I decided to write my spiritual autobiography in a series of journal entries, an informal epistle, for two reasons: one was that I do my most honest writing out of the academic guidelines, and two because in a way it was a long thoughtful letter to my Self that I am sharing with you. I found that in working on this assignment throughout the semester it pulled at things that I never considered an issue or a shadow. In general, I consider myself to be an open and honest person but there still remains remnants of a shadow who prefers to be unseen and unheard and that much of my work lies in finding a balance between the two.
The counselor in me wonders when was it that being unseen and unheard was valued, or when was my voice or presence not validated? No answer has arisen, but on the other hand I am not actively seeking one—if it comes it comes. I acknowledge the question as being relevant but I try to keep my work in the present tense and ask myself how it relates to right now. I always know right away when I am holding back and when I push myself to share it feels like throwing open the blinds on a dark room. That is much of what this autobiography has felt like, opening shutters.
I did write my entries online first and so I have transferred them from there to here. While they are not one cohesive story, per say, they do serve to show my spiritual journey throughout this semester. So without any further delay, here is my story, as it stands right now but always the work in progress.
What’s in a name?
He sees. I decided to Wikipedia my name and found the following:
The original Hebrew name Yiskāh (יִסְכָּה), means “foresight”, or being able to see the potential in the future. The Hebrew root sakhah means “to see,” so the name Yiskah, with the added yod, implies foresight or clairvoyance.
I immediately laughed, told my coworker and said “this is scary,” to which she replied, “but that’s so you!” My name is Jessica, and I was named after my father, Jessie who was named for his father, Jesse. Because of the connection to my father I was hesitant to begin to talk about my name but as I am learning right now in life in general, I am so much more than just my father’s child. I find it ironic that so much of me has been defined by the ghost of a relationship rather than by the solid ones around me. That absence, that void is how I saw myself, I could not see anything except for my lack, my empty. When I was asked the story behind my name I procrastinated telling the story because it lead back to the thing I hated most, that space.
What I found, though, was affirmation that I am no coincidence (as if I ever thought myself to be). I am clairvoyant and I do see the potential in the future. Nothing that describes the meaning in my name is exempt from how I would describe myself. Being able to see things before they happen, some call it premonition, some call it clairvoyance; I am not sure of the nuances that make the different. I do know that I have that gift and since I accepted that fact it has only gotten stronger. It feels like continuous déjà vu, people places and things all feel familiar even when they are not and for the longest time I never mentioned it to anyone. Two weeks ago though, I was reading a book by Deepak Chopra and he spoke of the importance of speaking truth. Not just recognizing it, not just knowing it, but speaking it because for all intents and purposes it is truth.
For example, just one week ago I stood in the kitchen of my mother’s house reading refrigerator magnets that included my sisters’ names and their meanings. I saw how closely the descriptions matched each of their names so well, and I wondered about the meaning behind my own name. I always thought it meant “God’s grace,” which left much to be desired if searching for meaning. One week later I was given the assignment to write about my name. One week after that, we are here. I have been more willing to share my thoughts and not be so intensely secretive about the parts of me that may be controversial or hard to digest.
Before I moved to San Diego I was sitting with Naia in her living room and she made a statement something to the effect of, “I assumed you would be studying spiritual awareness/alternative healing given all that has happened this year.” Finding out about being an empathy (having the ability to feel the energies of those around me), the experience of the Tao of Healing class, the concentrated effort of being more patient, listening to the universe/God, in short: Waking up. Not to say that mentorship (what I thought I would be studying when I entered my Doc program) isn’t wonderful, but all things considered… Well then I got to CA and met with my faculty advisor who, after I explained to her my experience with the Tao of Healing said, “Well why on earth aren’t you studying that? You seem to have a real vested interest in it?” I spoke with Naia that night and she said, “You know that you can’t ignore it and its only going to get louder.” Well I do know enough to know that. I’ve also noticed that it usually takes me hearing something three times for me to take it seriously. I have been trying to work on listening at two—with time maybe I will trust at the first. With this I knew at two, but was waiting for more direction. I knew it would come, but I silently abandoned my work on mentorship because I knew…it was coming.
One night my ex-boyfriend went the library and got 8 books, as he listed off the titles of them he asked which one he should start with. One title “The Power of Premonition,” stuck-out to me for obvious reasons and I suggested he start there. Because he is a total nerd, he researched the author, Dr. Larry Dossey, before even starting the book and found some webcasts he’d done with Oprah on her XM radio show. I listened to him speak about the power of prayer, not necessarily religious prayer, but meditative prayer where we are spiritually connected to the universe and we surrender our wants (ego) in favor of moving in directions guided by a higher power with infinitely more wisdom. Dossey explained it simply as “Thy will be done” Oprah reiterated it as her own personal prayer, “Guide my footsteps.” I knew then that I had to know more and contribute to this school of thought. This doctrine that I believe so absolutely because…well mainly because it has been my life for at least the past 7 months and I have witnessed first-hand the power in surrender.
Consider this (something I found a few days ago) “They” said that we will notice the physical effects more as the frequencies and vibrations increase. Many of us can sense on another level of our being that something is happening. With the changes subtly going on around us, our physical bodies must also change in order to adjust. Some of these physical symptoms are unpleasant and cause concern. “You will see and notice that as the frequency of the planet continues to raise in terms of its vibration, you will have less difficulty with symptoms of energy blockages.” The world is begging and the more we ignore it the louder it will get until we wake up and pay attention. It really is an amazing time to be alive, and in my lifetime I believe I will get to see many cycles of things. What I hope is that I do not become my own enemy… What I suppose is my most sincere hope is that I live up to my name, and even to expound on it, to see and to listen. What good is foresight if you do not trust yourself enough to listen?
One of the days that helps me to best get the story behind my name was watching an interview with Shirley McClaine on Oprah. I was sitting on my couch and was so moved by the interview that I began to text a friend of mine, here is how it went:
JessJ: Random..but did you see Shirley McClaine on Oprah this week?
JessJ: She’s talking about her belief system and karmic laws, reincarnation, the changes our world is going through, the disconnect of america (she describes US as a left brain technological materialistic society) and the rest of the world and the universe trying to communicate to us
Naia: Omg perfect that’s sooooo amazing
JessJ: Right?! I’m supposed to be studying and so of course I’m watching Oprah on my dvr
Naia: Lol that’s great
JessJ: Omg…so she walks into a house (looking to buy) and she said she felt the spirit of a dancer, and she’s a dance, she felt that house was meant for her and bought it immediately. So Oprah says “so you’re psychic too?” And she said well everybody is if they just turn the trust level up. (My reaction: !!!!) Ok..ok I’ll leave u alone now lol
Naia: Lol it’s all in the right hemisphere. U just have to get the left one/ liner side to be quiet. Just trust u are seeing all this for a reason
JessJ: I have to be. Wow…
Naia: Do you believe now?
JessJ: Oh definitely. She said “those who have encountered ‘aliens’ have said the soul does not die learning experience is lifetime after lifetime…so what they’re saying is give up war, you’re not killing anyone anyway what you’re doing is incurring more karma”. Which completely stirred everything in me
JessJ: I have to save this episode…I think everything in it was speaking to me. My body heard it.
Shirley McClaine ended the interview by saying the following words to Oprah: “I don’t plan it I don’t outline it I let it all happen, that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned, Oprah, in my life is to surrender. I don’t fight and struggle anymore. I have learned to surrender to the very sophisticated divinity. “
When I tell you I cried…I don’t mean tears. I mean my soul was stirred into weeping, not out of sadness, out of finding someone who shares a truth with me. I am not completely sure I knew how I felt about most these things. But when I listened to this interview, the entire time my body was humming, vibrating. I feel like I did after the drum circle but without any work or concentration. I felt so connected to her words…she was one of mine. She is someone I’ve known before and recognize now.
Sometimes you know what’s right. Sometimes those things go beyond understanding of our conscious. Right now I don’t know what what it is I’ve just experienced but I know it is special. I know I am going to write books, three or four. I know I’m going to have the same number of children. I know I will be married and I will travel for a long time. I know I will change the life of many.
Several times within the last few weeks I’ve heard mention “the God within” or “the divinity within”. I know mine. We are well acquainted, but she speaks at a whisper barely above the breeze. She sits beside water and the water is always louder than her voice. She is surrounded by earth, more often a river’s edge in a forest than anything else. She is always certain and ironically she is always right. I love her fiercely and I miss her. I think she called to me today.
That day, April 15, 2011 was the day I knew why my name is Jessica. I knew that I was meant to see, to predict, to know. I knew and today I accept and understand. Today I can speak that truth without fear. I am Jessica, and all that it encompasses.
My Petition to the Universe
Dear God/Universe…I believe you are one in the same,
A long time ago my purpose was revealed to me. I was not ready at that time to receive that message, and found it to be completely overwhelming and my self to be unworthy. I know now that you do not create unworthy things, as we are all made in your image and you are vast, magnificent, and limitless.
I forget sometimes that the world is self sufficient. That we hold the answers to our questions and the supply of our needs as we are all apart of every single thing. This is the reason for my petition. Where do I go? I sit quietly and look, I try to listen but what comes is everything. Every emotion, every thought, every thing from everybody and it feels like too much. I know my path, I can see what You have laid before me as your will for me. My stomach aches from hunger and I see the abundant feast you have laid before me, the feast that is not yet ready for consumption. So I ask of you, where shall I eat for now?
Is this another test of patience that I am failing? Is this a series of circuit training for my faith? In my prayers I return to you, always in the same place…the river bank surrounded by green with smells of sweet foliage and the air sticky and full of moist. I sit and I wait and I listen…too afraid to ask for fear I might miss instruction, but today I risk it in this plea, tell me how to better use you so that I can be of my best use. Help me to give back to you.
The universe is self-sufficient. The universe will take care of its own (you, me, everything). Just as your stomach growls when you are hungry, the universe will speak to you when it needs something.
This came to me last night like an earth-shattering epiphany
We are all supposed to be great. Not for our own personal gain, but for the gain of the collective; the greater good. The universe…God…whatever you want to call it, the thing that exists that is bigger than you and I…is self sufficient. It will tell you what it needs. What it needs is for you to excel so that you can give back, that is the circle. It gives you opportunities and tries to guide you, do you listen? Do you fight it?
Yield and become whole, hollow out and become filled
When you surrender to The Way things happen as they should, effortlessly. Organically. As if this path was written in the stars way before your time. But wasn’t it? There are no secrets, there is only what is known and what you think is yet to be known. We are one living breathing unit.
Surely the darkness will hide me and the light will become night around me” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
You can’t lie to yourself, just as you can never lie to God, or the universe. He knows, you know, it knows far before the words or sentiments are even uttered. There is no darkness, and certainly no refuge in it. I suppose if you close your eyes there is darkness, but even then, we awaken to light; to truth. Its innate. We are drawn to it like gnats. Because the universe is self-sufficient. The universe will tell you what it needs, and what it needs is for you to be great. To excel, and to live in truth in light.
Thanks To Ollie
Today I wrote: I knew if I just sat still with an open heart I would be pointed in the right direction. Lets work backwards. Before I left home, my family went to my grandmother’s church to hear her give a testimony on Psalm 23 and how it has influenced her life. While I won’t go into the details of her most wonderful speech I will say that my Grandmother is definitely the cornerstone of the spiritual foundation for myself and many members of my family. My cousins and I knew that if we spent the night at Grandma’s house over the weekend we better have clothes for church because we were definitely going, no excuses. Furthermore, she was always singing a hymn or gospel song, and she always reminded (and reminds us still) that all we have to do is trust in the Lord. I feel in many ways I have come full circle with my beliefs and that I owe much of that to her. I remember when I last visited home my cousin asked her whether God was male or female. She said neither, and that God was a spirit that lived inside each of us, to say that I was surprised would be a vast understatement. I thought for sure she would say God was a male, but in her candid truth I realized that maybe more of my spiritual story had been written at my Grandmothers house with her big black Bible that took up the whole coffee table than I thought.
Things are being revealed to us daily, but so many of us are not listening…there’s too much noise for us to hear. Consider this (something I found a few days ago)
“They” said that we will notice the physical effects more as the frequencies and vibrations increase. Many of us can sense on another level of our being that something is happening. With the changes subtly going on around us, our physical bodies must also change in order to adjust. Some of those physical symptoms are unpleasant and cause concern. “You will see and notice that as the frequency of the planet continues to raise in terms of its vibration, you will have less difficulty with symptoms of energy blockages.”
The world is begging and the more we ignore it the louder it will get until we wake up and pay attention. It really is an amazing time to be alive, and in my lifetime I believe I will get to see many cycles of things. What I hope is that I do not become my own enemy…
O Great Spirit,
whose voice I hear in the winds and whose
breath gives life to all the world, hear me.
I am small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and let my eyes
ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things
you have made and my ears grow sharp
to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons
you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength not to be greater
than my brother or sister
but to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades as the fading sunset,
my spirit may come to you
Native American Tradition
“Let me walk in beauty”
I literally thought to myself, “I can do a year of prayer and it will contribute to both my personal growth as well as the maturation of this dissertation research”. Right now I am thinking of studying how prayer helps the success of a student, and learning prayer from Native Americans as well as those in India (though my advisor just mentioned working with people in South Africa who may be studying similar topics). The possibilities for this excite me. This is vocation. This was definitely a calling.
Somewhere in the Space between Good and Evil
When I was a little girl I never wanted to go to heaven. My logic was that because hell was hot, then heaven must be cold and being a Southern girl, I hated cold weather. Hell was never really used as a threat in my home, I just knew and heard that you have to be good so that you don’t end up there. I remember thinking that because Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins that it made no sense to me why there would ever be a hell?
My mother always told me to be a good person and more than any other religious teachings she taught me that you do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I still find supreme truth in that statement and with very few addendum see how it governs much of my interaction with others. In my home I do not ever remember a cross, a painting, or anything remotely religious besides a Bible that my mother later gave to me; she had been given it when my Grandfather passed away and it is enclosed in a wooden case. It was the only book (besides Eat Pray Love–more about that later) that I brought with me when I moved to San Diego. I do remember praying when I was little, right before bed. A practice I still continue, only I tend to talk to God more often than once a day, it is most commonly an all day conversation interrupted by brief periods of personal interactions.
When I was in high school I used to go to church with my friend KSO and her family, it was a Baptist church which I’d always heard was lively and dramatic (my family was mostly Methodist and my immediate family was Catholic). I enjoyed it and always enjoyed the music that was played. One particular sunday the sermon was from the book of Matthew, now one of my favorite books, and the scripture of focus was the story of Peter walking to Jesus:
New International Version (NIV)
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said,“why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
That day after hearing the Pastors words about faith, not doubting, and keeping our eyes fixed on God even despite storms I decided to go up during alter call and get what the Baptist call “saved”. Only, it didn’t make any sense to me because it was to my understanding that Jesus died for us and on the day of his resurrection we were saved. Why did I need to be saved again? I believe in that day, the day that I felt so very connected to holy teachings I began to feel very skeptical of holy institutions and practices. There was too many unknowns and too many people saying too many different things. To me, God was not subject to interpretation, God just was. Period.
As my mother began to be involved with RCIA (Rites of Christian Initiation) classes, the dialogue surrounding religion became present in my home. I remember hearing in church that homosexuality was sinful, and I knew that even premarital sex was sinful to the Catholics. I wondered how my mother could reconcile these things as she was always accepting and nonjudgmental of LGBT in general, and I was a child born as the result of premarital sex. What I always got from her was that God does not create mistakes, and that the love God has for us is perfect even despite our sins; and those sins would always be forgiven if we were repentant. That being said, she also asserted, “But who decides what is sinful?” I think even my mother took it all with a grain of salt.
As I feel my current spiritual beliefs are dangerously close to mysticism, I think that perhaps the lack of religious structure in my home allowed for my free reign of spiritual exploration. I wondered what my mother would think when I told her about the energy I felt. When I explained it to her, her reaction was far more understanding than I anticipated. When I share with her my thoughts about internal divinity and the tao beliefs that our way serves the greater way and that the universe is self-sufficient, she does not scoff, she engages the conversation. I think perhaps that is why I asked her to complete this assignment with me. Absolutely to learn about her, but also for me to share with her more clearly my beliefs.
The first time that I felt someone else must share my perspective on God was in reading Eat Pray Love. By that time I had already had my accident, but I still did not really think much of anyone else who must feel the way I felt about the world and the higher power governing it. My best friend had read it and raved about it and I knew there was a movie being made about it so I wanted to read it before the movie was released. It took me weeks to read it, and even in the middle of reading it I stopped and started over again. To date I have read the book four times and each time I pick it up, I seem to be right on a section that speaks directly to my life. It was Liz Gilbert, and Shirley McClaine, and Oprah, and Wayne Dyer, and Eckert Tolle who opened my thinking and exponentially multiplied the possibilities for spiritual growth.
Even though I ready Eckert’s The Power of Now long before Eat Pray Love it felt too far away from me. It felt too big and in counseling it would be likened to diagnosing the client on the first day, you have to meet people where they are. I wasn’t ready for those ideas quite yet. However, after the voyage to Italy, India, and Indonesia with Liz I felt completely cracked open and ready to absorb more. After Eat Pray Love I went back to my notes from Eckert and they made sense. I looked back on my post about The Tao of Pooh and they made sense. It was like the whole world just fell into place.
When the old man asked me in person what I really wanted, I found other, truer words [than help with boy trouble]. ”I want to have a lasting experience of God,” I told him. ”Sometimes I feel like I understand the divinity of this world, but then I lose it because I get distracted by my petty desires and fears. I want to be with God all the time. But I don’t want to be a monk, or totally give up worldly pleasures. I guess what I want to learn is how to live in this world and enjoy its delights, but also devote myself to God.” Ketut said he could answer my question with a picture. He showed me a sketch he’d drawn once during meditation. It was an androgynous human figure, standing up, hands clasped in prayer. But this figure had four legs and no head. Where the head should have been, there was only a wild foliage of ferns and flowers. Then there was a small smiling face drawn over the heart. “To find the balance you want,” Ketut spoke through his translator, “this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it’s like you have four legs, instead of two. That way you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God.”
And it made so.much.sense. I want to feel God’s presence at all times without being disengaged from the world I live in, how do I maintain that balance of spiritual and physical presence? The thing that comes to mind was a run I went on one night last summer:
Over the course of my lifetime I have had many conversations with God. I have never, until last night, had a conversation with the God that dwells within me. Let me first say that I was very hesitant on writing this post. I have not told anyone about it until now and I’m sure for most people it may be a bit on the edge of outlandish…but really I’m unconcerned. This blog is written for me. And so…
I was on tumblr and I saw a picture of this tattoo, ‘let your fears go’ and I wondered to myself what it was I feared. I’d told myself after spending virtually all day on the couch watching Friday Night Lights that I would go running at 8pm. I closed my computer and headed downstairs to the gym. Before I opened the door I heard the sound of the treadmill going, someone was in there. I retreated. Then, I asked myself again…here’s the convo:
Inner Me: what are you afraid of?
Me: I don’t want anyone to see me.
**Thunder claps, bells and whistles go off inside my head**
Inner Me: Why don’t you want anyone to see you?
Me: I don’t know…
Inner Me: Don’t stop moving until you know.
So then I started running. From my apartment running towards main campus you gotta go uphill. There’s no way around it, and its steep and its unyielding. My legs were aching and my breath was short when I asked again:
Inner Me: What are you afraid of?
Me: Being Seen! I said that.
Inner Me: Why don’t you want to be seen?
Me: I don’t know!!
Inner Me: Don’t you dare stop. Keep going until you know.
Up the hill, past the basketball pavilion, around the bend to the main entrance, up the hill past the student life pavilion, past the university center I can see the Immaculata. She softly demands:
Inner Me: What are you afraid of?
Me: Being seen…I didn’t know it. I don’t know why. Maybe that’s why I’m running. Because I hate–
Inner Me: No. Because you love.
Me: Because I love me then (unconvinced). I deserve better I guess.
Inner Me: Why do you deserve better?
Me: (annoyed) I don’t fail! I never fail. I’ve never failed at anything except getting this weight off. I didn’t fail at calculus. I didn’t fail at biology. I didn’t fail at graduating or friendships or anything. I DON’T FAIL but I’m failing at this. I always do.
Inner Me: Why didn’t you fail at calculus?
Me: I got a tutor.
Inner Me: Why didn’t you fail at biology?
Me: I stayed after…got help from the teacher. Okay I’ve asked for help. I get it, but I’ve asked for help with this too. I’ve asked people what worked for them, how they did it. I have tried but nothing ever sticks…it always falls apart.
Inner Me: Haven’t you lost 60 lbs?
Inner Me: How did you do it?
Me: I starting eating differently.
Inner Me: Who helped you?
Me: Um…I don’t know. No one I guess.
Inner Me: no one told you to eat less junk? More vegetables? More water? Less fast food? No one.
Me: No one. I just knew it had to change.
Inner Me: Why do you deserve better?
Inner Me: *waits*
Me: I am a divine being. And I’m divinely made.
Inner Me: Go on…
Me: This body isn’t mine…its like a shell or a storm cellar. I’ve retreated here because…because I don’t want to be seen.
Inner Me: Rest.
By this time I’d made it clear across campus. When I got home later I mapped it out and its about 1.3 miles. I got there in just over 20 minutes. It felt like moments. I sat on the balcony and looked out into the ocean. It was dark, but I could see the city and Sea World all lit up. I put my legs up on the railing, and I closed my eyes and prayed. Meditated really…and when I felt the time was right, I got up to head home. I walked with a clear mind until I got back to another hill.
Inner Me: Why don’t you want to be seen?
Me: I don’t know…I think maybe I let it take the pressure off of me; my body.
Inner Me: Explain.
Me: Well, like I don’t have to worry about attention or anything if I am not eye-catching. There’s a lot I’m supposed to do. A lot I’m sure to accomplish, maybe people won’t expect it out of me if they can’t really see me.
Inner Me: because then?
Me: Because then if I fail, they would have expected it.
Inner Me: Will you fail though?
Me: No. I never fail.
No one does. We get exactly what we want. I said I wanted to get healthy, lose weight, get in shape…but more than that I’ve been wanting to stay hidden. So I was failing on one level, but on the deepest level I was getting exactly what I wanted. Now, I want something different. I deserve something different. As I moved I kept repeating to myself “I am a divine being. I am divinely made.” I asked for breath and the wind blew. I asked for strength and I felt the ground bend to my will. I got a cramp at one point and I slowed, Inner me said “Acknowledge it. It hurts. Keep going.” So I did. This voice…it is my voice but it is soft and stern. There is no arguing with it. My voice is much more fickle and unsure. Inner me is always certain and direct.
When I got home my entire body was vibrating. I was a sweaty mess and collapsed on the sofa noticing how I could see the vibrations moving through me. I told myself Thank You.
Me: Did I just become a runner?
Inner Me. You just became yourself.
Me: Even better.
Inner Me: Infinitely better.
The conversation was so perfectly clear and so very poignant that in my account of spiritual moments in my life it is definitely a turning point. It is the point when the dialogue between my inner self and my ego self became strong, it was then when all the things I knew must have been true became absolutely true for me. It was when meditation and church and all those things that are concentrated spiritual energy became part of my every day experiences, at least in a way that I could recognize and grasp. It was literally when I became my Self.
Two Days, One Seed
There are two days that have made lasting impressions on me and showed me very clearly my own divinity; those two days are the day of my accident and the day I meet the healer. I have mentioned both before but to my knowledge never together and certainly never to the extent to which I will now speak of them.
The day of my accident when I woke up on the ground, after having been thrown from a flipping suv into a concrete median I woke up to silence. I remember it as though I am still digging gravel and glass out of my skin. I did not hear brakes, horns, nothing of the world around me. I was told to get up and get the others. I moved to all fours and pushed myself up. I will never forget the woman who lent me her cell phone to call home. I think of her often. I pulled them all out of the car. Roof caved in, doors permanently shut, all but one. Out through the windows. My sisters white coat stained with blood. And then they took me…in the ambulance as I fought off oxygen assuring them I was fine I wondered if I was. I was told I couldn’t move my head. I was told my neck was broken but I didn’t feel that way. As a matter of fact, I cannot ever recall feeling broken. I was told I was okay and I believed it. Before I woke I asked if I was dying, and before I got an answer I stated very clearly that I was not ready. And I knew from the time I picked myself off the ground that my life was not my own. I stayed but it wasn’t because I, Jessica, it was because of something far greater.
The day Dr. Kim invited the healer to class I remember being excited to hear her story. To hear how she knew and how she came to trust her gift so fully. Struggling with my own, then recent news of being an empath and a lingering request made by a stranger while in recovery from my car accident to “always share my story,” I wanted to learn how. Little did I know she had a car accident too. Sometimes I can hear about them, the facts and see the wreckage and even casualties and be unaffected. Then other times…I cried from the time she opened her mouth until the time she left. I wanted so desperately to hug her. Never before had I seen such an accurate depiction of myself in someone else. She was white light. Unmistakable. She was energy of the purest kind and I knew when she spoke her words came from a voice not many are accustomed to using. She was tired afterwards. I felt if I touched her I would implode. As much as I craved the affection I was too afraid to truly experience it.
And now I sit holding these two remarkable days, one in each palm. Armed with the imagination of all the things that make me extraordinary. My ability to feel the energies of others. My ability to see it. My premonitions. My magnetism. My knowing. And most recently my hands. I sit sure that as I tell this story of what I am that it will awaken something in someone else to question their own limitlessness.
I challenge myself with the same. To be courageous enough to live in the sunshine. To be able to trust myself and to be assured in the validity of my own knowing. To eradicate ‘should’ from my vocabulary spoken and otherwise. To be myself.
The entire universe is waiting for us to wake up deaf to the noise, and fearlessly Be in our own skin. The part that we each plays is integral to the success of us all. We are separate and one. And so to begin the adventure, I must first leap. But not before I see and I know, ahem, Know that I will fly. That was was taught in two days…I am possibility. This is my chapter in our story. What will you add to it?
What does it look like when your life catches on fire?
When you set your trail ablaze with passion rather than smolder in mediocrity…what does it feel like to be the sun?
Giver of energy for the whole of all things, light in the sky and breath in the lung, what is it like to be vitality?
Refusal to lie down, you rise and you fall–both are necessary for the dance. But the way you mark the sky clears any sadness one might have for an ending. Standing ovation and tears on the lashes of babes for such an awe inspiring exeunt.
I want to be life.
I want to be light.
I want to dance.
and so I will study the sunrise as my first lesson. You will be my only teacher; Baryshnikov doesn’t begin to rival your lines nor Copeland your passion. My master and I your apprentice, teach me love.
Paikea and the Stolen Love Letter
A few weeks ago I went to the doctor. Nothing major, but while I was in the waiting room I was reading O magazine and saw a “What I know for sure” about body image. I quickly skimmed the article but got called back. I very quietly tore the page out of the magazine and stuck it in my bag where it stayed for weeks.
When I finally thought to pull the article out I read it, fully, and I was so happy I stole it. In it contained the following:
Sixteen years ago, when spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson was first on my show to talk about her book A Return to Love , I asked her why she thought I was having such struggles with my weight. She wrote me a letter saying this: “Until you accept the magnitude of your function, your unconscious mind will sabotage any attempt to show your full magnificence. In fact, if you diet and lose weight, your mind will either put the weight back on or trip up in some other area. In order to lose weight on a permanent basis, you want a shift in your belief about who and what you are. This is the miracle you seek.”
I read the yesterday as the stolen article is now taped to my refrigerator and I thought about it. The magnitude of my function…what does that even mean?
Tonight, I watched the movie The Whale Rider–the story about a little girl who proves herself to be a leader when no one expects her to succeed because she is a girl. As a matter of fact, she’s thought to be born a disgrace because her brother died at birth instead of her and her people began to suffer as she grew. Her name was Paikea (pie-kay-ah) and she is the most beautifully written character ever in the history of film. Maybe I’m bias. The first time I saw this movie I watched it in class and I cried…and I chalked it up to Pai resembling my sister. I was so moved by the story that I bought it yet had not watched it until now. Tonight I watched and cried again this time even harder, I found myself saying to Pai, “nothing is wrong with you…I know what it feels like to wonder what is. Nothing is wrong with you, you are enough.” It was tonight I realized how much Pai resembles me.
I can feel people, their energy, in my body.
I can see things before they happen.
I can see energy around me.
I know when something is wrong.
Admitting that. Saying it out loud with no judgment, and full acceptance that those things are all my truth–that is beginning to acknowledge the full magnitude of my function.
I have a way of talking so that people listen.
I have struggled and overcome just like the next guy, what makes me special? I’ve asked myself this question across the table in a cold, dark interrogation room. I’ve been my own skeptic. I can’t begin to tell you all the things that I am or all the things I am not that make me unique. I can only show it by being me. Unabashedly. Like Paikea.
I’m not sure what the full magnitude of my function is but I know I will never find out by denying my gifts. I must step into them. I must own them, they are mine. I will not make excuses or pretend to believe in consequence. I will not call myself weird or a freak because of my gifts. I will be proud of that which I’ve been blessed with. There is nothing wrong with me.
I sat in a class tonight, not my own class, just a class I borrowed for the evening. In this class, there was a speaker skyping in about meaning making in student affairs. As I sat next to a classmate (from my usual Tuesday night class) I remarked to her how odd it was to be discussing spirituality and meaning in such a cerebral and cognitive way. To which my classmate said, “Where are you?!” To the speaker, and it got me to thinking. When I speak, where do I speak from and where do people hear me (but mostly the former).
Increasingly over the past year I have been more of an open book and more willing to speak from a more meaningful place. The response has been that, in general, I am seen as being very thoughtful, and authentic. My insight has been repeatedly praised and while I could write it off simply as a counseling skill, the truth is I have developed not only a higher capacity for listening but also for hearing. When I listen to people I note their body language, tone, eye contact, syntax, and then their energy. I hear it all with my own body and my reactions those visceral and somatic ones tell me what I’ve heard sometimes regardless of what was said.
But its deeper than that, as we rode home I told her that I missed having class because I know that our class is 3 hours of guaranteed genuine conversation. What I realized that meant was that when we spoke in that class we all spoke from a place much deeper than our intellect. I love connecting so very much that I sometimes wonder where that space will be created in my professional life. As I wrap up my academic career as a student and transition into full time practitioner, will I have the opportunity for heart talks?
It is obviously very important to me that I do, and I think before tonight I may have been very oblivious to that fact. However on this night I was made aware. And perhaps in a roundabout way that was the lesson in all of it. That was the gift. And it may have given me great insight as to how I fit into the world of academia. Nicole mentioned being afraid of being pigeon held (but by yourself) to one lane, one school, one expertise. And god if that happens, let me be painted in your corner. Let everyone know I will be the professor to ask more of them, to expose and unearth, and to love til it hurts. And that shall be my gift.
Life. Death. Life.
That’s the cycle of things, right? You live as a single person, and then you find a mate and there is a death of the single life as it gives way to the birth of you as a cohesive unit. If you procreate with your partner then there is a death of the life you have as a pair and the new life you have with your child, and so on and so forth. Everything evolves in this way; life death life, so why is it that reincarnation seems so foreign? Another day perhaps…
The thing I want to understand is the ebb and flow of this life, the life and death as it pertains to me currently. I believe that immature me who was unsure of herself, unsure of what she wanted and how to obtain it, what she deserved or who she deserved…she has died. And in her place stands a woman who knows who she is and what she wants. Some of the how is still murky but I am okay with that. I realize that knowing everything is not necessarily meant and that in life I must operate with a steady level of faith and trust in life’s process and the way of things. All I need to “know” is that the universe is conspiring on my behalf and relinquish control to a greater source and a higher power.
I have noticed that my morning thoughts and morning meditations bring great clarity to me. Today for example I made “Life. Death. Life” my facebook status and hours later was listening to a presentation by Otto Scharmer where he spoke of those very things. I listened and it was like deja vu–I had lived this moment before receiving this information before. Actually moments before I headed down to the talk I’d told my advisor, “No, I am not upset about Sri Lanka…we have to let it go. Something else is meant.” An hour later Otto is showing us a diagram in which the words “letting go” ”letting come” were present. Coincidence? I do not believe in those. Even the fact that this post comes after I had the thought…to make space for the words of Scharmer so that I could write about the two…but the knowledge that the thought this notion of life. death. life. was documented far before the conversation…it was meant. How can you deny things like that?
Perhaps another birth is that of me being sure of the gifts that I have and the power of them all. I just have a very good feeling that keeping quiet about them will not serve me well. Within the last day I have had another allergy flare up. I laid on my sofa moaning about the itch in my throat and ring in my ears when I saw my new book by Louise Hay, “You can heal your life.” I flipped to the back where she list common dis-eases and probable causes for them, and also affirmations to combat them. For allergies it read, clear as day “denying parts of yourself.” That was enough. I mean honestly…how many times will I have to be told to “share my story” before I quit wondering if it is okay to speak? Death to the doubter and long live the believer, the truster, the affirmed, the sure.
The Retreat and all the Noise
This weekend was a spiritual retreat for our class and we went up to a place called Quest Haven. Not knowing what to expect, I semi-prepared myself for anything. I told Michelle on the way up that worst-case scenario Terri would have us all singing our heart song. It was my birthday so I told myself to just consider anything that happened (even singing) to be a gift, and in that I seemed to find solace.
That morning was nice, I went on a hike with four other classmates of mine and we laughed and talked about an array of different things. We even made promises to take trips and hang out past the termination of our time together, something that I have grown to be skeptical of because those things always sound beautiful crossing the lips but rarely come to pass. The thing of real note, however was the afternoon; ironically so as much “less” happened.
After lunch I walked back over to the labyrinth. I had the intention to try it but only if I could go in with something I wanted to work through. As I reached it another classmate was winding her way through and I could see how twisty she felt. She needed to be there and I did not want to be standing at the entrance hovering or rushing her progress, so I gave her what felt like the appropriate amount of space and found a little table and chair in the shade upon the hill to wait. I sat down with my journal in front of me preparing to write (though that never happens) and it seemed as though life’s volume went from 5 to 50. I could hear every bird chirping, every giggle of the quiet conversation being had down between three other classmates, I heard the wind rushing through the trees, the airplanes miles in the distance, I felt overwhelmed with sound. I felt my heart long for the H’oh, supposedly the quietest place in the world, and by quiet I meant void of any man-made sound. I just felt like I was drowning in noise. As I got up to leave I realized how incredibly tired I felt. Almost drunk with exhaustion, my body found its way back to the Friendship house where I laid down on the nearest couch and fell asleep for what felt like minutes but turned out to be over an hour. I woke up to people filing back in from their afternoon adventures and I was very confused as to where the time had gone. “Is it 1:30?” I remember asking, to which someone answered, “It’s a little after 3.”
Our last exercise was working with a partner and we were to tell them what 5 things we wanted and they would gift us with those things, and then we would take turns and do the same for them. As Dr. Monroe gave the instructions I started crying, I didn’t know why, I rarely ever do. I asked myself, “are these yours?” But I never answered…it is not exactly uncommon for me to be crying for others. As I turned to my partner, Nicole, she told me it was okay and asked if I needed a minute, I told her I was okay and we continued on. I asked her for the following: peace, comfort, health, freedom, and sunshine. She commented on the vastness of my requests and she gave them to me in such a way that I believed her. When she told me, “I give you health,” I took a breath and I heard her. I then wondered why is it that we can hear others giving us gifts but we cannot hear our Self-affirming that everything we desire we already posses?
I decided that today would suspend my autobiography, mainly because I had to stop at some point and also because I believe that I have reached a new place in my journey. Dr. Monroe referred to me as a parakeet in a mineshaft, meaning that my sensitivity to things may serve as a warning of sorts to others. I feel that I have become more open with my gifts and as a result they have begun to feel more comfortable in use. I am less afraid when something unusual happens and have accepted it as my new normal. Lastly, I believe that while I know in the end I am meant to heal, I think that my “how” and “why” are beginning to reveal themselves. I felt that 28 would be a milestone birthday for me and it really was. I held with me the words of Ntozake Sange, “I found god in myself and I loved her fiercely.” I felt there. I heard her, but most of all I heard myself.