Reds, Oranges and Yellows

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The day before Thanksgiving.
The day before my whole life changed.

I’m pushing a full cart around Whole Foods in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I’ve just finished a full day of rehearsal for A Christmas Carol, and am ready to fill my fridge for the holiday. I want to have everything prepared, and special.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year! Hot chocolate, family, fun and laughter!

And this year needs to be the same.  How could it be any other?

My cart is full of pistachios, spaghetti squash, candles, doubles of everything, for me and my husband.  I load up the food and watch it go down the conveyor belt, seeing each item, grabbing a special card, some mints…..do I have everything?

The price arises on the screen at the cashier and my eyes widen.  I’ve never spent this much before, but it’s worth it.

After filling the cab’s trunk with my endless paper bags, I enter my room and lovingly place each item in the kitchen.

I take the bag of pistachios and empty them into a bowl, placing it next to the new autumnal candles.

All is set…….
Indeed it was, but not for the scene I thought would play out.

 

It felt strange to arise on Thanksgiving Day without my husband, but he was flying in, so I made the annual cinnamon rolls, and watched the parade with my fellow cast members.

We can’t wait to meet your husband!

And I waited in anticipation.

Upon his arrival, I was giddy like a puppy.  I showed him all the food I had bought, the candles, and placed the bowl of pistachios in front of him.

Something was off….

And while we were talking, he ate handfuls of pistachios…forming a giant pile of shells on the table, while his suitcase stood unpacked against the wall.

We had a quick turnaround before heading to the company Thanksgiving dinner my director was hosting at her home.  My husband secluded himself in the TV room, and watched football.  This was very odd behavior.  He was also an actor and usually so social.

After dinner, the group all decided to make gingerbread houses, and create teams, having a fun contest.  He declined, saying he wanted to watch football.

As I formed the house with each piece, spreading icing and creating the foundation, I saw his face in the opposite room, the lights of the TV bouncing off a distant expression.

Why was I forming a home without him?
It may have been made of gingerbread and gumdrops, but a tightness that had been building in me for months was rising.

And soon we were heading back to my apartment, leaving the gingerbread house to my director’s daughter who had such a fun time creating it with me.

And upon entering, I was invited to sit down to hear the words that would change my life, on Thanksgiving.

 

I don’t think I want to be married to you anymore
I don’t think I love you anymore

But the fridge is full.
But I bought special candles.
But I got you a bowl full of pistachios.
But….we’ve been married for 14 years.
But……..we’ve been trying to have a family………

And the ground opened up, and all I knew of my life began to burn.

In a fire so bright, flickering like the vibrant leaves falling outside in reds, oranges and yellows.

On Thanksgiving Day.

 

Two months later, I was sitting, weeping in a spacious apartment in New York.  The walls were so white, and the January wind blew outside the glass windows as I huddled in heartbreak.  A friend had introduced me to the apartment’s owner, a writer, who opened her home and invited me in for tea and support.

She listened with compassion to my story and shared her own journey from a deep depression to forming a new life and finding love again. There was so much to take in, I asked if she had any paper I could write down her wisdom on.

She handed me two bright yellow sheets.

I wrote furiously in between my tears all she shared, specifically a tool that had brought her out of her darkness.

Gratitude.

Every day, write down what you are grateful for. Write down your victories.  If your greatest accomplishment was folding laundry, then celebrate.

And so it began.

At first it was a memo in my phone.
Then a writing pad.
Then a journal, and another.

Every day, before closing my eyes, I would reflect on what I was grateful for and celebrate.

And then I started to begin my day with gratitude, turning off my alarm and sitting upright in the darkness, saying out loud, simply,

I am grateful for sleep
I am grateful for this bed
I am grateful for this apartment

And so it began.

The healing.
Building a new life.
Forgiving myself.
Asking for help.

And then Creation, pouring out of me in my performance, in my artistry.  The chakra system, that had been a distant understanding before my divorce, now glowed brightly as I held my belly.  And the color of Creativity?  Orange.

And finding my voice that had been locked for so long, now flowing so freely again in my written word.

Finding my Creative purpose, launching a global business and community to empower artists to success.

Finding and forming a life I never imagined, one so much richer than before.

Finding you.  All on this Thanksgiving Day.

 

I look outside the window of my bedroom at my parents’ house.  There is a giant tree in the front yard, and the sunlight is reflecting off the autumnal leaves, in vibrant colors like fire.

Reds, oranges, and yellows.

The red of that day four years ago, the burning of what used to be, the panic and fear of my former life.  The yellow of those sheets and the wisdom of the writer’s compassion in January of 2013.

The orange of my internal fire, my Creative center glowing in all it’s bright Chakra light.

And the tool that ties it all, and was there even before….when I used to arise with hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls.

The heart of why we gather on this day.

The heart of what I feel for this path.

Gratitude.

It saved my life.

 

Today, I celebrate you, and the path that has led me to you, in all it’s vibrant colors.

Today, I ask…what are you grateful for?

Colorful Opening

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lucid:
1) easily understood; completely intelligible or comprehensible.
2) characterized by clear perception or understanding; rational or sane.
3) shining or bright.
4) clear; pellucid; transparent.

I took an incredible workshop last weekend at my favorite yoga sanctuary, Laughing Lotus, called “Practical Magic: Energy and the Subtle Body”, taught by Justin Ritchie. I sat in the front enrapt, feeling the pulse in the air, the room full of a community willing to learn. We formed a semi-circle, sitting on each other’s mats, switching between crossed legs and arms draping around our knees.

“The purposeful direction of energy helps us not only to get the most of our physical practice, but also serves as the bridge between our physical body and our mental and mental/emotional being.”

Justin spoke of the main energy channel that runs through the body, beginning at the base of our seat and rising through the top of our head.  Wrapping around this centered column is our masculine and feminine energies, forming swerving figure eights, conjoining along the way, offering balance.

My pen translated notes from the circular charts and references.  When Justin introduced his friend Thomas, a lucid dreamer who has helped form a website called Dreamlabs.io, I connected to this subconscious energetic tie, and became curious.

From lecture to mindful vinyasa practice, the room rose from their seats to directly engage the teaching, lined in rows. Spreading my fingers on the mat, I placed my intention on my breath and feeling this flow along my center, a spiraling pull both skyward and into the earth.

Inhale, in child’s pose.  Exhale, release into downward dog.

 

As I’ve embraced my practice more, I have held a greater understanding and appreciation for energy in its many forms. Energy defined by the seven chakras, energy that sticks in my chest and constricts my front in moments of fear and pain, and energy that emanates from a person’s smile when they feel safe and at ease, resting in the blessed connection of community.

We are all powerful beings. We radiate energy everywhere we go, and affect our environment with our inner story, conflicts, love, and triumphs. In a city of such proximity, the urban explorer knows intimately the feeling of a packed subway at rush hour, both in the physical sense and the energetic sense. We can absorb that tightening, the lack of space, and the shoulders curving in to protect our tender hearts. We can shrink in, rejecting the noise, and attempt to tune out through music or video games, but what are we emitting at that moment?

The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body, about 60 times greater than the brain, and can be detected several feet away.

 

I sought out Thomas after class, to commune with him, and to learn more about lucid dreaming. The concept of being awake in the dream was blowing my mind. I’ve always been an active dreamer, and able to remember my dreams. We connected over journaling, and he encouraged me to read his “Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming”.

The next night, I sat at my computer and quickly scanned the basics around their technique as listed in training at Dreamlabs.io.  They recommended setting an alarm after six hours of sleep, to waken the mind, and then go back to sleep.  Since the dreamer should be basking in the glow of REM at that point, the transition from wake to dream is much smoother than earlier in the sleep cycle.  As I was looking forward to sleeping in the next day, I looked at my clock before going to bed, set an intention to remember my dream, but did not set an alarm.

Six hours later, I awoke.

It took a bit for me to fall back asleep, definitely past the 20 minutes that Dreamlabs had recommended, and then I found myself staring at a bright indigo parrot.  He was up on a wire, and opening his mouth wide, cawing, and growing larger with each sound.  He began to appear dangerous, his beak sharp and monster-like, so I shot him with my bow and arrow.  He immediately shrank, but was still there.  I pursued him to shoot again, and he became a sparrow, hopping in and out of my sight, transforming into a dead groundhog that I kicked to make sure it was no longer alive.

Then, I became lucid for the first time.  I looked down at my hands and my feet on the ground, and realized I was dreaming.  I had felt apprehension when I slipped under my covers hours earlier, but my subconscious had already made a plan.  There was no fear here, just sweet awareness. No need for an alarm, because the intention was set.

And to test the state, I tried to fly.

I didn’t want to raise too high, just over the tops of the trees, but I was lifted by a simple push of my feet and an energetic direction.  It was amazing, light, and easy. I traveled along looking down over fields and green. Landing in a campground full of tents, I ran through many of them before waking with a start.

I couldn’t write fast enough in my dream journal, and my grin was wide as my room, stretching with the new experience, and the rush of accessing a lucid state.

The exhilaration wasn’t just from being “awake”, but from the clarity of the moment, and the images running through my head.  They were pouring out of me, and I was able to associate freely with them, open to their teaching, and now possessing a felt physical sensation.

I hadn’t understood what lucid meant, until I spread my fingers in the midst of a dream.  This process seemed to be done through me, despite my fears and hesitation. There was a flow from the workshop to my pen scrawling madly across the page on an early morn, and I felt the tickle of a feather on my back, from wings that had taken their first energetic flight.

Where to next?

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