Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Seeking the core

Copyright Kim Upton 2010-2018, all rights reserved
Today I've been working on, well, work. As someone that finds truth in the Buddhist thought of "right vocation," it is important for me to have my own currency to use. This means I am not embezzling from the community "bank" that feeds and nourishes my family.

Folks think this is a wonky process. As a stay-home, work-from-home, parent, I should rightfully claim all of my spouse's income, right? Well, yes and no. That is the agreement that we made before getting married, but it does not mean taking resources from others to fulfill the emptiness within your world.

And this is not a metaphorical emptiness, or even a philosophical one. If I want/need something, there is a pool which I can dip into - a supply put there with collective hard work from Mr. The Mister and myself. Even more, if I so desire some fancy yarn, or a new incense to use while meditating, that tributary of wealth is there for me to use as well. However, if I want to try my hand at working online again, for myself, in a capacity that will need a little "seed" money, then it is absolutely on me to provide it. Even though, and this is a big one, my entire family would support me in all ways so that I could live my goals/dreams.

For me this way of thinking helps me at my core - that place where my spirit and heart reside. If I mess up, then it is my own doing, and I will not be pulling from the larder to feed only myself.

There are wonderful parables about this, but there is one that especially resonates as I write this. It is from Taoism, but is often misquoted as being Biblical. "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." This can also mean that we should never expect anyone to "fish" for us.

Just a few thoughts on a cloudy Tuesday morning.

-keu/yarn and zen

Monday, November 13, 2017

To find the roots

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong.” ― John Lennon

There is a simple spiral beauty to aging.

If you are perceptive enough, you will see how cycles and circles dance in a spirited manner around you. When you are unable to see life lessons the first time, they show up again and again until you can feel them in your entire being.

Hopefully you have the ability to be one with the dance, allowing all that is around you to be a teacher. Or, if maybe you prefer a more languid lifestyle, the gentle tapping of happenings greet you with deep ease.

When you are lost, and you want other to know you are lost, your words often sound like indiscernible babbling. "I'm lost, I'm lost, I'm lost," you say, but your voice sounds more like cackling birds. So you try some other forms of communication - vague social media posts, images of you in the middle of a forest, semiotics in the way you place things around your house. Your biggest wish is that someone, anyone, will see that you are lost.

The kicker here is this -- if you are lost, and don't know where you are, others will not be able to find you.

Now, you can take drastic measures and metaphorically light yourself on fire. As you continue to burn up, all you do is further destroy what energy you have inside you. Even if someone could find you, and was able to quench the inferno, there wouldn't be much left of you to save.

Or, and this is a big or, you can find a way to ask for assistance.

Trust me when I say this next phrase -- I absolutely sucked at asking for help. In fact, I perfected the art of "doing it on my own" to the point of exhaustion and exclusion. Only when everything around me had crumbled, all my faith had been lost, and the Mystery had to hand me my dignity on platter, did I begin to learn a new way of being me.

Well, maybe not a new way, but an old way with a new twist.

When I was a child me two biggest ideas for "when I grew up" were: 1) become a nun, or better yet, the Virgin Mary; 2) become a veterinarian. Later in life it was my dream to be as cool as Barbara Mandrel...but anyway. . . Some of my most clear childhood memories include sharing spiritual truths I'd learned at the tender age of 6 with the animals on our farm. My happiest times were when I would take snacks to Mrs. Brown, our sweet faced cow. The chickens were not exactly my favorite, but they would listen to me from time to time -- after I allowed them to peck at my toes sticking out of my flip flops.

Even as a wee bean, my Soul wanted to experience the Divine wildness of life, while also tending and care taking other living beings. As I grew and became an adult, dealing with my upbringing - while also trying to be "normal" in a culture of sameness - my entire being got so very lost. Like the most lost one could ever get.

Thankfully along the way I had signposts - Mr. The Mister, the wee Upton kids, friends, family, and the Great Mystery itself - all pointing me to secret passages back to my core self. Even when I didn't listen, and Very Big and Tragic Things happened, there was still a loving force guiding me back.

Thankfully, I finally learned how to ask for help...while also allowing myself to accept help. It's still a learning process, and I'm okay with falling down four times, then getting up five.

As I work my way backwards, healing and tending the parts of me that lacked care, it has been a relief to see that life is still a rich tapestry of experience. And, despite what folks say, we can go home again. It is possible to "wake up," reach out, and be authentic. It is okay to say things like, "I don't know," or "Let me find out."

It is important to me that I send deep thanks to those who have helped me - especially folks who came to my rescue even when I didn't know I was on fire. Along with that, there are many apologies to hand out, as there are various reasons why, during my time of Lostness, that I reacted as I did to experiences and situations. Excuses are not a mode of accepting personal responsibility for one's actions -- but explanations are a good way to foster understanding.

With that, I'm off to start the day. Much love to each of you!

May all manner of things be well,
- keu

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Home again, home again. . .

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. - Rumi; Translation by Coleman Barks

Life has been very interesting for the past few years, and it has taken me to every single emotional challenge out there. From complete financial loss to critical health issues, and from folks passing away to owning up to my own baggage. It seemed for a time, that the family and I were in a world filled only with valleys. While healing from the wake of one stressful situation, a tidal wave would wash over us, capsizing our tiny little boat. It was a time of learning that was unpleasant for sure, but as I look back on it -- I am thankful that each bit of it happened.

During that time I was barely hanging on to my creative side. So worn out from surviving and care giving, it seemed luxurious - even decadent - to take time for my Self. Then one day I started doodling. Just simple little lines here and there, with just a humble ink pen. After that I opened up my long-forgotten paper journal, allowing it to hear all that couldn't be said.

As I was walking this healing process, I had no idea that the Mystery was planning one last teachable moment for me.

Over the past two weeks I've said this phrase about eleventy billion times, so there's no harm in saying it one more time. Roxie the Van was literally the most awesome thing in the world. She carried my family safely to and fro, hosted tons of company, was my portable art studio, lived life to the fullest, and, most importantly, she was a consistent and trusted confidante in my life. Finally, and most importantly, she gave of her self so that I could have the ability to sit here and write blog posts.

Several folks have stepped up to share their feelings on how "bonkers" it is to have that much love for a van. A few more have said that I'm being selfish in mourning the loss of a "thing," when I should be grateful to be alive.

And you know what - those words hurt me more than anything else that I'd experienced in the past three years. Each syllable tore open old wounds - going back to my childhood - and left me pretty raw for two days. When I took my insurance paperwork to the UPS Store, the woman behind the counter was very compassionate when I broke down in tears - babbling to her about the situation and all that it entailed - and told me that it would be okay. "Give yourself the space and time you need to heal. People are never going to understand who you are, so you have to be okay with yourself. If they aren't meant to be in your life, then let them go."

Sometimes you just need someone to listen without judgment. Sometimes you need a Spiritual reboot from the Creator, because you've lost your way. Sometimes complete strangers can be a vehicle for healing, carrying you over a hard part of life when you are too tired to finish the journey. Along with that, she reminded me that sometimes we need in person human experiences - tangible and interactive - to help us get through the rough times.

Right now I am in a luminous place - happy to have answers, while also having the ability to learn from them - so it is time to write and be creative again. I'll be slowly stepping back out into the world of writing/art, and this is the place where I will share it with others. If you would like to come along, I welcome you with open arms. However, there is one caveat: you must carry your own baggage. <3

Much love to each of you - may all manner of things be well for you this day.

~ keu