58. Checkmate with Ourselves

BLOG 58: January, 2000—I remember now where I was on the eve of this millennium. Do you? I was in Taos, New Mexico, in the mountains somewhere far away from civilization as the entire world braced itself for what we called “Y2K” (when all computers would possibly shut down, and the world as we knew it).

As we all prepared for a Y2K disaster, I was in the middle of nowhere, drumming in the new millennium with my friend Eric Perry and others. I barely remember that time, other than the fact that I had flown out to San Francisco, CA, from my parents house in New Jersey, to pick up my car (I had left it there a few years earlier because I wasn’t physically up to driving it back East after becoming injured). Eric came out to California to drive my car—with me lying down in the back—on a journey East, or at least halfway to New Mexico, where he lived.

When Eric and I arrived in New Mexico, I helped him decorate his room and we visited Acoma Pueblo, a native village on top of a cliff set up for tourists to visit. Due to my long term injury I wasn’t able to walk  much, but enough to see this village and befriend a stray dog who followed us to our car. After the dog looked at us with longing eyes and a guard told us to take him—he didn’t belong to anyone, he said—Eric, who could barely take care of plants, became a dog owner. We named the little one “Acoma.”

By the time New Year’s Eve approached,c31d532e140f6c8af13c69ef86fc2705 the three of us were drumming away in Taos. Despite being out in nature, I remember feeling disconnected—even in Albuquerque where the Sandia Mountains that had once called me were. My body was still struggling to walk, and my soul questioning why I had stopped in the middle of the desert on my way to California almost four years earlier only to break myself and still be struggling. Why had I followed a spiritual call only to be broken and to feel disconnected from all that had initially connected me?

That year, 17 years ago, my father had called me to tell me he would fly out to Albuquerque to drive me and my car back to New Jersey, to my parent’s home.  I accepted and soon my car and I were back with my parents.

It was a strange place to be—in the same place, or worse, than I had been four years earlier. It was only later, when studying with one of my spiritual teachers, Martín Prechtel, that I would understand that space I was in. We’ve grown up inside this “empire,” he’d say, and we’ve learned to live with the empire mind. Yet, he’d explain, there’s another part of us, “the barbarian,” the one who’s wild, free, connected to nature, our nature, that wants to come home.

In a world where we have continuously fled, especially West, there comes a time when we’re forced to stop, he’d say, where we face “check mate.” Neither the Empire mind nor the Barbarian can move as they are in stalemate, seeing the other for the first time and determining how to make peace w540ab52e39f2f19b2fea568f2462612aith one other since both are a part of ourselves (my apologies to my teacher for not sharing this as eloquently as he did!).

As I look back, I see now, that I was in a place of checkmate, unlearning the parts of my mind that had imprisoned me while getting to know this Barbarian part of me that had rarely had a voice. Relearning a way of being, and making peace with what has been, can be long journey—one that isn’t just about this lifetime, but many before, tied to our ancestors and this long earth walk we’ve all made, I later realized.

Today I feel at peace, and I’ve become a beautiful woman who honors her soul’s path. But, I realize that this place of checkmate, this slowing down, and even being stuck for a while, is always with us. We live in a world that demands we keep up while drawing our attention with endless technological inventions and constant marketing. So coming home to the Barbarian part of us, to our freer, more connected nature, requires daily mindfulness. It requires we know that following our soul’s voice is a commitment, and a muscle we must exercise so we don’t become lost inside the hustle and bustle of this empire we live in.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of checkmate, of coming home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

Easter Sunday: A Gift of Life

BLOG 56: August, 1999—Sometimes the most remarkable things happen to us to remind us of the magic of the universe—or at least it did on an average day in New Jersey almost twenty years ago.

I had just left the Staples store and was walking to my car, where, to my surprise, stood a bird below my windshield. It was small—the size of my hand—with a tiny head and a curved beak, like that of an eagle, pecking away at the bottom of my windshield. This white tuxedo-tailed bird, with a speck of thinly painted blue at the tip of its tail, was so focused on its task at hand that it barely noticed me approach.

As I got closer, only a foot away, it lifted its head and watched me with delicate eyes. Seemingly comfortable with my presence, I inched closer. It finally moved, although barely, further along the windshield, resuming its pecking task.

Surprised that it didn’t fly away, I carefully entered my car, turned on the motor, and ever so slowly drove out of the Staples parking lot. Despite the car’s motion, this little bird continued pecking my windshield, bit by bit, toward the passenger side of the car. I couldn’t believe it! I drove onto the New Jersey highway of all places and it stayed with me until I got off the highway and crossed a bridge onto a smaller street. The bird only flew away after it had completed its job, pecking the bottom of my windshield from left to right.

I felt sad to watch my little blue-tailed bird fly off. Yet I sensed that this angel of sorts had been sent to me to tell me know that I was not alone, and to show me that I would receive the help I needed to clear emotionaafc6856912051e61b3e8fca1c408f927l issues from my hips that had caused years of pain. This little bird had been my messenger, staying with me long enough, pecking from left to right, to clear old energies from my life. Soon I sensed calm and peace would return to my life.

Most recently, with my own father’s passing, I was, once again, reminded of how I am not alone—that there are angels watching over us, guiding us, even if we can’t see them. Several weeks after my father had left this physical world, he came to me in a dream. I was told he was here to watch over me, and others, to help us heal and manifest our dreams.

It seemed odd to me, that in such short time after his death, he would be offering to help to us. After all, there had been so much healing between him and me toward the end of his life. He had learned to be so strong as a child growing up in Germany during World War II, and, later, as a U.S. immigrant who had left his beloved Argentina, the country of his adolescence. He was someone who could be incredibly tough and hurtful, and yet, two weeks after his death, he came to me as an angel of sorts.

It’s ironic and mysterious how life is as we change form and purpose, and the visible becomes invisible. It reminds me to never assume life is just what we see with our logical mind. Today, I marvel at how that little bird came to visit me almost twenty years ago, and how my father has returned as a kind of angel despite the hardships he experienced during his physical life. It seems we are given gifts in mysterious ways, even when we cannot truly see or understand the magic of this universe.a896b05c9b196939315677f29b87bc8c

Today, as we celebrate Easter Sunday, I am reminded that those who once walked upon this earth—flesh and blood—have ascended, and may be with us now to help us, to heal us, and to be our angels. We are reminded, on this Holy Day, that we are never alone.

*This magical white, blue-tipped bird now appears in my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, representing the unseen world that is painting its magic upon life’s canvas. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

55. Honoring Body, Earth, and Air

Blog 55: July, 1999— “I lay out big like New Mexico tonight, the stars speckling the skies in every direction,” I wrote after relaxing outside my parents’ home under New Jersey skies. “It makes me aware of how amazing it is to be walking on this earth. What a gift it is to be inside this wonder—to know that every day we have this, yet we crowd our thoughts and lives with so much that clutters our view.”

Then, it seemed, life felt more alive, more resilient, inside the warmth of summer. I was reminded of what I had once had. I had danced in New York City before becoming injured, and I had lived in New Mexico where the earth and her big skies had invited me to slow down, even though I wasn’t ready.914e43fb9aef1d21aab3d064540aae1e

“When I think of dancing now, I think of an inspiration that followed me, almost stalking me. I still feel how beautiful it was to dance, to take that deep breathe that is dance,” I wrote. “I want to start again, slower this time, with care and love, listening and understanding that this body is my love, my gift. When I do, I will know how a body is, what a body means, how it is mine in more than dance to take care of.”

That day in New Jersey was like today in New Mexico. Storm clouds cleared to reveal snow-covered mountain peaks as the sun melted the cool breeze dancing inside springtime. I stretched, walked with a friend, and enjoyed being in this body that has been through so much—so much of my neglect and taking for granted the gift of what I had been given. I remember how, when I had lived in California (after leaving New Mexico, and before that, New York City), I had felt such immense despair at not being able to get out onto the land…with the idea of not having open skies, trees, fresh air, and water to bathe in when my soul felt weary.

Back then, I had taken for granted my body’s gift—the gift of housing my soul, my life’s force—and, in the pursuit of becoming someone, forgot the importance of my connection to the earth. Now I know how precious both are, and that, in our neglect, it can take a long time to repair the damage we’ve done.

Today, I think about how we, as Americans, have been blessed with living on this breath-taking land once called Turtle Island by Indigenous Americans. Yet, recently, our leader has threatened to roll back protections for land and air. It’s in the name of progress and jobs, President Donald Trump says. Yet there’s no progress when we can’t drink the water, breath the air, and celebrate this body of life we’ve been given.
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There’s no progress when we no longer wake to visible sunrises or share in the diversity of people, plants, and animals that makes this earth so precious.

I reflect on my journey of unraveling the layers of my mind’s clutter so that I can care for my body, my home, and live from a place of greater gratitude for this earth life we have been given. For me, pain cleansed and cleared away layers that maybe, without it, would still be blinding me from the gift of my body and this earth.

Maybe, just maybe, we don’t need so much pain to learn the gift of what we have right here, in front of us, though. Maybe, as we journey together through the troubled maze of our time, we can all let go of the clutter we’ve carried and make room for a more sustainable and healthy earth walk.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story honoring the earth and the spirit of “duende” within. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

54. I Want to Challenge You

 

Blog 54: June, 1999: I want to challenge you—yes, you, reader of this blog—to ask yourself: “What is my hunger?” Last week, I wrote about hunger, about my hunger of almost 20 years ago, and my current hunger. As I perused my journal last week, as I do every time I write this, I came across a piece of writing on hunger that struck a cord. So, I decided to create Part 2 of last week’s blog. Here it is, beginning with my journal entry from years ago:

“As I write this, I can hear the voices that have challenged my hunger all along,” I wrote in June, 1999. “The voice is that I am alone, that this hunger belongs only to me, and that everyone is quite normal in their view and understanding of the world. This is a strange and pathetic lie that I grew up with, that you many have grown up with: that we have no hunger; that we have no “self” that is incapable of rationalizing the answers to our existence; that we need no answers because we are the pathetic answer that walks this earth pretending to know—pretending to know that we live and die without much more to our existence; pretending that we are not vulnerable, that we do not break, that this world cannot break us and hurt us and teach us to love.”

These words from years ago may seem harsh, yet I grew up in a family where emotions were rarely expressed. My ancestors had fertilized the ground we walked on with potent seeds of stoic strength that they’d grown so they could survive horrid wars, immigration, and challenging life lessons. Yet, this stoicism masked a grief that needed, one day, to be unearthed.

“I intend to speak to those whf77ad40934475fcab37c7a5736a3b646o find my words resonating with them. Otherwise, why read? Art is, after all, this wonderful world in which we can share, express, and crawl out to the edge of a limb and cry out our existence so those who are afraid to climb can see that it is alright, that we were meant to climb, to sing, to explore this world that is only ours right now,” I wrote. “I can’t believe that this hunger is not in every breathing soul that exists—from the Buddha who found peace, to the musician who, with all her might, sings
to us a kind of longing that only a song can sometimes do so well. I have seen hunger in my father’s eyes—in the way he cannot keep still, driving wherever he can to find his hunger sated for brief moments. Or in my mother, in her later years, wanting so much to find warmth in companionship.”

Most recently, my father’s hunger was there until the very end of his life, days before he died, on February 23, 2017. He longed to walk, to try one last time, as his legs gave in below him. He longed to join us for a toast and dinner at the table, to be a part of the life. He longed for peace from pain, for some understanding, it seemed, of what awaited him after life. My family and I all longed to be there with my father, to feel the tenderness of his final weeks that had been absent many years earlier. I longed to be there to help my father transition, to breathe every last breath with him, knowing each one could mark the end.

As I sit now, alone, writing, feeling the reality of all that has passed, and of my father who is no longer here, I wonder about this thing we call life. No rational mind, no preset ideas, no justification for my father’s passing—at 79 years old, and no earlier or later—can change or ease this reality of life and death. Despite all I’ve learned about life, and spirit, and all that passes, I still ask myself, “Why?” “Why does all life leave its form to become something else?” “Why do we, as humans, have to feel loss?” There’s a hunger in that. There’s a grief. There’s a stark reality that life is so immensely precious, and that any denial of our hunger to live this life as fully as we know how, now, and no minute later, would be a lie toward life itself.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of following this hunger home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

 

50. Hand Outstretched to God: Time Carves us into Magic

BLOG 50: May 20, 1999—I was angry at my father inside my dream of almost 20 years ago. In that nighttime journey, I had discovered sculptures of Italy’s Renaissance artist Michelangelo below a pile of ice in a freezer. I was angry at my father for directing conversations toward rational conclusions that had nothing to do with the emotions present in the room. Discovering Michelangelo sculptures below frozen items in my dream seemed akin to discovering the magic, beauty, and life that lay below the frozen emotions of that time.

Back then, I carried a truth that lay smothered below a stoic, cold family dynamic where emotions were avoided at all costs. My truth was this: I loved my father so f8a6f93aae60db2e9ec200da2001c08avery much, and I also felt immense hurt and pain (including physical pain) in not being able to share this love with him or feel it from him, or from others in my family. We had learned to be tough and independent, and strong women (I am one of three sisters, and my mother), but we had never learned to express love and that aliveness, which, for me was who I really was and longed to be in this world. I was this sculpture at the bottom of a pile of ice, longing to be carved out into the magical being I was.

Today, the person I was, and the family I once had, has become—with time having carved magic out of stone—a Michelangelo sculpture, so alive, and life-affirming. Just last week, I was with my family—my father, my three sisters, my mother, and my father’s two sisters, Ingrid and Sisi, from Argentina—because my father has been very ill. We all came together to be with him as he lay on a hospital bed in the living room, too weak to stand or take care of himself anymore.

The days together were long, but rich, holding my father’s hands, feeding him, massaging him, and helping with the most mundane of tasks. With his two sisters, he sang songs of their childhood years in Argentina, and when it came to the Argentinean National Anthem, my father’s voice filled the room with a passion I had never heard before. For those moments, all of my father’s weakness and slurred speech left him inside a celebration of the life he had lived and shared. IMG_1639.JPG

Unlike earlier times in his life, he reached out to each of us, shared his love, his gratitude, and pulled us toward him to receive and give love (there were other more challenging moments too!). And at one point, he asked my mother to lie on the narrow, hospital bed with him and they held each other. They made up for words and emotions unspoken during so many years past.

Then, my father asked us all to sit in a circle around him, as we did our best to prop him up at the side of his bed. He told us to ask him anything we needed to ask him. He would answer honestly with a clear “yes” or “no”, he said. There we were, five grown women with my father, trying to ask him questions that he felt were senseless (because we already knew the answers). What he wanted, it seemed, was to clear the air, for us to express any emotions or concerns we carried that needed to be spoken so he could go in peace knowing we were okay.img_1636

It’s as if my father wanted to melt any remaining ice covering these magical Michelangelo sculptures we had all become, and that he too had become. All the pain, all the years, all the wrestling that my father and I, and all of us had done, to become the beautiful God-creations and works of art we now were, had all been worth it. We were finally here to love and live so deeply together, present to life and death, and to each other, during this final leg of my father’s journey on earth.

*My novel Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit is about this journey of coming home to the magical creations we are. Check it out on Amazon. It’s currently at a Promotional Rate, but this ends soon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

49. Capturing Love Inside these Butterfly Wings

BLOG 49: Feb. 15, 1999—“Love spreads her ashes on my bed tonight, the nightingale calls a sound of surrender. The feelings in my heart are distant cries, unavailable to myself,” I wrote eighteen years ago in my journal as I lived in my parent’s New Jersey home at age thirty, inside that place we perceive as stuck, when, in actuality, we are growing deeper, and becoming more grand in our love.

“I fear what I love is lost, lost only in that is it not mine,” I wrote. “A line of sweet perfume inches across my heart, a love so sweet, so divine, the creating of it hurts. It is a deep knowing that all I have is now, and tomorrow may leave like a butterfly leaves its cocoon…that in order to love, I must surrender to myself, believe that the tales will weave their threads into the world, and be humble to spirit that moves through me and knows better.”

Back then, I couldn’t have imagined how much I’d grow inside the prison of my pained body and life. But today, when a friend shared with me how stuck she was, I found myself 92e75215218006444b25b7f037b11c25telling her that her “stuckness” was a gift. We come into this world and learn to be a certain way, it seems, only to get so-called stuck because we need help putting the breaks on our life, on our old ways, so we can slow down enough to make a drastic change and finally see and walk our soul’s path.

Most recently, my father had numerous operations in his fight against cancer and pain. He too is experiencing being “stuck”, living almost daily pain and uncertainty as the butterfly that he is prepares to leave the cocoon of this life. I pray it’s not too soon, but I also know that every minute we have here is to share our love, and for me to honor my father’s presence and that of my parents before it’s too late. After all, my poem of years ago still holds true: “All I have is now, and tomorrow may leave like the butterfly leaves its cocoon.”

*Check out my new YouTube Link on DUENDE, and the spirit of the earth that we are. Also, my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

48. Set Afire the Old and Renew Life

BLOG 48: January 21, 1999—“Every human being at some time had tragedy enter his life; at that moment, God challenged one to confront Him and to answer His question: “Why dost thou cling to an existence so short and so filled with suffering? What is the meaning of this struggle?”

I wrote down this passage of Paulo Coelho’s The Fifth Mountain as I lived in my parents’ home in New Jersey, recuperating from fierce, chronic hip pain. I had just finished writing a dialogue with my body, in which my body told me it was time to feel and express love, and to let go of my need to control everything. “You need to start moving your energy out,” I wrote.

So, here I was reading Coelho’s words that spoke of a fire, a fire inside that has to be let out, to express its life force and burn away the old habits. He wrote, “The man who did not answer this question [the question posed in the first paragraph] would resign himself, while another, one who sought a meaning to existence, feeling that God has been unjust, would challenge his own destiny…It was at that moment that a fire of a different type descended from the heavens—not the fire that kills but the kind that tears down the ancient walls and imparts to each human being his true possibilities.”

“Cowards never allow their hearts to blaze with this kind of fire; all they desire is for the changed situation to quickly return to what it was before. The brave, however, set afire that which is old and, even at the cost of great internal suffering, abandon everything, including God, and continue forward—God desired that each person take into his hands the responsibility of his own life.”

I see now, as I sit here in New Mexico, years later, looking out at the mountains, music blasting in the background, that this old journey of pain and healing has been about this moment—this place in which a fire blazes inside me with deep knowing of my own light, my own gift that came from the inside out; from letting go of the false pretenses, fears, 6e785453b2dc9a619ab37e3c02b855d3.jpgand doubts; from no longer expecting an external, invisible God to save me; from no longer hiding this love and light inside, and letting it out, and embracing the God-given gift that I am.

Today, when I come across others that are in a place of immense pain as I was, I am able to be there for them with compassion and love

Most recently, I met a woman who had had a stroke 20 years ago, and who had come to a healing clinic where I offer energy healing, along with other practitioners. “I have been dead inside this body for a long time,” this woman said to me, expressing that she was a prisoner inside her body, paralyzed by pain and immobility. She wished she could leave her body and this earth, but said it wasn’t her time.

As I sat across from her, watching her struggle inside her body, observing her fear of being seen, I wondered what had brought her to us. Why come for a healing when she expressed no hope? Any suggestions I offered of hope, she knocked down with her immensely  rational and set mind. This was her life, and there was no changing it, she said.

But as I sat with her longer, I couldn’t help but see this immense light and gift in her presence. She had nowhere to run to, and so her life force, her fire, was beautifully visible to me. I too have been where you are, I told her. I too couldn’t walk, and I too wanted to die, since living without capacity to move, to express my life force, wasn’t living. “But, you carry a very bright light,” I said, “and that light is your gift here in this world. It matters.”

This woman thanked me, but also made it clear that it was merely my mind seeing her, and there was no truth to what I said.  I stayed still with her, feeling immense love for her, despite her resistance, until she finally said, “I would give anything to remove these old thought patterns that come from a horrific childhood.”

That was her fire, her light, willing to step forward, through paralysis, for just one moment, one breath. I was grateful for that moment to be with her. For, it is that fire that belongs to all of us—that says “yes” to life, and gives hope to renewal, to becoming that God-presence that we all are—that is our life force…that is our gift that she shared with me.

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of renewal. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net