A year or two before my daughter was born — just over 15 years ago — while browsing at the old Bodhi Tree bookstore, I came upon a necklace with a beautiful silver amulet. It was a small woman in a purposeful stance. Her hair was standing on end and radiating from her head like a sunburst. It reminded me of the oft feared, and greatly misunderstood, Hawaiian goddess, Pele. It turns out it was her Hindu iteration, Kali ma. I was so attracted to it, I promptly bought it and wore it every day until my daughter was born. What happened in the space of what seemed like a nanosecond was both terrifying and oddly liberating. I ended up leaving my marriage, selling our house, moving from Hollywood to Santa Monica. Nothing could stop me as I shed the layers of discontent and disillusion, tossing them aside like the heavy winter overcoats I used to buy at the vintage shops when I lived in New York. I was in Los Angeles, after all, and the incredible lightness of being was the West Coast way. I felt as if I was cutting dead weight. I had been so wrapped up in who I thought I was and what I believed life was supposed to look like, I didn’t really have a clue that I had choices. Until I did.
Flash forward, and I find myself at another similar point of deconstruction, only now I have a much more intimate relationship with Ma Kali. She is the central figure on my personal altar, where I meditate and reflect. And her name is tattooed on my spine. The force and fury with which my own personal truths revealed themselves to me those years ago had scared me back to sleep. It’s been a long and winding road since that day I took the necklace off. About a dozen years later, I finally circled back to Kali through my immersion in the study of tantra and bhakti yoga. There are several different takes on Kali. She represents shakti, or creative life force. She is held by some to be the goddess of death and destruction, change and ultimately rebirth. In the tradition of tantra, she is the ultimate truth. Referred to as the Dark Mother, she is the embodiment of what we modern Westerners call “tough love.”
Over the last many months, I have let go of many things. I sold and gave away many of my possessions…furniture, books, clothing. I moved my family from a large urban loft space in a luxurious building with many amenities to a petite bungalow duplex with a small backyard. The simplification of my life on the physical plane is reflective of the inner work I’ve been doing. It’s not easy to describe what the means in a practical sense. I have come to think of my life as a living, breathing meditation, one in which I stop trying to figure things out. “Shut up and listen,” has become my mantra for this phase. As I begin to let go of the last vestiges of my design career and step fully into my work as a coach and a healer, I am challenged to get out of my head where fear can so easily be unleashed like a rabid dog devouring everything in it’s path. As I begin to move through life as an observer of my own story, and mindfully dismiss judgment and evaluation of each little thought, I start to experience life in a very different way. Just as I shed possessions, I am shedding the thoughts and patterns that have held me down and cluttered my way of being. Many things I have held as non-negotiable truths turn out to be choices. I am fairly convinced at this point that my path is not that of an ascetic. Much as I love the idea of walking into the Himalayas to spend my time here meditating, I am choosing to live an applied life. I am in it. Living the full range of human experience and all that means. But it’s been invaluable to step back and examine the mental, emotional and physical structures of my life and pick and choose what gets to stay and what needs to go. In the coming weeks, I’ll write more specifically about some of the choices I am making. For now, I’ll just say…It’s good to be here, right now, fully present and living this life.