creatures because I can’t hide behind a character.

“No one pay attention to Terri!” Noah calls out as I unfold from my cushion and walk to the middle of the stage area.  I walk slowly and turn around to look at the bowed heads of rest of my classmates.  A couple are writing quietly in notebooks, several more rest their heads on their arms.  No one is looking at me.  I turn my back to them and breath deeply down into my belly, swinging my arms and jumping softly up and down.  I glance back at my still inattentive audience and am amazed at how relaxed and free I feel.

I stand facing them, close my eyes and start voicing, gliding up and down, becoming a roller coaster starting deep in my abdomen and soaring up to the roof of my soft palate.  I close my mouth and hum, imagining the sound vibrating behind my eyes, out the back and top of my head, the back of my throat, filling the satellite dish behind me and bouncing back out to the front of the room.  I play with a few lines of my monologue.

“Who can find peace in such extreme times

Ah, wretched man! Would I had died a maid”

“I want Gordon to pay attention to me.” I demand, and smile back at Gordon as he raises his head to watch me.  I notice a frisson of heightened excitement in my chest and bounce on my toes and shake my hands to let the feeling run through me rather than get stuck.  I try a few more lines.

“Ah, wretched man! Would I had died a maid

And never seen thee, never borne thee a son”

Before I know it I’ve spent fifteen minutes playing with my voice, my body and with the attention of my audience.  I have just the men pay attention, then just the women, sometimes all of them and sometimes none of them.  I ask them to see my heart, to find something in me to love, to find a piece of joy in me.  I crouch and whisper, I stand back and become loud.  My throat opens to allow the anger and love of Shakespeare’s Margaret to stream out.  I feel completely relaxed and at home.

“Can I work with you?” Noah asks, and with my happy “yes” he offers me small suggestions.  He brings my attention to when I lean forward at the waist for emphasis, which causes my voice to constrict, then to the slight forward thrust of my chin.

“You are the Queen, make them come to you,” he advises.

I move to the far back of the room and begin again, moving my hand to the base of my head to remind myself to keep pulled up and not thrust out.

“Who can be patient in such extremes?

Ah, wretched man! Would I had died a maid

And never seen thee, never borne thee a son,

Seeing thou hast proved so unnatural a father

Hath he deserved to lose his birthright thus?

Hadst thou but loved him half so well as I,

Or felt that pain which I did for him once,

Or nourish’d him as I did with my blood,

Thou wouldst have left thy dearest heart-blood there,

Rather than have that savage duke thine heir

And disinherited thine only son.”

I have no problem finding the breath for Shakespeare’s long stanzas, in fact I don’t even think about it, it just happens naturally.  I can feel my voice vibrating in my eyes and my throat remains open and relaxed right to the end of the angry, emotional speech.

“Wow,” Noah says simply, “what a powerful voice.”

I can feel the power of the vocal vibrations throughout my entire body as I performed my monologue.  It feels like release and complete freedom.  Release and freedom from that internal, oftentimes unconscious, internal Judge that constantly passes sentence on every word that comes out of my mouth.

This is what voice work does for me.  It offers liberation from a lifetime of constriction and brings breath to parts of my body that have been long starved of oxygen.  It loosens and dissolves the mask of protection that has become so a part of me that I’m not even aware of its tight restrictions until it’s gone.  It allows my truth to be spoken without impediment.  It offers a path to awareness and healing.

 

 

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Filed under Archetypes, Theatre, Voice

Building a House of Brick ~ Respecting My Boundaries

I’m sitting in my morning meditation, my wee pup, Bailey curled up on her cushion beside me.  It’s a peaceful morning and although the sun isn’t shining, it’s not raining either and the neighbour’s gardener hasn’t brought out his industrial strength leaf blower yet.  Nothing but my monkey brain to wrestle with this morning.  I smile as I realize I’m mind-writing this blog as I meditate.  My best writing quite often comes when I’m not writing.

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Just as soon as I become aware of how peaceful it is a loud rumble fills the room.  A semi-truck has driven through my living room right into my stillness room, the engine booming and reverberating until I can feel my blood thrumming with the noise.  Free radicals of noise pollution.  I hear Bailey perk up beside me.

I bring my awareness back to my breath, breathing in one of my favourite Blessings from St. Theresa of Avila.

May I be at peace

May my heart remain open

May I be aware of my true nature

May I be healed

May I be a source of healing to others

May I dwell in the breath of God.

Twice more I breath in the blessing.  My attention is pulled to the engine outside my house as it belches and coughs and seems to become even louder.  A tiny tentacle of realization slithers and sinks down into my depths, bringing with it frustration, annoyance and more than a little bit of apprehension.  I will my peace to come and my heart to remain open.  Instead, I lean forward and tilt open the lid of my zen meditation clock to see how many more minutes I ‘have’ to practice breathing in peace.  Four minutes to go…..stop or continue sitting….stop or continue….I lean forward again, press the off button and shut the lid.

Trampled boundaries.  Again.  I hate confrontation.  Which is the same thing as saying I hate standing up for myself.  Wow.  I’m sitting at my desk, typing these words as the realization of that filters through my being.  I don’t like standing up for myself.  No wonder my boundaries are being breached, even I don’t respect them!

I spend the day listening to the thrum of the generator, tempering my annoyance by turning my music up louder.  I say to myself, “This is good having a TV pilot filming here, maybe one day I will be cast in it.”  “You said you support the Arts here in Vancouver, well, here is a chance to show it!”  “It’s not that loud, you’re just being sensitive.  They have to park the generator somewhere!”

I argue back, “But you were very firm when they polled the neighbours that you were concerned about the noise of the generator.  You told the young PA that you had trouble sleeping and worked from home.”

I amaze myself at how easy I call on my shadow Victim archetype and slip automatically into “Woe is me, how can the big bad bully do this to me?”

These words are the sunshine that clears the fog away.  I had no idea I called in a low-lying fog to surround me whenever I felt my boundaries being assaulted.  A thick haze that obscures even the strongest wall.  Here I thought I was building a house of bricks to protect me from the big bad wolf, and instead I see that my house is built of straw.

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Night falls and still the generator rumbles, straw flying everywhere as the walls of my house disappear.  The wolf howls even louder through my bedroom window, as the filming continues into the early hours of the morning.  And still I keep silent, plugging my ears with small bits of squishy dense foam, which does nothing to block the booming base of my attacker.  It appears I’m willing to even compromise my health by sacrificing my much-needed restorative sleep, all to ‘keep the peace’ and not stand up for myself.  How much easier it is to see with the light on.

The weekend comes and the beast sleeps outside my door.  I walk with Bailey around the block, stepping over the thick, long, black wires that snake their way down the street from the film set to the hulking white truck parked opposite my driveway.  It turns out I’m not as excited about film sets and the accompanying entourage when I’m not actually a part of it; when it disrupts my ‘civilian’ life.

Sunday evening arrives, and with it the trepidation of the next morning’s waking of the fire-breathing dragon.  How this generator cur grows in my imagination and what power I give to it!

I’m having dinner with Lynn and my Victim is regaling her with all my illustrious “poor me” generator stories, pulling the blanket tighter and tighter around me as I speak.  She puts her fork down firmly and says, “No.  This is not right.  You told them not to park the generator truck where you could hear it and they did.  Someone dropped the ball and it’s not your fault they did.  Phone the production office and tell them to move it.”

My heart actually picks up speed as I hear the truth in these words, as my Victim steps out of the shadow and peers around into the light, knowing that I have to start mixing some concrete to lay the bricks to build a proper boundary.  One that doesn’t imprison me, but rather, frees me from the wounds suffered from weak boundaries.

Monday morning and I am awakened by the roar of the generator turning on.  I slip my feet into my red slippers, wrap myself in my fuzzy green bathrobe and head downstairs with Bailey.  Plugging the kettle in for tea, I look out the window at the pouring rain outside and the poor, orange-vested film crew carrying this and that from the grip truck.  They aren’t the enemy.  Neither is the grumbling, rumbling truck they’re walking past.

I pick up the phone and dial the film production office and ask to speak to Gordon S., the Locations Manager.  As I do so, I’m surprised at how easy it is.  I’ve stepped into my Femme Fatale Business Woman, donned my Ralph Lauren custom designed suit, twisted my hair into a perfect French roll, and am tapping my manicured fingernails against the table as I wait.  By the time Gordon S. is speaking to me, my spine is erect and my tone is firm as I explain the problem and my expectations for a solution.  As he backtracks and apologizes, dodging and weaving, I continue to stand firmly, yet kindly, in the conviction of my boundaries.  I hang up the phone, having received both his promise that the generator will be moved, as well as his personal cell phone number and that of his on-set assistant.  I’ve left him with my assurance that I will be following up.

The tea is seeping and I’m once more paddling about in my housecoat and slippers, but my spine still carries the vestiges of my Femme Fatale.  I’ve laid my first row of bricks and mortar against the huffing and puffing wolf.

Two hours later and a much smaller, quieter, off-truck generator is moved into place further down the street.  The rain has stopped for now and the bright sunshine of illumination warms the knots in my shoulders.  My story has changed and I have stepped out of the shadow and am animating the positive traits of the Victim.  She is the Guardian of my self-esteem, guarding and protecting the growth and awareness I am making.  My Victim is now a reminder of my own strength, of the power of my personal boundaries.

I will build no more houses of straw!

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Filed under Archetypes, Meditation, Spirituality

A Murder of Creativity

I’m sitting at the corner table in the Park Royal Village Starbucks sipping a tall, soy, no-water chai tea latte, listening a duet of “Baby it’s Cold Outside.”  I’m also sitting in front of a blank document, curser blinking, waiting for letters to be typed into words.  Words that have been written in my head for days.  Words that are supposed to be the conduit to bring my thoughts from the ephemeral world inside my head to the concrete world we can all see and touch.  It shouldn’t be so difficult.  I’m thinking thoughts all the time, whole words and even complete sentences!  Why are they never here when I’m sitting in front of my laptop or with pen and paper?  Where do they go, these little things with wings?  Where do they fly off to when they don’t want to be permanently etched onto paper or digitized into my laptop?  There is an entire flock of words soaring around up in the realm of my imagination, calling to each other, “Quick, come this way before you’re captured!  Follow your brethren and you’ll be safe!”

I imagine first a dark cloud of words, like the murder of crows that gather by the hundreds each evening east of the highway just past Boundary Way, cawing to each other as they circle and swirl in the sky, sharing the news of the day.  Hitchcock’s crows looking for Tippi Hendron, their dark wings disturbing the air as more and more of them join the birdley hurricane.  A force not of this world.  Us, down on the ground, humans walking, driving in their cars along the highway, going about our business, we are inconsequential.  For once, we are in their world….or is this where our two worlds meet?  The world of the crows and the world of the humans.  Am I the only one who looks up and watches?  Am I the only one who stops and wonders at the awe of the black dance in the twilight above us?  At the beauty and the grace of the word birds as they fly sky-poetry?  Or is it a short story?  Perhaps another chapter in a continuing saga, a never-ending novel, an ever-shifting memoir.

I imagine next a murmuration of many coloured starlings.  Red ones, yellow ones, orange, green, purple, pink, painting the sky.   Adverbs and Adjectives flitting about like hummingbirds and darting here and there like swallows.  Resplendent joy as they dance just out of reach, playing tag.

Sometimes, when I’m looking too hard, with my forehead bunched up in wrinkled concentration, I catch a glimpse of a word bird of many colours, a kaleidoscopic bird or a tie-dyed bird.  Metaphors and similes, that when splashed across the page in a wondrous technicolour luminocity, lift from the page and hug my heart.  The “just right” birds that fly onto my page when I’m not even looking, when I’m not even trying.  These are the touches of grace that every so often kiss my fingers and caress my soul and keep me coming back to the blinking cursor or empty page again and again and again.

But I didn’t intend to start out writing about birds, or even word birds at all.  See how they can fly about and disturb the best of intentions?  I want to sit down and begin the story of a great Warrior who did battle with the Demons of Betrayal.  I want to write about how this Warrior was thrust into the battle against her deepest wishes.  About how, when she found herself suddenly in the seering nuclear wartime winter, in the cold, wet, muddy trenches, her Spirit Warrior sent out the call to arms to all archetypes, and she became like the Amazon Warrior of legend.  For this is how legends are born and reborn again.

Red Bird of Betrayal ~ line drawing by Patrick O'Neill

Like all great legends and myths, the woman who becomes the Warrior is unconscious and unaware that she is waging a war.  She is sleeping when the call to arms is sounded and an army of archetypes gathers in the kairos, bringing with them all manner of weaponry and protection, guided and directed by her Spirit Warrior.

Two weeks later and I’m sitting in another Starbucks, surrounded by students and jazz music, waiting for the start of my son’s soccer game.  I smile at the girl across from me as she looks up from the text book she has spread open before her.  My Warrior is resting.  My Storyteller moves my fingers, typing the shared Truth, dancing in sideways through the door.  The red Bird of Betrayal drips blood as it flies overhead, small droplets of warrior wounds.  Creativity breaths in the Realm of Possibility, where the birds of inspiration nest and where all truths live.  Mine and his.

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February 8, 2012 · 5:13 pm

Jumping Into the Deep End of Conversations

I’m sitting with a cup of tea in the Monday night quiet, reading the latest Still Sunday post by the shining Annie Q.  My son Patrick sits at the kitchen table with his own cup of tea and his headphones on, listening to music as he works on his Art History homework.  Shared stillness.

I take a bite of my salty seaweed snack and read some wisdom words that Annie’s mama told her; thoughts and observations about relationships and the importance of communication.  Or rather, the importance of Important Communication.

“Make a commitment to the difficult conversations—not everything can be resolved at once but frequent kneading is necessary—and one may realize the life span of the relationship was barely a year and not seven.”

Kneading dough for ravioli....

I wonder; would I have heard this a life time ago, when I was seventeen years old, a Damsel in Distress meeting her rescuing Knight?  Would I have heard the meaning in these words short years later as I walked up the aisle to marry my Dark Knight?

Earlier today I’m sitting with my good friend of twenty-five years, drinking peppermint tea, looking at the view of the ocean and talking about relationships.  We have a shared parallel history; we both married and had children very young, we both married narcissistic men, we were both horribly betrayed.

Yet, we are both ultimately grateful for the gift that those betrayals brought us – an awakening and freedom.  An awakening from the illusion, delusion and chimera of our marriages and the freedom from the fantasy and the exhausting effort of maintaining those illusions.  A freedom to live in Truth.

We shake our heads at how hard we worked to imagine our husbands’ as we wanted them to be, as we believed them to be.  How difficult it was to see the glass ball of the illusion when we lived inside of it.  A snow globe filled with falling lies.

If not for my Dark Knight, I wouldn’t have my four children.  If not for the wounds my Dark Knight inflicted on me, I wouldn’t have fallen into my dark night of the soul and embarked on the most difficult and rewarding journey of my life.  I wouldn’t have embarked on my Life.

This blog is, in part, my commitment to the difficult conversations in life.  To not sweep aside the shattered shards of broken illusions, but, instead, to hold the blood covered pieces up to the light in examination and illumination.  To show my children what is possible in a time of crisis.  To show my children not to shy away from speaking the truth or initiating their own difficult conversations.

I am grateful for Annie Q’s mama.  For the gift of her daughter.  And for the gift of wisdom she imparts to her daughter.  I aspire to be that kind of mama to my own children.

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Filed under Archetypes, truth

Seeking my Lover…

*I started this the middle of December!…..rather than begin again, I decided to simply jump back in and carry on. :-)*

Caroline Myss Lover Archetype card. Light Attributes: Great passion and devotion. Unbridled appreciated of someone or something. Shadow Attributes: Obsessive passion that harms others. Self-destructive devotion.

This month I am tasked with animating my Lover archetype, in companion with my Seeker and Pioneer.  In October I made a Sacred Contract with myself to spend the next year working to pick open a fate lock in my life.  One that is keeping me locked in a lingering pattern of pain and suffering and away from a path of Destiny.

Working with my archetypal energies and with the support and guidance of my Soul Sisters, four much cherished women working on their own fate/destiny journey, I am using the method and manner I’ve spent many months learning from Caroline Myss at the CMED Institute.  I’m passionate about the process and the deep inner work.

“Take your Lover out for a walk, to places you’ve never been.” Jim advises me via phone from Los Angeles.  I like the suggestion, but as I look out my window and see the ever-present rain coming down, I pull my blue, fuzzy blanket closer around me.  I can feel the cold dampness seeping through the window right into my bones.  Jim has never been to the rainforest we call Vancouver.   It’s close to Christmas and my kids are home from school bringing with them their exuberant energy as well as bags of laundry, dirty dishes left by the sink and expectations of a stocked fridge and pantry.  I’m wondering where my Lover archetype will find the time to take solitary walks.  I’m wondering if my Lover archetype likes walking in the driving, freezing rain, because I’m not too sure I do.

Two days later I’m walking down streets I’ve only ever before driven.  I’m seeking new and different, simple pleasures through the eyes of my Lover archetype.  The wind picks up and I wrap my scarf tighter around my neck.  At least it isn’t raining.  Bailey, my little Yorkie mixed mutt is pulling me ahead with her long red leash, criss-crossing the narrow road from one tantalizing smell to another.  She ‘sees’ through her nose.  I’ve brought my camera with me, thinking it will force me to slow down and walk more mindfully.

I stop to take a picture of a wooden gate with a wrought iron curlicued design set into it, through which I can see the ocean and the tip of Point Grey beyond that.  Almost directly across the street is another gate, this one an older white picket framed between two dense bushes, the fence on either side missing several pickets and falling into disrepair.  I love them both equally, each one an invitation to a secret garden and my imagination is set free to make-believe entire new worlds beyond.

I’m standing in front of the falling-down white, picket fence, my mind full of English countryside and orphans and faeries and my fingers fumbling to pull my gloves back on, when I almost drop my camera.  Bailey is pulling at the leash and nearly tugs it out of my hands along with my camera; something she’s been doing the entire walk and my frustration is growing.  How can I walk slowly and mindfully, taking the time to notice new, simple pleasures if she keeps tugging me to go faster!  Plus my hands are getting colder and colder every time I take my gloves off to take a picture.  And my hair keep blowing across my face and sticking to the lip-gloss I put on to keep my lips from drying out in the wind.

A car honks.  I call Bailey back to my side of the road and smile at the woman in the blue Volvo station wagon as she drives slowly past.  She smiles back at me and waves her fingers off the steering wheel as she passes.  Something inside me softens and releases as we share a smiling connection.  Patience.

The wind picks up some leaves and brushes a new, enticing scent along Bailey’s nose.  Her Yoda ears perk up and she’s once again trotting off, following the leaf down the road.  I smile again, tuck my camera into my pocket and let my wise, furry four-legged joy lead the way.  I allow the Grace of surrender to soften my mind’s tight control over how I think this walk ‘should’ go and instead embrace, with gratitude, what IS happening.  Now I’m actually seeing instead of looking.

Two weeks later I’m lying on the floor by the fire at my sister, Shari’s, house, warming my back after spending the day cross-country skiing with my brother and his family.  I’m alone with my book in the living room, but I’m surrounded by love.  I listen to the gathering in the kitchen as Shari and my sister-in-law, Amy, chop the vegetables that will go into the vegan spaghetti sauce.  My mom, brother and a couple of the older cousins sip wine and visit, sharing about their day.  A roar of laughter tumbles up the stairs.  My five-year old nephew, Fyn, has just scored in a rousing game of knee-hockey with his older cousins.

The Lover Archetype is all around me and I think back to my moments of frustration, wondering how I could possibly find the time to animate the Lover within me during such a busy month.  I chuckle to myself as Bailey trots over and drops her new squeaky toy onto my head.

It’s not about finding the time to animate the Lover Archetype; it’s about recognizing, with gratitude, the many wonderful, simple pleasures that already surround me every day.  I don’t have to seek the Lover within, I simply have to allow her to see.  Surrendering to the joy in the moment, instead of looking beyond to what hasn’t happened yet.  Surrendering to Now….with Gratitude.

My own little Yoda, Bailey

 I could not lie anymore so I started to call my dog “God.”

First he looked

confused,

then he started smiling, then he even
danced.

I kept at it:  now he doesn’t even
bite.

I am wondering if this
might work on
people?

Tukaram

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Filed under Archetypes, Sacred Contract, Spirituality

I Am A Warrior Woman!

I am a Warrior Woman.

I’m on the phone with my spiritual director and we’re speaking the language of archetypes, a language I’m learning and a language in which Jim is both highly gifted and knowledgeable.  I’m becoming more fluent but have SO much more to learn, especially when it comes to speaking archetypically about my own life.  I am immersing myself in the world of archetypes and myths as a way of becoming more conscious and aware of the many different personalities that live within me.  I yearn to discover “who” is speaking and why.

In a blue folder on the desk beside me lays a certificate from the CMED Institute that certifies that I have “Completed the Sacred Contracts Program and Has Met all Academic Requirements Set Forth by the CMED Institute to Qualify as an Archetypal Consultant.”  Even after seven months of work and research at home and three VERY intensive, very long four-day classroom workshops, I feel like a two-year old still learning to speak.  The only people to whom I’ll be consulting in the near future will be myself and the other four members of my group, but I’m incredibly excited and energized to be learning this new language!

My phone crackles and buzzes and Jim’s voice cuts out once again.  I give up trying to record the call and take the phone off “speaker” and press it to my ear.  Jim’s voice now comes through loud and clear and I pick up a pen to begin madly scribbling notes to myself.  I don’t want to miss a word of his incredible guidance and knowledge.  I’m devoting the next twelve months to meticulously and mindfully release a fate lock in my life and allow space for the threads of destiny to begin weaving a new pattern of energy and grace.  I’m deep in the muddy muck of fate and have called Jim to help me find the tools to scrape the gumbo that’s sucking me in place and keeping me stuck.

I give Jim the Cole’s notes of my life, of the wounds that are wrapped around my fate lock.  I am working to release the pattern of pain and suffering stemming from my husband’s and the Other Woman’s betrayal and replacing it with a Love and a deep knowledge of my self worth.  I have done much and worked hard to heal but I still feel the hooks of a burr rubbing against me.  In healing myself, I offer healing to all other women who have been so wounded.  We are all interconnected and what is in the one is in the whole.

I’ve finished outlining to Jim the story of my blind-sided hit and the ensuing destruction.  I’ve skimmed over the lengthy, stressful, highly complicated settlement negotiations that have just recently been concluded five long years after the end of my marriage.

I finish speaking and without pause I hear Jim exclaim, “What a worthy woman!”

Immediately the rich meaning of those words fill me and sink down deep into my being, grounding me in the truth I haven’t been able to see or feel.  Tears of knowing fill my eyes as the worthy energy vibrates through every cell.  I am worthy.  I am a worthy woman.  I am seeing through a new clarity of knowledge.

When the tsunami of the knowledge of my husband’s betrayal bashed against me I was hit hard with a feeling of humiliation and all the detritus that comes with that.  I am filled with the very visceral perception of the meaning of that word and the ever expansive wounding it causes.  It is a scatter bomb, tearing through tissue and burying little landmines in hidden places in my psyche.  Long after the initial destruction has occurred, I’m still finding the cracks in the foundation of my Self.

I am a Warrior come back from a long, dark, warring night and I share my stories with you.  I pull back my Warrior armor and show you my healed wounds and point to the injuries still seeping, still healing.  Beneath my Warrior armor lives a Wounded Healer.

Be careful when reading these words, be careful not to infer meaning where there is none.  A Wounded Healer is a healer who has been initiated into her power by way of a wounding, and it is with the mindful and active healing of these wounds that the healing power grows.  A deeply empowered and powerful Wounded Healer is one who has been greatly injured (physically and/or psychically) and who has peeled back the scabs time and time again to release the pus of toxins held within.

My Wounded Healer speaks through the voice of my Warrior, telling the stories of my wounds so that you may find the wounds within you; so that you may begin the process of healing.  I shed my armor and show you my vulnerable under belly, not because I am unhealed, not because I am still wounded – but because I AM healed, because the wounds have given me the great gift of becoming a Wounded Healer and a Warrior Woman.  The injuries remaining are not inconsequential, but I am actively healing them, I am living my healing.  I invite you to live yours.

I am a Warrior Woman and I am Worthy!

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Filed under Archetypes, Sacred Contract

A City Defined by Thugs ~ Finding the Bully Within Me

Massive mob of people surrounding car engulfed in flames. Huge cloud of black smoke rising. I’m sitting at home manning facebook and twitter on my laptop while the breaking news on TV flashes images of burning cars and a raging riotous mob in the downtown streets of my beautiful city of Vancouver.  Echoes of 1994 all over again, only worse.  I am disgusted, disheartened and more than slightly worried.

My two sons are “over the bridge” having gone downtown to watch game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals on the big screen in front of the CBC building on Hamilton Street.  The last I heard from them was at the end of the first period; a quick phone call telling me they were heading to watch the game at their sister’s place a couple of blocks away.  Today is their 22nd birthday, a day meant for celebration, not for roving riots of punk thugs and their accompanying complicit silent observers.

I send a carefully worded mother text asking where they are and telling them to be aware and to be careful.  Fifteen minutes later I’m rewarded with a reply, they’re safe in a bar in Yaletown.  Inside and safe from the mob.  For now.  My mother worry won’t settle down until they’re safely back home on this side of the Lion’s Gate Bridge, however.

There is a flurry of facebook updates among my friends as well as in my twitter stream -social media once again leading the pack on the frontline of breaking news.  It’s also the platform to share our absolute and complete disgust at what’s happening within our city.  I am drawn into the discussion when fear and speculation turn into generalities and judgments.  The need to understand the apparent inexplicable is an over-riding human characteristic.

Blue jean's clad thug kicks the shield of the riot police.

My friend Kristina posts an update, “What happened, what’s going on, that a generation of young men are looting and creating violence? That is all who I see all over downtown tonight. Is this how far we have come? Are these the leaders of tomorrow?”

Within minutes I reply back to her, “We must remember that there are scores more of other young men who did not partake in the disgusting display of narcissistic destruction – who are just as dismayed as their elders…..I applaud each and every one of them. They are the leaders of tomorrow.”  I am thinking of my two sons and the thousands more like them who would never deign to act with such selfish disregard for human life and property.

With the bridges now closed by the police, my two boys walk well clear of the thinning downtown drunken mob to the Waterfront station and catch the seabus to the North Shore.  Within an hour they are walking in the front door, quiet and subdued, having witnessed first-hand the dark shadow of the bully archetype.

I spend a restless night with interrupted sleep and awake in the morning neither rested nor restful.  This morning, more than any other, I head to my yoga class without a clear intention but with a very strong need.  A need to find calm through the physical practice of mindful hatha poses.

I think of my sleeping sons as I settle myself onto my yoga mat and as we begin our morning meditation my intention streams through with strong clarity.  Compassion.  I dedicate this morning’s yoga practice to forgiveness and compassion towards those who have destroyed so much and hurt so many.  As my yoga teacher, Chris, says, “It matters where we put our energy.”  And I choose to put my energy into cultivating compassion and kindness.  I choose to find joy in this world.  To shine a light into the darkness that overtook our city last night.

  I’m driving home, replenished and relaxed and am listening to the CBC radio as they discuss the whys and wherefores of what will forever be known as the 2011 Vancouver Riot.  I smile as the announcer speaks of the hundreds of volunteers who brought brooms and garbage bags in the early morning and joined the city sanitation department in cleaning up and reclaiming our city.

Caroline Myss says in describing the Bully/Thug Archetype that “symbolically, our phsycial bodies can “bully” our spirits…” and that “underneath a bully is a coward trying to keep others from discovering his true identity.” (Which is more than slightly ironic given the mass amount of cell phone documenting going on last night.)

The Shadow attribute of the Bully was shown only too vividly, in all it’s dark thunderous colours last night in the smashing and burning of cars, in the broken storefronts, in the looting and violence.  It was shown in a more subtle and perhaps nefarious manner in the “mob mentality” of the onlookers who watched silently and sometimes cheering as the active thugs smashed, crashed and burned.  To stand by, cell phone outstretched and do nothing is to act in accord with the Bully.  Silence and inaction in the face of wrong doing puts you in the same camp as those doing the wrong.  You are complicit in the crime.

I’m contemplating thugs and bullies as I’m driving along the Upper Levels highway, feeling complacent in my existential distance from them.  A light blue van speeds by on my left and comes to hug the bumper of the car in front of her.  Tailgating so closely that it would be impossible to stop in the event of a sudden braking.  “What a bully,” I think to myself.

Suddenly I’m aware of every time the Bully archetype has manifested its shadow side in my behaviour.  The times I have acted with impatience while driving.  The times when my defensive city driving has boarded on intimidation driving.  At once my heart fills with gratitude towards last night’s bullies and thugs for holding the mirror up to myself.  Who am I to judge?

My friend Lynn writes on my facebook wall, “how unbelievably sad this morning!! As my lovely daughter said “what’s sad is that people are abusing our freedom”…..this was the evening after we spent dinner with William who is now on his way back to the Sudan to make a difference and to empower people. Many of those people have never experienced freedom…..sigh….my heart is truly heavy!”

I want to say to Lynn to find the gift that last night’s thugs left us.  The chance to look at the Bully within each of us; to become conscious of even the most subtle wisp of shadow smoke that filters through our lives.

I want to say to Lynn to cultivate buoyant joy and to be a harbinger of happiness to those around her.  It is with joy and lightness of being that the dark shadow that roared through Vancouver and into our souls will be swept away.  Fill your heart with light and let that shine through, for we are surely seeing the Light attribute of the Bully archetype glowing with every sweep of every broom held in this morning’s clean-up.  Our spirit is stronger than we think.

Caroline Myss says “the archetype of the Bully manifests the core truth that the spirit is always stronger than the body.”   That is the core truth.  The spirit is stronger than the physical manifestation of the shadow.

As Chris Clancy said in ending our yoga class this morning, “We must be brave enough to allow our light to shine.”  And remember, it matters where we put our energy.

And hold on to the truth that these thugs that infiltrated our streets, our hearts and our spirits will be caught and punished.  Apparently these Bullies were also without brains as they committed crimes in front of hundreds of facebooking, tweeting and you-tubing cell phone filmmakers.  Their faces and actions caught and uploaded for all the world and the Vancouver Police Department to see.

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Filed under Archetypes, forgiveness, Spirituality