Thursday, May 28, 2009

Take A Load Off Sally


This week I feel as though it is time to strip myself down. I am not sure why this is, but it keeps coming to me in those quiet times that I indeed need to attempt to carry a lighter load. To be honest, I was unaware of the load that had built up in recent months, but suddenly, there it is.

Funny how that happens. We carry so much around and never really know it, I suspect because it builds over time in small increments. Interactions with the world seem a bit like an air conditioner filtre- the more you use it, the more dust and detritus builds up. We never think twice of cleaning the filtres, we even put them on a schedule and the guy from Sears comes out and changes them. Why don't we do the same thing for our selves?

Meditation. I know. You are saying, "Adrienne. Meditation is the answer! Why do you fight this?" I don't. Truly. I meditate enough to know I need to do it more and that I need to go more deeply into it when I do. Lately, I have started to wonder if it isn't time for a retreat?

Of course, as soon as I say "retreat", I begin to do just that! The little thoughts that start the questioning that trigger the avalanche of doubt- How do I get time to do this?, What if I end up sick like I do every time I try to go more deeply?, Who will come out the other end of it?... While you are not supposed to embark on this kind of thing without some kind of intention, I sometimes think there has to be an element of faith that it will be OK so that you can just jump in.

Perhaps in living with intent and consciousness, we have to be conscious of just getting on with it. Could it be that living with the simple intent of just plunging in is enough? Knowing that we know nothing seems like it should be enough for getting on with. There is no way to see what will happen if indeed I do just strip away the layers, and there is no way to do anything other than just plunge in.

More to come.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Alien Encounters

This weekend, I experienced something utterly alien to me to this point in my life- the ego as a super entity. I have met many people who are completely controlled by their egos, but this was the first time I have encountered someone, face to face, whose ego had actually outgrown the building we were in.

On returning home from a wonderful time at the beach with the kids, we arrived in the driveway to my next door neighbor sitting in his car with a woman I had never seen before. Once we got out of the car, my neighbor came over to us asking to speak in private. This was odd, as we talk all the time (he gave us our Ali cat). It turned out the woman in the car was one of the residents of the apartment building our friend lives in, adjacent to our building. He told us that she had come to him looking for help after having been quite severely beaten by her boyfriend. To make matters worse, the boyfriend was sitting in a car just up the street, waiting for her to make an appearance. My friend felt overwhelmed and needed backup. I told him to go back to his car and tell this woman she needed to go inside and call the police.

Over the years, I have learned to stay the hell out of domestic issues unless there is no way out. They are messy and convoluted and have no end in sight, primarily because those involved have not yet decided that now is the time to end it. After my neighbor went to the car to tell the woman to call the police, and various other tedious events, I got to see this woman. She was really a child- 19, a foreign student at the local college, living alone in an apartment for the first time in her life in a country whose language and customs are not her own. Her ears were bruised and swollen, her nose and eyes were blackened, her lower lip was cut internally and her right foot had been stomped on and had bruises in the shape of her attacker's shoe. This was not a walk away situation.

I will spare you the details. The gist of it is, I spent an hour with this girl as she repeatedly became hysterical and out of control at the thought of calling the police. "He is sorry!", "He is a good person!", "I love him!"... all of the usual things that come from these sad situations. What was so striking about this was that there was so little of 'her'. Everything we experienced of her, from her voice to the posture of her standing, was an ego so destructive, so insane and twisted and in control, so huge it took over all the breathing space in the entire building. Every single person in the building was held hostage to her screams and tantrums and pleading. I could feel everyone holding their collective breath, waiting to exhale.

Ultimately, we called the police despite her protests. It was so obvious that she was utterly out of control and that this had turned into a situation that could not be dealt with in any other way. It no longer mattered if she would loose trust in all of the people involved, her ego was twisting her in knots and was now reaching out to infect everyone around- one minute lashing out in anger and indignation, the next clinging to us begging us to understand and help.

Today, I took refuge in my labyrinth walk. I used my time to meditate on acceptance and to simply rid myself of the dreadful, heavy, desperate, violent energy she had left on all of us. In that time, I knew there was nothing to do but wait for this horrid story to play out. Most likely with this girl in the hospital, because her ego will keep her from leaving- it will plant stories of self-loathing and fear and destruction until there is nothing but walls of cold, slimy terror around her, and hopefully, everyone she touches.

How many people go through this everyday? How many people do they drag into their circle of loathing and distortion? How much of this world's dysfunction is due to these out of control egos and their viral replication?

Perhaps instead of running to the store for Tamiflu, we should all be running to the Ashram for some meditation instruction!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Back To Basics

Well, now that I have properly compartmentalized my blogging life, it is time to get back to the business of the soul (although I think it is all the same). Here we go!

Things have been crazy, lately! Since being layed off, my life has become very, very busy. As it turns out, having time to find yourself can be terribly tiring. I shouldn't be surprised that things like meditation get shoved to the back burner, and they do. Daily.

Meditation has been problematic for me. Early on I learned that I can do myself a lot of damage by just jumping in and hoping for the best. While I can not say I have made it a priority, I have looked for a teacher to guide me through the perils of unfocused meditation, but none have clicked (except for one or two who are way too far away to be anything other than a loose guide). This, more than anything, is what holds me back from getting back on the cushion and digging in, 'cause I do not need to go back down that dark path again!

Until I can find someone to rope me in, I will have to get back to the labyrinth. I have not been in months and it is calling. It would be a lie to not admit that I decide this with a bit of trepidation. What will this bring up? What will I find lurking in my mind waiting to trip me up?

When did I become this pessimistic?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

All That Is Old Is New Again

As you can see, I have changed the look of things around here a bit. I kept coming to the blog hoping it would become more visually appealing to me, but it didn't. Of course it was completely reasonable for me to expect it to get better on its own. Over the next while, I will experiment with a few things in hopes of becoming satisfied with the results (no acceptance of what is, here).

On a related topic, I would like to announce the next step in this journey of mine- a new blog! My bicycle adventures have taken on a life of their own and now require an outlet of their own. There are a lot of bicycle blogs out there, and many of them are wonderful, but I have an idea I want to flush out- how riding a bicycle changes your life. The bike its self is nothing more than a tool, and so I will leave the discussion of parts and geometry to others. I want to explore how the world looks and how we view it from the saddle.

My new project is being joined by a wonderful woman I met as a result of this journey- Meligrosa of Bikes and the City. We find that we have many of the same questions and a desire to find some answers. This is Meli.

So, if you have a moment, or a story to share of how your bike has brought you change, drop on by! Things are a bit rough right now, but as with all things, it will evolve and change over the next while as we find the right voice for our endeavor.

Change your life. Ride a bike!

Friday, May 1, 2009


Just about a month ago I was layed off of my job. At first, I was a bit taken aback by the whole thing.

I had worked in my company for 10 years and was an integral part of my department. Through years of work, I had created a reputation I could be proud of- a reputation for hard work and dedication to patients that others had written off. Decisions made at a corporate level are what ended my time there, and while it is nice to know it wasn't personal, it is strange to be removed from my livelihood from a remote location.
Either way, with the lay off has come a wonderful surprise- I have time to live! So much of our time is taken up doing the work that keeps business going, that sometimes we forget (or choose not to see) how much of ourselves are taken away by the simple act of working. Even though I enjoyed my job immensely and was good at it, it took something from me- my energy and time. With that gone, the Universe is starting to show me the possibilities that await me, and some of these possibilities are things I never dreamed of.

As anyone who has read this blog or seen my Flickr page knows, I ride my bike everywhere these days. There have been many, many changes to my life as a result of this (more on that at a later date), not the least of which is discovering the many wonderful blogs out there that write exclusively about bikes and cycling in its many forms. Through these blogs, I have participated in many wonderful and thought provoking conversations with people from all over the world. Through those conversations I have come to try things I would never have tried before, and spoken to people I would never have met.

Just the other day, I received an invitation to be a regular contributor to one of the SF local bicycle blogs I frequent, VĂ©lo Vogue. Needless to say, I jumped on the opportunity! The honor of being asked is huge, but the opportunity to write and shoot about something that has become such an integral part of my spiritual journey to an audience around the world is something that could never have happened before I was layed off. There was no time to devote to truly pursuing this path, I could ride but not write. There are only so many hours in the day, and they are usually all spoken for.

After months of wondering how to make my life look more like what my 'self' feels like, I now have the opportunity to act on it. Had I sat down and tried to map out how my life should look, I am not sure that this is what I would have pictured, and yet, it is exactly what I needed. What an amazing blessing! I would be a fool to not follow through.

Soooo, if you would like to see where the bicycle part of my journey is taking me, or where a bicycle could take you, please follow along. If you can, find some time that is just for you and ask the Universe to send you something that you can work on to create a world that looks like what it should feel like to you. You never know what will get sent your way!