Facing Divinity Within

One of my teachers said that inside each of us is magnificent divine creature, worthy of love and compassion. According to her, our “higher selves” look like angels and are powerful enough to conquer any fear. They do this by giving unconditional compassion to all. She taught her students that though we must put boundaries down in our lives, ensuring we get enough sleep, food, and time to recharge, we must tap into that compassionate divine self. My mentor of many years taught a similar but slightly different spiritual truth. Inside each of us a “spiritual warrior,” capable of manifesting our desires and healing ourselves from trauma. Through this manifesting and healing, we are able to learn what is necessary to move forward and then, teach others those lessons.

After years of daily meditation, epiphany after ah-ha moment, change after shed layer, always searching deeper within, I finally came to that place of “Higher Self” or “Deity Within.” I expected, from my teachings, that I would find some Goddess or Deity that had helped me manifest all I had been grateful for and would help me achieve that which I still sought. I had hoped to find something capable of giving and receiving divine grace and love.I did not find something powerful or beautiful. What I found was a Goddess far more broken than I could ever have imagined. I came face to face with a Goddess of Pain, of Tragedy, of Sorrow, and Death. She was a Goddess of Mourning. She grew up in an abusive household, where appearances mattered more than content. Live a lie long enough, and you begin to forget who you really are. By the age of 30, she had lost all four grandparents, her father, her son, and half of her friends. She had watched as many of her friends were lost to suicide, murder, drug addiction, illness, and car accidents. It was a mighty bitter pill to swallow. How the f*ck was this the answer to feeling powerful, worthy, and healing my wounds??

I believe that the Universe is a giant clockwork. Imagine a giant Steampunk Clockwork with cogs, levers, springs, pistons, and a few steam engines working in sync. That is the how I believe the Universe works, each of us representing one tiny part of this intricate mechanical complexity. One person might a spring that is always under pressure, while another is a fast-moving cog. It would explain why each of us has a different perspective and a different truth to tell, but no one seems to be able to figure out the whole picture. It would also serve to explain why some work better under pressure, and others need the pressure taken off. It deals with our purpose in the Universe. I also believe that sometimes you need to try being a spring, a lever, a steam engine, and a piston, before figuring out through process of elimination to understand and accept what part you play. That’s what happened to me. You need to experiment, make mistakes, and eventually go back to your roots with a new understanding of why you do what you do so well.

It was tough to accept that my part in the Universe was sorrow and mourning. Though once I had, I found a kind of peace. There was less struggle in my life. I stopped caring about what others thought. Things stopped being about proving myself. I found more meaning in all that I did, from being a housewife to making art, from helping to clean up a local cemetery to putting on my black lipstick. Once you know your place in the world, everything makes sense and all you do has purpose. Happiness, as defined by fairy tale endings, is overrated and usually fictional. Those kinds of things are short-lived. But peace can last indefinitely. It is something that lasts through the ups and downs. To summarize things then, just because you haven’t found your place yet doesn’t mean you won’t. And even more importantly, don’t be afraid of what you find. One doesn’t have to be saving the world or “all-powerful” in order to be content or at peace with who they are. Some of us are meant to teach the world strength and light, while others are meant to teach it vulnerability and Shadow.

Love and blessings,
River Sunfeather

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Throwing Out Expectations

It’s now been over a month and a half on HRT(hormone-replacement therapy). Many mundane, yet miraculous things have changed. My face has feminized so much, I am called “ma’am” at stores. My body shape has changed so much, I no longer fit into men’s clothing. My mood swings are mood roller-coasters. My breast development now requires the wearing of a bra. But something far deeper and more important happened. I let go of my expectations.

I had all of these grand ideas about how transition would go, what kind of woman I would be, and what I would look like. Not watching reality television, I was not lured by glamor or beauty. Instead, I had done a lot of research into feminism, women’s rights, and gender constructs. I would not be the stereotypical woman, overly emotional and concerned with fashion. I would not give into the pressure to “look good.” I would be conscientious to prove I was hardworking and concerned with the things that matter most: the environment, helping others, and of course, women’s rights. I would refuse to be oversexualized, put people with male privilege in their place, and would never settle for anything less than equality.

Right…. LOL!!!

While I believe we do get to choose our Path, I also believe our Path also chooses us. I have two daughters, who are probably more emotionally stable that I am right now. I am moved to tears by the word “kittens” and or even thinking “happy thoughts.” I’m also the most fashion-minded one in the house. I have heard the women in my life make terrible comments about their bodies. Body acceptance isn’t easy, but I feel it is crucial. Feeling comfortable and taking a little care in how you look is such a huge confidence booster. I’m still interested in things like the environment. Whether it’s making a purse out of an old jacket, a skirt from tattered bandannas, or a standing garden table out of an old box spring, I love to reuse things. It cuts down on waste.

I still do what I can do help others, but I’ve become so involved with transition that I honestly have become somewhat self-absorbed at times. I have found that it is typically better to wait until someone asks for help, and so that is what I do. I’m too busy trying to fix me. And though I still consider myself a feminist, it is for very different reasons than going in. I just want equality and realize I am now on the outside looking in, asking for/demanding it. I can now see male privilege in certain people. And when I try to point it out, I see male guilt. The situation is way more complex that I ever could have realized, and I am only just learning.

Things are so far different, I think I have become my own Shadow. The only emotion that has stuck with me, through it all is gratitude. I am grateful to be here. I am grateful for my supportive wife and her guidance. I am grateful for my bewilderment, for my disappointment, and for my letting go of who I was. I am grateful for the fact that I am still changing, and I have no idea who I will end up next. It’s time to throw out expectations like an old pair of ill-fitting jeans and embrace the new individual in the mirror.

Love and blessings,
River

MensWomensJeansSizeConversion

A Day of Silence

Silence

I decided to give up speaking for a day. What I gained was acceptance.

It began with me noticing that we speak to change things. We only speak to change something in our external environment. Even when we only seek to inform, we are seeking to change the perspective of another, if only temporarily. It reminded me of cats. Adult cats never meow at other cats in the wild. They learn only to meow at humans, because it’s a language we understand. They learn to speak up when they are hungry, need attention, or something of the sort. Meowing gets the human to change the environment for them in a way that they cannot. We taught them the great language of complaining.

I speak the most in my house, so I decided I needed to give it a rest. I told my family what I was doing. It is not until you silence your voice that you realize its power. I made sure we didn’t have any big meetings that day. I hugged my wife and wrote one last note on the white board for our two girls. “You may speak. I will not. I love you, both.” Then, I began to listen. I contemplated what it really meant to listen versus to speak. What had I been missing? If I had been trying to change things, what if I spent more time just learning to accept? I carried a small notebook with me when I absolutely needed to communicate. I also stayed off of my phone and facebook. I spent a great part of the day in meditation. The meditation didn’t make it easier to stay silent. The silence made it easier to meditate.

A further experiment came out of this. It would become a game of shadow. Times when I would want to correct or change things in my environment, I would write it down in my book but not show it to the person. If one of them forgot their manners, I would write down “manners” instead of saying something to her. When they began arguing, I stayed out of it and allowed them to sort it out themselves. But I wrote it down. This is an excellent way to really get to know the true you. All the stuff we tell others not to do? We do it. At some point, we learned from someone that these behaviors were “bad,” “evil,” or “wrong.” And because we just can’t keep your personal expectations to yourself, we go around trying to fix everyone around us or complaining about what we think is wrong with them. Those horrible behaviors might make them happy, keep them sane, or might even do us some good, but we are too often on our high horse to think of this perspective.

To sum up, I’ve learned most communication is unnecessary. Most people are just looking for someone to listen, not someone to fix their problems. I vent from time to time when I’m stressed. It happens. More importantly, I learned every single thing you could possibly say to another person, you should say twice. Say it once to them and say it again while looking in a mirror. It will make you think twice before speaking too harshly or directing negative energy. Some people are difficult for a reason. Other people are nice for the same reason. Their methods get them what they want. Somewhere along the line they learned that their particular method worked best. Returning the favor reinforces the lesson. And yes, there is always a time to be difficult and a time to be nice. Balance is being flexible. But it is not our role to fix everybody else or their life. It’s our role to fix ourselves. Lend an ear when it’s needed, but your words have power. Use them sparingly and lovingly.

In the future, I will seek to use mine with more love. If there is a perspective I think people need to learn more about, it is one of gratitude. I am very happy with my life. I am glad that my throat chakra is catching up with my heart chakra. 😉
Thanks and blessings,
Waterfall Sunfeather

Listening