Thursday, August 25, 2011

Soul In My Shoes

Lately I have become fascinated with reality talent competitions. I'm not usually a big fan of reality television, so it's made me reflect on the reason why I am so drawn to them. Okay, I admit that shows like So You Think You Can Dance appeal to me because dance is one of the great loves of my life, but since the season ended I have moved on to other competitions. The last time I got one of these television fascinations it was for home shows, and a few months later we moved into our new home. So, what am I researching now?

Although I am inherently a competitive person (just ask my husband who says that the first time he played a board game with me he was not prepared for how serious I was about winning), something keeps me from going after what I want. I walk all the way up to the starting line, but I don't run when everyone else does. It's my Achilles heel. And I wonder what am I carrying around that makes me so hesitant to try.

"16 Hands & Feet"
from community art experience led by artist Michel Groisman 
I spend a lot of time in comparisons--measuring whether or not I have anything unique to offer--that I lose my focus, I lose my vision, I lose the things that got me to that moment in the first place. It's like I'm waiting for someone to find out I'm a fraud. So I hide in the background where it is much easier to save face when it doesn't work out with the excuse that I need another class, another skill, another person to get me there. But what if being me is enough? 

I think watching these reality shows is a study in what it takes to get past that starting line. And what it takes to stay in the competition. What I see celebrated on these programs is contestants revealing themselves to the world, even if they reveal things that might otherwise be perceived as limitations. Over and over the judges encourage the contestants to show who they are, go below the surface, be authentic. Any contestants who try to glaze over who they are and blend in with the crowd are gone from the competition sooner rather than later. Why is this? I think we are hungry for authenticity. The world is so full of commodities that we are drawn to the real thing, the individual creation, anything that has a stamp of soul.

Maybe that's the key to getting over that starting line--remembering that the best competitors run their own race. I think I knew this at twelve when I stepped on to the Waldorf Astoria stage to compete in my first national dance competition. I was probably not the best dancer in the competition, but it didn't stop me from entering. I put on my ballet slippers and won third place.

Time to remember what it felt like to put my soul in my shoes.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Heaven and Earth

My Father and I have developed a running joke about astrology. He used to roll his eyes when I would talk about the sun, moon and stars. He still rolls his eyes, but now he also laughs and quotes Hamlet:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. (1.5.166-7)

I think Shakespeare was on to something.

I get a lot of rolled eyes when I talk about astrology, but I get just as many expressions of relief—relief when I describe some planetary transit that sums up the current conflict in someone else's life. I had this experience the other day while sitting in a cafe having tea with a friend on the eve of a full moon. My friend was relieved to hear that the pressure she was feeling might have its origin outside her. Our conversation also seemed to bring relief to the woman listening in from the table next to us who exclaimed, “Oh, it's a full moon!” and seemed to exhale for the first time since she sat down.

Photo by Kathleen Keagy
For me there is no question about the power of celestial bodies to impact our lives here on earth. I can feel it. No one has to tell me that the moon is full, my body and my emotions swell up like the tides. And when Mercury is in what is called retrograde motion (passing between the earth and the sun while orbiting), it feels like I am walking around with a blind spot, causing all my perceptions to be slightly off.

I find it freeing to see my life through the lens of these cycles. Astrology reminds me that what I feel is not necessarily originating inside me—that I am always responding to energy from other people, the earth and even the movement of celestial bodies millions of miles away. When I pay attention to cycles like the phases of the moon, I can unclench my teeth and release the need to be in a good mood with the same patience level and the same level of optimism every day. With the gift of perspective from the map in the sky, I point my surfboard in the direction of the wave I'm on and get the best ride I can instead of wishing for some other wave, or worse, paddling against the wave as it crashes on top of me.

Surfing the celestial waves. My sport of choice these days.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mommy Days

“Tomorrow is Mommy Day,” I whispered as I kissed my little girl at bedtime last night. Not Mother's Day, but Mommy Day. Mother's Day is about celebrating mothers. Mommy Day is about trying to recapture for just a moment the kind of connection my daughter and I had when she was a baby--before the outside world meant anything to her and when nothing meant as much to me as holding her in my arms.

For the past two years my daughter has attended preschool three days a week, leaving the other two days open for other adventures. Together we dubbed them “Mommy Days,” our days to stay in our pajamas if we wanted for as long as we wanted. Or to see our neighborhood friends and play in the park. Or to run errands holding hands down the aisles. Or to go out to lunch, one of my daughter's favorite activities (as much for the people watching as the food). It doesn't matter what we do as long as we do it together.

Photo by Shawn Keagy
Well, I have Mommy Days five days a week for the next month. Since her preschool was year-round, I haven't had that experience for two years. I have to admit that dread set in as the reality approached. How would I ever get anything done with her under foot for a straight month?

But a strange thing is happening. I am enjoying the freedom of not having to sprint out the door to get to school in the morning. I like that we can stay up to read that extra story. And most of all I am enjoying seeing her so clearly as we explore places we haven't been in ages or fold laundry in the hallway. I was worried that we might drive each other crazy, but what I am realizing is that most of our arguments are about time--trying to get where we need to go and do what we need to do. And that over the next five weeks, we are being given the gift of time just before the time-clock of school presses in between us. Sure, it won't be all whim and whimsy, but without the required interruption of our time together, there is room to breathe and to be.

Here's to being five-years-old all over again.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Knowing What I Know

I am psychic. There, I've said it. In fact, I grew up in a house of psychics. We just never identified ourselves by that name. But we knew things. We knew lots of things we never said. We knew things and pretended that we didn't. There is power in knowing and that power scared me away from my abilities. I am afraid to be powerful. I am afraid to know what I know. Because when I know the truth, I have to live it. I have wasted a lot of energy trying not to know what I know. Pretending for the sake of acceptance, which by the way, never came.

I grew up profoundly lonely because of my clairvoyance, but I was never given permission to feel my loneliness because there was nothing apparently broken about my childhood. I had a stable home life with enough to eat, a roof over my head and opportunities to grow. And I have always known that I am loved profoundly by my family.

But knowing things as a child is really painful when no one believes you. When they write you off as too sensitive or too young to have a grasp on the more complex pieces of life. My family likes to tell the story of my father having to turn me upside-down at the back of a church at a wedding when I was four-years-old because I was choking on a lifesaver. The groom turned out to be an alcoholic and child molester. Coincidence? When you read energy, it sure has a way of expressing itself.

Photo by Kathleen Keagy
Friends were a challenge. I vibrated on a different frequency and could only pretend to be like them. Until I entered college and found myself among artists, I didn't fit at all. And when I entered the relationship phase of my life, clairvoyance nearly drowned me. Nobody wants you to see what they are hiding, and it wasn't the best use of my talents to try to be clairvoyant for my partners. I gave away a lot of my energy trying to nuture them.

I have kept my abilities under wraps for a long time, but when my daughter was born five years ago my ability to see things turned up a notch. Well, to be more accurate, my ability to hear things (since I tend to hear words rather than see images) expanded after developing a sensitivity to her energy inside me. I started reading books about being highly sensitive, but they made me feel broken, confirming all the garbage I had internalized as a child about something being wrong with me because I felt so much. And I spent a lot of time on the Internet researching the phenomena I was experiencing and looking for affirmation. 

After struggling in near silence for three years, I found a good teacher who is not only a trained psychic, but one of the most grounded people I know. (That's one of the stereotypes about people with psychic abilities--that we don't have our feet on the ground.) Found her intuitively, of course. And sitting in Kris Cahill's psychic meditation classes, I no longer feel alone or unusual. So that's why I'm making the point to say it publicly. I am clairvoyant and psychic. There are so many voices that want to make you feel bizarre for being sensitive to energy (because that's really the heart of being psychic), but I'm not falling for it anymore. As a friend once told me, “There's nothing really special about it. There are a lot more of us than you think.”

So go ahead and add me to the tribe.