“Care of the soul is not solving the puzzle of life; quite the opposite, it is an appreciation of the paradoxical mysteries that blend light and darkness into the grandeur of what human life and culture can be.”
“We can be the curates or curators of our own souls, an idea that implies an inner priesthood and a personal religion.”
In preparation for memoir writing, I’ve been visiting my past, seeking out the important influences on who I’ve become. I’m on a mission, to figure out who I am beyond mother, lover, and nonprofit/volunteer leader.
What I know about seeking out the deepest parts of myself is that it requires a seduction of the soul. I need to start by seeking out those things that light me up – the tiny things, the everyday things that make life sparkle no matter what the day holds. I learned this years ago from Thomas Moore. His books were instrumental in my ability to embrace all of my quirky interests, from what books I chose to read to being pierced with needles when I felt the need to (sometimes physical body rites call to you as a ritual representing the transformation taking place in your psycho-spiritual body).
Soulful things that never change for me: Candle light. The burning of of my favorite incense I bought years ago at a Buddhist temple or sage or Palo Santo given to me by a dear friend. A glass of wine or cup of tea or a caramel mocha. A piece of quality chocolate. An elegant and tastefully sexy dress or nightgown that feels pretty. Hours steeped in a book that stimulates both my mind and my heart. Music that makes my heart flutter. Fresh flowers on my altar. Tarot readings. Writing. Creating with my heart and my hands. Yoga. Walking in nature. Blowing bubbles. Poetry.
Recently I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast on creativity and she counselled a mother and artist who was struggling to find her voice to have an affair with her creativity. I found resonance in that advice. I need to have an affair with all of myself. I need to call back the pieces of me that fade into the distance when I adapt to the needs of the people I love. Rather than find myself, I need to remember myself. Who I am beneath the labels and the relationships they represent. Who I am when I’m not giving/sharing some part of my self empathically.
I was inspired as I began this post to pull Care of the Soul off the shelves last night and immediately felt the allure to dance with my soul, to nurture the quirky parts of myself that are dying to be set free. From there I will shape a life that is not defined by caring for others. My life will be defined by my needs and desires.
Like a deeply loving, intimate, interdependent, transformative relationship with the man I love. Incredible, nourishing sex that both expresses and intensifies the magic of our connection. Gentle interactions between two wounded healers basking in the kindness and generosity that is new and precious for them both.
Time to write for myself and for my art. Quiet to sit with words and find the shape of the stories I need to tell. Space to experiment with my hands immersed in clay, paper, paint, and glitter. The feel of squishy, wet materials between my fingers. Making beauty.
The building of a creative work that combines my writing, art, and community building. A work that allows me to collaborate with other conscious creators, people who want to transform their communities and nurture connection in innovative ways. A work that allows me to support others in deepening their relationship to their soul and their emotions. A work that grows radical inclusivity – spaces where everyone is welcome without masks or walls. Space where people can be free to be themselves and know that they are seen and held. A work that grows belonging.
I find it both fascinating – and obvious – that I need to go deep into solitude in order to one day build community. It only recently occurred to me that what I am building will take some time – years rather than weeks or months. Just like raising my children was a long road, the creative work I am now pregnant with will take time to birth and nurture into fullness.
I’m not just writing a book or incubating a creative idea, I am simultaneously building a new self and a new story of who I am. Instead of being driven by the need to survive and transcend hardness and trauma, I am now motivated by the desire to thrive. It’s new territory to explore.
What does it mean to thrive? What does it look like to live beyond the identity of survivor when all your life you’ve been fighting to be something more? What does success mean beyond overcoming – overcoming poverty, overcoming mental illness, overcoming the inheritance of abuse? Won’t it be fun to find out? It’s a whole new kind of evolution for me to get off on.
As I finally settle into the reality that my partner adores me, loves me and holds me exactly as I am, and will rise to any opportunity or challenge that comes up in our lives, I recognize that I am finally thriving in intimate relationship, something I have hungered for all my life. I desire to nurture our relationship and our building of a life together, from choosing where and how we live to what we will save for and how we will nurture our own and each other’s creative pursuits. I want to immerse myself in the wonder of Us for a little while. To know what it is to have Us-ness rather than be constantly yearning and aching for it.
I am learning that life doesn’t have to hurt anymore. I don’t have to confront my birth mother pain every day to be a good Amma. I don’t have to fight anyone for anything. I don’t have to overcome. I can change circumstances that aren’t working for me. I can rest. I can be more than content. I can learn what it means to thrive.