Thursday, December 15, 2011

Promise and Loss

"Don't peer over, just Leap!" says Life,
"It's Now or Never." Paralyzed at the edge
fear whispers: Nothing can be ignored.

Irresistible images flirt
steal center-stage with shameless glee, 
certain to capture our very soul.

Sand castles gleam, splash, promise
Everything can be ignored. But--if we 
trust time--eternal sunshine never arrives.

Haunted by Winter Landscapes of Loss
already gone--fist open; fist closed
slipped through our fingers. What holds on?

Heart-tendrils spring from empty space 
criss cross, mesmerize and ignore
the nothing that's everything.

What is seen forgets how it came—beaming
through prisms AS Seeing, itself—since
'What you’re looking for IS What’s Looking'.

Not knowing THIS leads us through landscapes
where loss and promise take turns
holding our hand until we leap.

Stephanie Laura

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Up against a wall (Rilke's Gold Mine)

The meeting had drained me. After cross-currents of discordant conversation, I stepped outside and welcomed the chilly wind nipping at my cheeks as I approached my car. I turned on the CD player and drove away in a haze of static. Heading into the mountain pass that leads to my home, heavy swollen clouds loomed overhead

I wasn’t hearing the CD so I turned it off. I’m trying to FACE troubling energies rather than avoid them. Static warns me when inner turbulence is present. Resistance merely masks what festers and makes me unavailable. Tight sadness burned like a knot inside my chest. Everything in me wanted to get away from this feeling.

Constricted--as if blocked by dark, musty rubble--I felt stuck. Swirls of vague sensation made it stuffy. Hard to breathe--and yet, a sense of potential lurked. Who knows how close we might be, at any point, to striking gold! Rilke captures it well: 

Pushing Through

It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock    
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.

I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.

Rainer Maria Rilke
(Translated by Robert Bly)  

Why do I struggle to keep others from seeing how deeply hurt I feel? What am I afraid of? Is 'exposure' really dangerous? What might happen if I actually 'gave another the advantage' of glimpsing how I truly feel? How much energy does it take to hide or pretend? How true are all of my ideas about what's 'good' or 'bad'? Sometimes it seems like I've gotten everything backwards.

Trees part around a steep curve revealing misty swirls settling over a sea-bound canyon, filling the basin with cloud-creme. Wind enlivens everything. Opening my window I take a whiff of cool moist fragrance. Drawing powerful nourishment from the companionship of foliage, wildlife, sky and the changing elements, my shoulders finally soften. A sigh escapes as I marvel at Life's inscrutable honesty, and inherent order. It pierces the armor I have unknowingly accepted, frees me from the prison of safety and self-consciousness. 

Human animals are merely another aspect of nature. What we witness in each other, is simply a mirror image. Obviously this common plight includes a propensity to distort reality. When tension, fear and irritability surfaces, it is usually because we're unwilling to acknowledge our own pain.

Any pain we inflict upon each other
is merely our own heartbreak
not fully acknowledged 
to ourselves

Being exactly AS and HOW we are at any given moment without approval or rejection, justification or defense, is not dangerous, but rather truly sane and honest. The only source of real safety is admitting what we try so relentlessly to deny: our innocence; our sincerity; our vulnerability; and our ignorance. This opens a doorway to what matters most for all beings. If we take this leap at the very instant when we stand face to face with uncertainty, we begin to discover an amazing secret. Try it out! 

Trust is the doorway that will take us there.

On the other side of the mountain pass a valley opened into the late afternoon sunshine, boring holes through the cloud-fabric. Rays steamed forth. It made sense now: what a relief to discover how the tapestry is always a result of every thread within the woven warp and woof, which holds the form in place. Hidden images glimmer here; glint there. Each one demands my undivided attention: Everything yearns to have its moment in the Light!

My dialogue is only just beginning.

How to Untangle Knots (My mothers yarn)

I am obsessed with fixing broken things. I discovered this talent early on. I would untangle knots and thread needles for my mother. When my baby brother's swan shaped, night light shattered, I spent a week gluing the bumpy milk glass back together. Years later, after wasting an entire day--when my son was in high school--trying to find one lost item, I fessed up to my addiction.

Why do this? Eventually, I realized none of these items were THAT important (part of me knew this all along). I was after something significant. My earliest impressions suggested that something was 'not quite right' with the people and situations around me. Nothing calibrated. A project of inquiry began, fueled by fierce determination to get to the bottom of this problem. This quest has ruled my life.

My inquiry uncovered some basic questions:

What is it that I believe has been lost, broken or hopelessly entangled? Is there anything that isn't lost, broken or hopelessly entangled? Can I get to the unbrokenness by fixing broken things? If not, then what?

My approach was counter-productive (wasting time, draining energy, trying to solve endless 'problems' one by one). It seemed futile to be driven by such blindness. 

I actually just want TO FIND the realm that exists BEYOND problems and dilemmas.

I already knew that such a realm existed because IT's rays had often pierced the cloudy haze of chaotic life to reveal a sparkling, clear, spacious emptiness that enfolds us all. Yet there seemed to be no doorknob on this side of the situation. ENTANGLEMENT turned out to be my guide. The puzzle of 'The Tangled Knot' became my invisible doorknob. It started with my mother and her knitting hobby. 

I would hold a mass of my mothers tangled yarn in my hands and look at it.  Tight. Impossible to see where the snags and snarls had locked up the strands free flow. Space was obviously needed. So I began to loosen the entire ball of yarn by gently pulling at it from all angles in order to enlarge the size of the skein itself. By expanding it outward, more space was created within. I intentionally did NOT try to untangle any of the knots (because it became quite clear, early on, that by doing so they would only become hopelessly locked). 

Instead, by letting space breathe through the tangles, it was easy to see which direction each thread took, and how these threads crisscrossed each other. With such visibility there was room to gently maneuver the threads. It took time, but the entire ball of yarn would eventually become untangled. It was a relaxing endeavor whereby the value of SPACE was being utilized, appreciated and experienced. 

There was a sense of satisfaction each time I succeeded--as if I were 'on the trail'. Others liked it. I liked it. Thus began a life-long habit of following the trail, doing what I could do well. Unfortunately, I could do many things quite well. So it took decades before LIFE finally brought me to my knees in utter helplessness and despair. Once the more effective invisible doorknob of FAILURE began to haunt me--only then--did the real territory began to fully open itself. 

When we fall short of the standards we have subscribed to, it can feel like failure. Or Life, itself, might intervene to knock us off the 'safe & narrow' path we tread. Yet, even as this happens, we can easily miss the fantastic opportunity presenting itself: Hoping to avoid this thing called 'failure', we tend to run as fast and far away from it, as we possibly can. Rather than peer more deeply between the threads of its foreboding fabric, we fortify ourselves against it's insinuations; we seek images and beliefs designed to counter the bad ideas, whispered by our worst fears. 

One day, I finally reached my threshold, got fed up with being afraid, and stood up to FEAR, itself.  I was working in the NICU, when this happened. On my way to attend a high-risk delivery of a premature infant, I felt wearied by the continual sense of inadequacy that had always haunted me in my job. So I asked fear, itself, "What are you?" Thus began the longest walk down the hallway to L&D that I have ever taken before or since. 

I discovered that Truth was the opposite of everything I thought I knew: There is nothing to fear. There is nothing to know. There is no one to be. There is nothing to do. Yet, everything will happen, with and through LOVE if only we get out of the way and allow it.

See Waking Up to What We Are. (by 'swanfether' WHO IS 'ME', on the site where it is posted) if you want to know the 'STORY' of my long walk down the hall. Or better yet--see your own life, which is no doubt full of your own version of such discoveries . . .

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I want to wear something that
expresses nothing, in particular,
suggests nothing, in particular,
and defines nothing, in particular. 

Can a piece of clothing refrain 
from embellishing style, genre, or image?
De-Emphasize the particular?

What sort of fabric, color, and design
is not 'particular? I want a 'fit' that won't try
to hide, describe or convey.

What might entice the mirror to reflect ‘NOTHING’?  
How accurate is a mirror when it only offers
an endless series of "SOMETHINGS"?  
Do we notice the fissure this creates? 
The way it ruptures the unruffled surface 
of tranquil absence?

How Illusion wrinkles innate Presence 
and populates    E m p t y   S t i l l n e s s  
with hallicunations?

When clothing continues to promote 
an image, where none is sought, wanted, 
helpful, or true—then what? 

It's quite tempting to seek stuff that blends in 
or find clothing that broadcasts bulletins like:

“Ignore this person—‘she’ isn’t really here anyway
please look elsewhere if seeking someone
who’s anything at all.” 

But I know that’s not ‘it’ either. 
What  ‘IT’  is, 
I do not know.

I only know that NOTHING inside my closet ‘feels right’ 
and the very idea of “right” fails to fit anything I try on.
There’s a sense of ‘no not quite that...' But
no reason why ‘this sense’ is so. 
It just is.

I keep scanning for another sense;
One of ‘Yes, this will do.’  Some sign 
that such signals might exist. Confirmation
that IT can inhabit every smidgen of Beingness.
How long must I wonder? 

Meanwhile, what do I wear ?

Stephanie Laura            

Thursday, November 10, 2011

TREE poetry


Everyday a new poem appears in my mailbox. Today's poem was about TREES. I was raised by a grove of Eucalyptus trees, in the undeveloped San Fernando Valley. They taught me more about life than almost anything else.

Michelle Taransky's poem contains trees, rivers, woodworking and the things we do. But mostly its about loss, change, relationship, understanding--and those huge gaps--where SPACE lives, always eager to swallow us up. It was while sitting on the trunk of a tree my father had cut down, that the meaning of life, pulled me into its mystery. I was 10 years old.


This— The best tree
 27 yr old 'ME' at a Eucalyptus Grove 

Is sick now, now discuss
Where to look, discuss:
The cause, and, if
Possible, discuss who
Could have prevented
The workers who are working
To prevent, and if it happens then
Prepare to discuss how bodger* will
Recognize people saying "sick"
Everywhere, discuss how to handle
Discussing one sickness as if
That sickness is the other
Sickness— Ok, sickness
Ok to say ok discuss
Discuss the landscape
When it changes from woods
To sorry. To not the ideal
Tree to use as the marker
Beginning a discussion by a river
May confuse explanation with
And, how to avoid, when I say I need
A new chair to work, you think:
I am using the chair as a metaphor

by Michelle Taransky

* A bodger is someone who works with wood


     Early one morning, nearly a year ago, the majestic Live Oak tree that has been growing for decades at the edge of our property, crashed to the ground, demolishing all that lay in its path. Life's 'BEFORE' was magic charm with flagstone steps across the green. 

. . .  a courtyard gathering place with climbing vines, shade, and festive colors

The THUD woke me up--literally--out of one life and catapulted me into a very different world.

My inner landscape was emptied out, as well.

Strange how realignment can 'take away' what has felt like "given's" 
to open up gaps and vistas,
where barriers and boundaries once prevailed.

Now, nearly a year later, the 'AFTER' of our front yard still looks empty and barren. 

Our neighbor drove home from work, after she got my call, to survey the damage. The tree was on her property. Both of us were drawn to this stretch of land, largely because of the lovely old oak at the common border.  

     "How bad is it?" she asked me over the phone.
     "Prepare yourself. Half the tree is laying across our yard and blocking the entire street." I explained. We stood in her driveway embracing after she got out of her car, still stunned.
     "I wonder what this means?" she murmered, "This is no small things that's happened here." Her astonishment was intermingled with the awe that happens when Nature's force makes us small. And her insightful trust that Life creates out of pattern, somehow.
     "Nothing will ever be the same." I whispered back. But even then, I had no idea how drastically the entire tapestry of our lives would be affected. 


     In the aftermath of dealing with debris, rupture and repair, our family faced upheavels to pocketbook, heart, and the essential 'identity' our property had embodied. There is much more LIGHT and SPACE everywhere--on every level--as a result. Unseen consequences continue to ripple out. The fabric of interpersonal dynamics initially mirrored the disarray of the parched, unruly wasteland out front. Both were equally disrupted (exposed) by the vibratory THUD that shook the house that morning. 

     Although I would not want to relive this year again, I am grateful and amazed at the transformations. Sometimes it takes an external nudge to disrupt the status quo; to start THE CONVERSATION rolling. Reading the words of Michelle's poem, I recognize this sense of wading into uncomfortable territory with hard questions and unwelcome consequence. How one has to push through layers of resistance:

Ok to say ok discuss
Discuss the landscape
When it changes from woods
To sorry.

     So many layers exist. They serve their purpose well: to shield and deter. Yet, pushing through these layers, anyway--because we are forced to do so OR because Life simply makes things impossible to ignore--we cross 'forbidden' safeguards. We enter awkward truths and grieve what must be seen; done; known. This includes facing the programed scripts of condemnation that come with "sorry". These and so much else, fall like dead leaves into the SPACE that holds it all.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Who are you? What's the point?

The biggest challenge 
for most spiritual seekers 
is to surrender self importance,
and see the emptiness 
of one's personal story. 
It is your own 
personal story 
that you need to awaken from 
in order to be free.


Once we finally start to figure out 'who' we are, there comes a knock at the door. It would be nice if we opened that door to find no one standing there. That would be our first clue.

Instead the hand held out to us, offers promise. Intrigued, we're hooked. Sometimes we don't know who we want to be. We might know only what we we DON'T want. A 'thing' can mean so much that a role we play, a place, a car, a pair of blue jeans, or a community can appear to be fused with our very identity; our happiness. If it gets ruined, lost, or taken away, we might feel like life will never be the same again. Our status quo can be unhinged by an incident, some information, or a shift in energy that disrupts. Change has such power over us. Why?

Some of us are more affected by TRANSITION than others. We're all vulnerable to the heart-tendrils we co-create through our connections. Whatever draws our interest and attention, enters our field of energy. Such weaving spins the very gridwork of our identity. Shifting gears can be difficult--might need adjustment or more fluidity. Deeply etched grooves can make gears grind with the slightest movement. Change continually intrudes, disrupts, and rearranges our very existence.

"I don't want this to end!  I can't stand anything the way it is.  I need something else.  I don't want to lose this.  I want it all to be so very different.  I want everything to stay just like it is.  I can't let go.  Why is this happening?  How I do to make it okay?

Such thought-threads leave us feeling upset, clingy or on edge. What is missing? Do we feel out of control? Afraid? Not up to the task? What stories are we telling ourselves? Do we believe them? What might happen if we questioned what we think? Do we know for certain that what we think is actually true?

Becoming Happens. We learn 'who' we are, 'what' we like, don't like, believe or disagree with; and who or where 'our people' are. Reframing as we go, we take each situation, each emotional onslaught, and upload it into our data bank. At first this process of identity building is exciting and creates the illusion that we are 'going somewhere', 'becoming someone'. Eventually we end up clinging to--or arguing with--this SENSE OF SELF. Ultimately IT thinks it owns us.

WHAT  ARE  you ?    Really ?

Along the way, we often shelve our innocence and freedom. Close off to love, spontaneity and delight. Openess may now seem frivolous, dangerous. Being vulnerable might not 'fit' with our current self-image. We feel cut off from something, without knowing what, why, or how. When we really start to question The Whole Set Up,  and get curious about what's actually going on, we might wonder, What really matters? What can I count on? Who's really there for me? Does LIFE care? Will it let me down?

Arriving at this doorway, we often wonder, WHAT IS THE POINT?

This invites us into a personal healing journey of conscious participation. Transformation becomes our new friend. Whatever doorway brings us here, is an invitation, a gift worthy of honor. 

Wise beings warn against taking someone's pain away. Pain can be our direct route to SELF discovery. Of course we want to make it better--for ourselves and for each other. But I'm trying to learn to leave it alone with everyone I love. I can care and be available but that's different than trying to fix something.  If someone seems unhappy, my internal radar system beeps. Help needed! I'm busy rewiring the circuits, so a very different signal can be sent:

Instead of being driven by an urge to help, let there be a pause--an actual holding back for just an instant. In this pregnant Stillness a new synapse can begin to whisper:  Let her experience this doorway of not knowing on her own.  Even if he can't yet value his 'gift' of opportunity, let him have it.  This is their work and I can't help them, even if I'm invited. If I AM invited, then my only hope is learning how to listen, and how to 'be there', rather than, how to respond.

If this IS their doorway then I need to respect that. Care. Remain available. TRUST on their behalf--even when they cant trust for themselves. And take refuge in mutual silence and space.

It becomes much harder when the one who's 'in pain' is myself. Whether the tendency is to reach out or turn inward, there is a wanting. It's the same wanting we all feel. Its the same wanting that we all get hooked by. Our concern is wonderful (whether for self or other). The trouble is, we are already running down the path holding a fistful of stories we have believed. These 'thought fragments' fuel our hurried steps, cloud our perspective, and co-opt our good will with agenda-laden intentions. These intentions themselves arise from the stories, thoughts, and ideas, to which we have subscribed. There is really very little left (in all this 'self-ing') of what we truly ARE.

And that is the only point.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to get what I want

. . .  IF . . . 

If I want
'the right’
to exist
 as I am 

let me behave
as if

others have
 ‘the right’
to exist 
as they are.

(is there any difference?)

~ ~ ~

Stephanie Laura

Friday, July 29, 2011

CRAZY? Why do I post this stuff?

Who do you who do you who do you 
Who do you think you are? 
Bless your soul, 
you really think you're in control?

Why do I post this stuff in an online blog? Gnarls Barkley understands (and I suspect we're not alone) so I'll simply quote him . . . ...

"...I remember when I lost my mind. There was something so pleasant about that place. Even your emotions have an echo in so much space. And when you're out there without care--yeah, I was out of touch. But it wasn't because I didn't know enough. I just knew too much. Does that make me crazy? My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb... I wanna be like them. Ever since I was little, it looked like fun. And it's no coincidence I've come. And I can die when I'm done. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe you're crazy. Maybe we're crazy. Probably."     ~  Gnarls Barkley  ~

(Check out these ink-blot visuals & enjoy the music!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Remember those childhood moments, when Life turns SOUND off? All of a sudden, a loud poof of Quiet erases all background noise—and everything in you pauses to register the shift? You look at your playmates, the trees, or scan the busy playground. It's all shrouded in magical stillness. Keen interest and a sense of wonder takes over. Then, almost as quickly, the sounds simply come back.

 Most childhood discoveries spring from innocence & trust.

Even now, for no particular reason, Life will invite us into STILLNESS. We become vacuums of Deep Presence. [Much like in a Movie Theater--without any transition after the loud previews--sometimes quiet images spring to life on the large screen. No music; no dialogue. Only seeing exists. Instantly, our senses notice the sharp contrast. We are drawn into the scene, itself, hungry to inhabit this new reality. From the inside.]

Oriented to tune out familiar sounds; we only realize we were hearing them, once they stop. The absence of sound alerts us. We pay attention. We are called to notice. We are drawn into Beingness, itself.

More and more, I am being called To Notice how SILENCE holds all sound. Whole body stillness. When LIFE turns off mental chatter, the entire conceptual realm can simply stop. No thought, image, story, or idea, actually exists. Even its originating impulse fades out. Vast empty space is  A l i v e .   Being AWARE, IT holds everything (including what is usually called ‘me’ or ‘you’) within itself. 

Being expands into Everythingness. It's all simply naked existence.

At first, such contrast can seem sharp and stark. The edge of difference; acutely felt. Initially, one might even wish for assurance from a projection room that indeed, nothing is wrong and 'the story' will continue with all its normal dimensions and familiar range of perceptual flavor. And of course it will, because its all overlay. Neither layer rules out the other one's validity.

Now--as in childhood--I feel eager and curious when SILENCE dawns. Such a heightened sense of availability leads to a lighter spacious Vastness that still includes what only SEEMS to be 'falling away'. It's simply no longer ‘contained by’ anything that limits, separates, or cuts it off. When no constricting framework exists to isolate any particular aspect from the everything-else-ness of Existence, there is simply the delicious Freedom to Be Deep Presence. To become the verb, that we truly are! 

~  ~  ~ 


Friday, July 15, 2011

Heart Pilgrims

"Will you find the answer in all you say and do?
Will you find the answer
In you?"

from    E N Y A
(video by   W E I R E N A

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Other Life

 Do you ever want to run away?  
Or escape to the parallel life of your dreams?

   I've always had recurring 'beam me up' fantasies of instant transport to a lush tropical island: A place where no one can find me. All my needs are met. Sunshine, abundant fruit on shady branches, sparking waves, innocence, freedom, beauty, respectful wildlife, and all the amenities I could possibly desire!     
   This 'other life' has nurtured me simply by drawing (energetically) from the bounty of my imagination. Recently, however, it occurred to me that this idyllic 'perfect life' might not be the panacea I've counted upon--if it actually happened. So I tried it out. My wish has finally come true! Sometimes life gives us something even better than our dreams. I invite you to join me on my 'island' for 7 days, right now. Step into this actual wonderland and see what you think... 

 What might your dream look like?
Maybe a secluded island 
a lively gathering 
with music and campfire circles . . .
Total freedom . . . 

All your dreams come true?

My island has a tropical garden
with a little pink house 
tucked into a secret corner.

Come inside; there's hot tea and pomegranate soda!

The secret loft is warm and cozy. 
(Shall I open the hidden stairway?)

It's attic window has magical powers!

You can spy on the living room down below.

Maybe you would like to sit and check your email?

Its only a short walk to town from my island.
Over the railroad tracks, down the hill, 
to the sweet little village shops.

 When we get back I'll show you the outdoor shower
 surrounded by palms, sunshine and flowers! 

I learned how to tie my towel just like the island girls! 

If you're tired, here's the bed where you can rest.

Or maybe a window seat?  Something to read?

A glorious sunset is brewing out on the deck!


Shall we take a stroll to the nearby ocean cliffs?

on beauty?
delicious air?

 Or watch harbor boats glide out for their sunset sail?
. . . Mesmerized by the miracle of light . . .

---then head back for a snack as evening cools
and toast your feet before the cozy fire.

It's the little things that make life precious. Art. Beauty. A special touch that melts the heart. Fresh flowers. All the colors of the rainbow...

Daytime fades as shadows settle
amidst the brilliant play
 of changing hues, 


the glow of lamp, or flame.

Each day ends with my favorite ritual:
savoring peace
and a friendly book. 

 . . . as bed awaits, my spirit rests in gratitude.

Please come back to visit any time you like!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Like Baby's Breath

It’s not true
that people will like me
only if
they cannot see who I am.
 Its not true
(even though I always thought it was)

There’s no one there
for them to see
anyway. And
I have to be
what I am given to be.

Which, in this instant
is HERE. Fully open
utterly available
taken anew in each moment
by waves 
of unending Love.

If others feel uneasy
with this Vast
S p a c i o u s 
Life Force,
Why is it my job
to shield them?
What am I saving them from?
Who is being served?
What do I think I am? 

Stephanie Laura