Transformation Dolls

1915565_1159057730163_117882_nI started making Transformation Dolls years ago, during the original incarnation of The Conspiracy of Blessings. I noticed that many of the people who requested blessings were women in the midst of transformation – divorces, illnesses, job changes, etc. I was inspired to create something that would honor their process and bless them during the ups and downs of their journey.

If you’re in the midst of transformation and would like a blessing on your journey, private message me through the Facebook page to request one.

 

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Let Me Tell You About the Love of My Life

946826_10200456737015402_1774682442_nA significant aspect of my spiritual practice as a Radical Mystic is conscious relationship. I believe God is in everyone. I use relationship as a way to deepen my experience of the Sacred in All of Life and deep, abiding love. I also use it to deepen my spiritual and psycho-emotional growth.

One of my radical relationships is with my partner, Eros.

I spent 20 years desperately seeking a partner who would match my capacities for love, intimacy, communication, and conscious evolution. Someone who would share love and relationship as a spiritual practice, one that connects us to the Sacred and provides the safety in which to bare our wounds and illuminate our shadows so that we can heal and grow. Someone who would be a partner in every way. I experienced a lot of heartache in that search and nearly gave up.

I met Eros 7 years ago this Winter. Friends brought him into the original formation of The Impropriety Society and he was our lead DJ for every single event thereafter. His dedication to his work and to our organization was one of our greatest assets.

I felt Magic with him the first time we met. He had a partner, but they had an open relationship of sorts, so I thought I had a chance at something. I flirted with him, flirted with all the sexy femme strength I could muster, but he never gave me more than a kiss. Not until after his relationship ended three years later. I learned after we started dating that he didn’t pursue other relationships because all of his energy went into helping his addict girlfriend survive.

We hooked up at our first Imps event following their break up. It was early morning, when things were slowing down. He and I locked eyes as I danced in front of the DJ table. I started dancing for him. He took a break and took me to a bed. We had incredible sex, and a ton of laughter, before we had a conversation. It was just that kind of Magic.

I was actively exploring polyamory as a single person at the time we started dating. He was one of several lovers I was exploring possibilities with. Over time the others fell away, until just he and one other remained. I faltered for a bit and stopped dating Eros in order to focus on the other connection, a crazy D/s power exchange that ultimately broke me open in hard, painful and necessary ways. Eros continued coming over for dinner and movies, because we really liked each other’s company. When my heart was crushed by my dominant few months later, Eros was there to help me pick up the pieces. We shifted back into being lovers. It was fun, comfortable and tender, and we had lots of remarkable sex.

But I wasn’t totally in it. I didn’t think it was going to last. I thought Eros was too much into partying and not enough into conscious evolution. I didn’t realize at the time just how much I had shut down after being crushed by so many friends and lovers during my time with the Imps. I was over being vulnerable and generous and giving myself away. I didn’t believe I would find the kind of partner I had dreamed of since my teens. And I didn’t recognize what I had in Eros.

Until we got pregnant and had the baby that we share with the Mamas. He moved in with me and took care of me best he could during the pregnancy, even though it was something he had never wanted and was deeply frightened of. Then he held me as I grieved leaving our son in another city with the Mamas. During all this time he loved and supported my teenage daughter as she transitioned into adulthood.

He showed up.
Every single day no matter what came.

That is a really big deal, because there are a lot of men who don’t show up for their families. There are a lot of men who turn their back on their children. Until Eros, that was the only reality I knew as a daughter, as a mother, and as a wife. He shows up for me, and our son, and my children that are not his, and our son’s Mamas.

He didn’t just show up. He kept trying to do better and be better when things went awry. It turns out he’s fully committed to conscious growth and becoming a more loving person, and supporting me in doing the same.

He forgave me when I was triggered and fought with him. He forgave me when I wouldn’t let him into my heart. He forgave me when I was cranky and critical and controlling about our home space. He didn’t just keep loving me, he kept choosing me. No one has done that before. I have a whole sad story in my past about not being chosen – by my mom, by my multiple fathers, by many lovers.

Eros chooses me. That’s the basis of long term relationship. Choosing each other over and over again as life changes our individual and collective shapes.

More importantly, he chooses Us. The Us that includes my kids that came before him and the child we made together and the Mamas and our partner Camille and all the others we are drawing into our circle of belonging in the present and future.

After living hundreds of miles apart for 6 months, our love for each other has deepened. And inspired us to take greater care with each other because we really appreciate what we have now that we’re together again. We are disarming triggers and learning how to communicate through hard things with kindness and compassion, choosing responses instead of reactions. We are more accepting of the funny quirks and little annoyances. We are kind and affectionate on purpose, every day. We are really listening to each other and supporting each others’ dreams. We are dreaming together – of the home we’ll share, of the community we’ll build, of the experiences we’ll seek out, of the travelling we’ll do.

I am grateful and excited that I get to marry this man one day. We haven’t set a date yet. I need an income and we need to move into our house first. We are hoping for next year. We had originally hoped for Spring, but we never imagined it would take this long for me to find work. So we wait. But it doesn’t really matter when a wedding happens. I don’t need a ring on my finger to know that Eros will keep choosing me and showing up for me. It’s who he is. The Love of My Life.

Crazy Amazing Abundance

For someone who is unemployed and poorer than I’ve ever been as an individual, I have some crazy amazing abundance in my life. Not only are ALL of my material and emotional needs met, but I get the perfect amount of extra that helps keep my soul fed (the occasional Fleur de Sel Dark Caramel mocha (heaven on my tongue!), soft scarves to keep me warm, books I can learn from, art supplies for creative blessings I can give away, cultural experiences to inspire me, a website for my new project, essential items of stylish clothing for interviews/work, and my daughter home for x-mas).

I realize as I am writing this that I feel like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life (yes, I am one of those sentimental people who watches it every year, because it’s all about generosity and community and those are my favorite things about being human). After 20+ years of giving all of myself to my family and community, I am being held in love and generosity in ways I would have never even thought to wish for.

And this is probably why I’m still unemployed. Because I NEED to experience this. I need to experience being loved without having to earn it or work to deserve it in some way. I need to experience the reciprocity of generosity. I need to fill up every cell of my being with this rocket fuel of love so that when I am ready, I can go back out into the world in and serve in even bigger (and healthier!) ways. What my family is giving me in these first months in Portland is fueling new visions and inspirations of ways I can contribute to my new community as an artist, a community builder, and an activist.

I can imagine the flame of this love we are living spreading to each person we touch as individuals and as a tribe. I imagine our Fire sparking other Fires, communities of people coming together with the intention to be real and hold each other in all the complexities of our humanness. I imagine more alternative families, chosen families and tribes. I imagine various sorts of intentional communities that provide the belonging, support and resource sharing that allows everyone in the community to thrive. I imagine networks of communities that are prepared to step in to support one another if infrastructure falls apart in our cities and towns. I imagine our children, disabled, elders and dying being honored and included for their places in the community and cared for with compassion. Every single one of them.

I imagine places where we can speak the truth about injustice and actually listen to each other. I imagine restorative justice. I imagine places where we practice ways to nurture connection and empathy. I imagine places where we figure out how to include EVERYONE – no matter their physical, intellectual, emotional or other differences.

As my tribe holds me in this uncertain and culturally defined “unproductive/unsuccessful” place, they are actually putting me back together, healing me in the deepest possible ways, and making me whole. My intuition tells me that when I finally burst out of this cocoon, it’s going to be a blazing revelation. I have returned from the Heroine’s journey and I am bringing the story of my transformation back to my community. I descended into the Underworld and not only survived some gnarly emotional landscapes, but turned every single one of them into gardens of love and beauty. I have something to share about how to navigate those dark, chaotic places. And how to rise from the ashes. And not just how to navigate the process of transformation as individuals, but also how to hold each other as we travel through it.

My point is that this abundance I am experiencing is just going to keep growing, far beyond me and us. As we share with each other, we are exponentially growing the goodness we share out in the world with others. The people we work with. The people we socialize with. The people we circle with.

I am humbled and my heart is exploding with gratitude for being one link in the spectacular chain of love and generosity that grows with each new connection.

P.S. I think I just wrote the beginnings of a manifesto for the project that I’m incubating. And the beginnings of a proposal for a session at a conference-in-the-form-of-a-summer-camp that I want to attend next year. That’s awesome! That’s more abundance from you to me! Thank you for listening and being a link in the chain with me!

We

We are like a religion.
We, the tired ones. We,
the middle of the night ones.
We, the howl at the moon ones.
We, the aching.
Our bodies are like prayers,
like a pair of hands held out,
waiting for the rain
to come and fill them.
We, these burned bridges.
We, these altars.

If God is gone, then we are our own churches.

We, the abandoned. We,
the holy, arching like
the gates of heaven, finding
forgiveness where we used
to find nothing.

If God is gone, then maybe he
has hidden the light inside of us.

We, the hallelujahs.
We, the amens and the
amends.
We, the dirges.
We, the absolutions. ”
— Caitlyn Siehl, We

Shaping My Art – Grace Hearts and Transformation Dolls

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Transformation Doll and Grace Hearts Progress –                                                       Sewn, Stuffed and Awaiting Embellishment

“All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.” J.L. Borges

It seems I am still struggling to find the words and/or the motivation to write. Instead I have been hand-sewing like a mother fucker. Hand-sewing blessings for others nurtures life-sustaining needs in me – the need for productivity (I’m visibly accomplishing something more than keeping the house clean in my long unemployment), the need for creativity (I am making with my hands and piecing together unique items based on intuition and aesthetic), and the need for emotional cleansing (I am transmuting my feelings of sadness, frustration and helplessness into beauty, joy and love).

For the last 11 days I have been spending nearly every waking hour with my fingers pushing and pulling a needle through fabric. I am shaping my art – hand sewn Transformation Dolls and the new Grace Hearts – from my challenging emotions, both past and present. As I try to establish my place in Portland, I am still processing situations that injured my heart over the last six years, especially in regards to work and community building. Then there is the shame that is growing in me for being unable to find work in 8 months, for repeatedly making it to 2nd or 3rd place yet never chosen. It’s actually the first time I’ve experienced anything that feels like failure.

I start with the raw materials of confusion, rejection, humiliation, and betrayal. Through my hands the needle, threads, fabrics and beads transform my pain into beautiful blessings of generosity and sparkling light. I am healing myself, one literal stitch at a time. I am sharing my healing with others, hoping to touch their life journeys with my love and gratitude for all that I do have.

I am being held and financially supported by my special family. I am living in a home full of love and a sense of belonging. I am heard and seen and trusted and appreciated for all that I am. And I am blessed over and over again by friends and family so that I don’t miss out on anything that really matters in life (like a winter coat and having my daughter home for Christmas and seeing Amanda Palmer when she stopped in Portland for her book tour earlier this month).

Grace Heart I Made For Amanda Palmer

Grace Heart I Made For Amanda Palmer

I hope that by sharing the abundance I find when I am financially poorer than I have ever been and feeling like a failure for the first time in my life, that I can help others see the blessings that abound in their lives. If you are reading this as you sit in a home with food in your refrigerator, if you have the time and tools for digital entertainment, you are actually one of the richest people in the world. If you have one or more people in your life that you know have your back when the shit goes down, you have an emotional abundance that many others never know.

We are blessed, it’s merely a matter of where we put our attention.
Is your attention on your abundance or your scarcity?

I am continually striving to turn my heart and mind towards abundance. While the Transformation Dolls are already promised, I am brainstorming ideas for what to do with all the Grace Hearts I am making. Holiday gifts? Leave them as random acts of creative kindness around town? Give them in appreciation to the staff of the local domestic violence shelter? Do you have an idea?

Transformation Dolls and Grace Hearts Ready to be Sewn Together

Transformation Dolls and Grace Hearts Ready to be Sewn Together

A Spontaneous Reflection on Community

This week brought another final interview and another rejection. I could easily slip back into frustration and insecurity. It’s sitting there in the background, that bit of darkness. But when I look around me, at the other ways the Universe is providing, all I feel is love and gratitude.

On the same day I was rejected last week, my partner got an under the table job on Saturdays slinging pastries at a Farmer’s Market and our housemate added another day to her bagel slinging Market job (same employer), so more money is coming in, alleviating the stress of adding another person to the household. The other housemate’s college financial aid came in so we have a buffer if we need it. We’d like to save it for a deposit on a house, but it’s there if things get rough. And my partner has an interview with the bakery after Market tomorrow for a possible full-time baking job. He was treated pretty crappy by his last two employers, so it’d be super awesome for him to get this opportunity with people we already know we like. And he already made a DJ connection, so he has a gig next Monday night. While my right fit is taking it’s sweet time in coming, my partner is already making active connections for work and for his art.

I am amazed at positive changes that are happening in our relationships as we finally learn how to live all together, as couples and as a collective. We are navigating road bumps imperfectly, but with increasing amounts of grace and forgiveness. We are all looking at our stuff and willing to work on healing and growth. I love them all more than ever. This is the (mostly) healthy, interdependent and empowering life partnership that I’ve been craving all my life.

I read this week about how loneliness is killing us and how we need villages to thrive and recognized even more profoundly the gift I have in my life with my family and community. Beyond our household of two co-parenting couples, we started a Fire Tribe in Portland with our other platonic-life-partner, a friend who was in our Fire Tribe in Humboldt, and two Portlanders new to our tribe (8 total). Having Fire in my life again makes my heart incredibly happy. It’s an active community building practice, which is pure bliss for me.

What is Fire you ask? We gather around the Fire on a regular basis to bring intentional depth to our relationship as a community. The original fire met every Sunday between May and September for two years in a row, formed from 20-30 volunteers in our sex-positive community, The Impropriety Society. Everyone contributes something to eat, drink and/or burn, as well as takes responsibility for cleaning up after themselves. All first timers introduce themselves to the Fire with an offering of some kind (story, poem, song, etc.), as the Fire is the one consistent presence at every gathering. We often focus on an intention for conversation, sometimes based on spiritual holidays, sometimes driven by someone’s story or someone’s need to share. One fire was a mini-Burning Man (the man constructed on the spot was rather ingenious). A couple of fires involved boisterous celebration and topless dancing. Most Fires involved a lot of laughter. Some involved a lot of tears. Every fire was different, and yet it was always a space to feel connected. It was a place where we felt like we belonged. Do you know how important that is? The sense of belonging? It’s really fucking important. It literally makes or breaks people.

Intentional conversation is a practice we are striving to deepen in this Portland version of Fire. As well as the ability to hold space for each other’s process and create a safe container for challenges to be addressed, especially between members of the tribe. We want to take community building deeper than we’ve taken it before. We desire to be vulnerable with each other in ways we haven’t been before, which is crazy to imagine with a bunch of people who have already experienced so much intensity together (as is the nature of a community based in sharing sexual expression and relationship).

This time we are choosing each other from the start and choosing how we grow the circle. We aren’t interested in exclusion. We are interested in shared values. This isn’t a time to party. Some of us drink and some smoke weed. But never in excess at Fire. We are agreeing to be conscious of the energy and presence we bring to the Fire. We are striving to bring all of ourselves to each other. No masks. No defenses. No distractions. Just love. Love, love and more love. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

Beyond the personal experience of belonging, I am excited because I see opportunities to practice what I’ve been learning about facilitating circles and community conversation. I’ve been researching community building on and off my entire adult life. The Imps were my first experiment in bringing some of what I learned to life, but it had limitations because not everyone involved was interested in consciousness and depth and the “woo.” This time my community is based in a sense of love, family, and a shared desire to grow together as individuals and a collective. Even the one atheist in our midst desires to go deeper in this way and respects everyone else’s perspective, as we respect hers.

My idea of community is sharing our lives and taking care of each other. Healthy interdependence. There is the kind of intentional community that shares life through sharing a home. And there is the kind that shares life through making a commitment to regularly share time, food, conversation, heart and life transitions with each other. We celebrate each other’s joys and we grieve for each others losses. We increase our experience of abundance, and lessen our stress, by sharing resources of every kind. We show up for each other. We all know, down to our bones, that someone has our back, no matter what comes. People used to get this from extended families of origin, but that is rare now. Many of us have to build our families and tribes. We get to choose who shares this life with us and how deep we’re willing to go together.

Building and nurturing these relationships is work, but it is a work of the heart that brings more rewards than we can possibly imagine before experiencing it. I know because with all my research, I only experienced dysfunctional and violent communities when I was young. While my intellect knew something else was possible, my heart had no clue it could be like this. And we’ve only begun this chapter. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Considering Values and Integrity in Our Culture

Integrity Word CloudAs I deepen my practice of radical mysticism, I am spending a lot of time thinking about values. I am intrigued at how the Universe is bringing serendipities into my life that are also talking about values. Especially integrity.

Integrity – the alignment of values, words and actions. Being in complete integrity is making every choice in your life based on your core values.

What does integrity look like? It’s about the choices you make in every aspect of your life. It’s about where you put your time, your energy, and your resources. It’s about your actions reflecting your words and vice versa. When your words and your actions don’t match, you are out of integrity.

Do you value the environment? Then you make choices, big and small, that put the environment over convenience. Do you value family? Then you make your family your priority for quality time and energy rather than work, addictions, or distractions. Do you value community? Then you build community through your words and your actions in everyday life rather than isolate yourself out of fear or tear people down. Do you value your creativity? Then you commit time and and energy to your art rather than give into resistance and distraction. Do you value human life? Then you give your money and resources to organizations and business that treat humans well – whether employees, local communities, or consumers – and you refuse to give to those who don’t. Do you value women? Then you support organizations and businesses that honor women and what they have to offer and refuse to engage with the ones that don’t.

Living in full integrity has got to be one of the hardest things to do in life! We are wired for what’s easy and convenient. It’s easier to take the plastic bag at the grocery store than to remember to bring a reusable bag. We are also wired to go where everyone else is going. Choosing integrity is rarely a popular choice in our culture today. We are surrounded by lack of integrity and the violation of all kinds of ethics on a daily basis. Our leaders, politicians and corporations are violating ethics. Our most popular tv shows are all about the biggest ethical violations possible – murder and sexual assault.

Which is why it makes me really happy to see a real conversation about integrity on a mainstream television show, Madam Secretary. It’s a new show on CBS with Tea Leoni as a non-politician who is chosen to be Secretary of State. I am very picky about what I watch on television. I appreciate when it is used as an artform that can address important issues in our culture, put much needed stories into the conversation, and inspire people to think critically. We need stories of healthy and strong women leaders in our cultural narrative. And we need stories where people have ethical crisis, especially in relationship to politics, where ethics hardly exist.

On the most recent episode, the Secretary of State asked her husband, a religions professor, to violate his integrity and ethics for the good of saving another person’s life in a political situation. He refused. He was angry with her for even asking, when in an earlier scene she said that a strong moral compass was a huge turn on (indeed it is!). He told her to find another way, and she did, one that did not violate ethics. That is a very unusual story line for mainstream media of any kind!

Another place I’m seeing a conversation about values and integrity is at Ello, the new social network. Their founders and funders seem to be interested in holding to certain values – like being free of advertising and feed manipulation. Which is why I’m devoting most of my online time there. Like not making the users a product, but rather selling a product to the users. If I am to be in integrity with my own values, I need to make a conscious decision about where I spend my time and energy online. My time and energy is valuable. I can either click buttons that make Facebook advertising money, or I can participate in community on Ello. I can use my value as a social networking consumer to make money for big corporations, or build up independent artists and their body of work, whether it’s creative, tech, or something else. I want to believe that there are businesses of all kinds that have integrity and reflect their core values in how they interact with the world.

We need more stories about integrity in our culture, so that more of us will believe it’s possible. We need to create a new cultural narrative around integrity and how living from our values creates vitality and meaning in our lives. Which is why it’s become so important to me to consider values in everything. I am experiencing my most vibrant, healthy and meaningful life because of my values. Practicing integrity and becoming conscious of where it’s been absent has made me a happier person.

Am I in 100% integrity every single moment of my life? No. I have places where I’m still working on it. Mostly as a consumer and in relationship to myself and my body. It’s easier to me to maintain my integrity when it impacts others than it is when it only impacts me. I imagine that’s true for many of us.

To consider: In what ways do you practice having integrity? In what ways are you out of your integrity? Where in your life are your values and words not matching your actions?

God’s Grief – Poem by Ellen Bass

Great parent
who must have started out
with such high hopes.
What magnitude of suffering,
the immensity of guilt,
the staggering despair.
A mind the size of the sun,
burning with longing,
a heart huge as a gray whale
breaching, streaming
seawater against the pale sky.
Man god or beast god,
god that breathes in every pleated leaf,
throat sac of frog, pinfeather and shaft—
god of plutonium and penicillin, drunk
sleeping on the subway grate,
god of Joan of Arc, god of Crazy Horse,
Lady Day, bringing us to our knees,
god of Houdini with hands
like a river, of Einstein, regret
running thick in his veins,
god of Stalin, god of Somoza,
god of the long march,
the Trail of Tears,
the trains,
god of Allende and god of Tookie,
the strawberry picker, fire in his back,
god of midnight, god of winter,
god of rouged children sold
with a week’s lodging
and airfare to Thailand,
god in trouble, god at the end of his rope—
sleepless, helpless—
desperate god, frantic god, whale heart
lost in the shallows, beached
on the sand, parched, blistered, crushed
by gravity’s massive weight.

Ellen Bass

Mysticism is An Insight Seeking Process

“Mystical illumination is interpreted as a central visionary experience in a psychological and behavioural process that results in the resolution of a personal or religious problem. This factual, minimal interpretation depicts mysticism as an extreme and intense form of the insight seeking process that goes into activities such as solving theoretical problems or developing new inventions.” James R Horn

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