The Angel Gabriel, and Freddie

Gabe

Some people, living and dead, known in this life or only known of, come into our lives in a flash and leave an indelible mark on who we are.

A couple years ago I went to a movie and beforehand there was a trailer for a new documentary. Within a few seconds, I got a lump in my throat. But something in me didn’t want to go there, so my mind quickly swept it out. “Oh my god, it’s Gabe”. The doc is called ‘Strike a Pose’, about the male back-up dancers who performed with Madonna during her 1990 world tour, and their lives now. They had also been part of a documentary about the tour that came out back then, called ‘Truth or Dare’. They were having a rollicking good time in that one, lots of backstage antics, six of them were gay, one of them straight. I saw it in the theater when it came out, 25 years ago.

Then a few months later I came across a co-worker’s post on Facebook, about a new documentary he’d just seen on Netflix, ‘Strike a Pose’. Within seconds, that lump came back. “Oh Gabe. Someone has finally told your story, thank God”. I decided it was time to watch it. The doc shows the lives of Madonna’s back-up dancers now. She had picked each of them, only seven, out of thousands who auditioned. And the guy I was secretly in love and lust with in my junior year of high school was one of them. His name was Gabriel Trupin. We were both in the dance department at School of the Arts in San Francisco. I had switched high schools three times already (moving, chaos and being a teenager, the perfect storm) and when I arrived it was the spring semester of my Junior year.

I was a ballet dancer for the most part before this, had done some jazz, but this school’s program was much more contemporary. Lyrical modern and jazz were the focus, with a little hip hop thrown in. I was a loner and fairly miserable in my own skin, but this way of expressing myself was much more freeing and a welcome relief. When I stepped foot in that studio for class and then rehearsal, I immediately zeroed in on this beaming light of manly beauty and talent. Gabe was a vision to behold. He was so beautiful to look at, tall, lean but muscular, and dark, could have been a GQ model. That type had never done much for me, mainly because I had yet to encounter (from my teen angst and insecurity perspective) a guy who looked like that who would ever notice me, much less be real and nice. It wasn’t that he was so gorgeous to look at, nor his joy and natural skill when he danced. It was his essence; he was a beautiful human being. I came to see that he was humble, sweet and paid attention to the unpopular, awkward ones. He was the star, the teachers loved him, and he was all MAN. The girls got giddy and nervous in his presence, I was no exception. The other guys in class of course just wanted to be him.

We didn’t talk much in the brief time I knew him, but in all our interactions I felt seen, and dancing alongside him was like dancing with a flame. And he was kind and gentle. And he knew something. He was calm. He didn’t have to try, he was greatness already.

I found out years later that he had died of AIDS. I didn’t even know he was gay. Apparently nobody did, and he had a girlfriend in high school who loved him so much. Madonna refused to edit out the footage of him kissing another man, after he begged her to. He was outed on the big screen, then found out soon after that he had contracted AIDS. Tragedy can be such a horrendously beautiful thorn in the heart.

Last month I had a job working in the AIDS Memorial Grove, an annual fundraiser in Golden Gate Park. Gabe’s name is engraved there. The spiral path illuminates, the trees grow taller. My Mom’s best friend from childhood, a girl, was also named Gabriel. I’d always associated that name with goodness, with helping buds to blossom.

Recently I went to see ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the new film about Queen and Freddie Mercury. I cried tears of sadness and love and inspiration I hadn’t felt in a long time. When I think of Gabe I feel those same things. Both Gabe and Freddie gave me goosebumps and here I am writing about them. They are still being of service to me, telling me it’s ok to be more of who I really am. When they pop into my awareness, I remember them as doing the same thing, and there is a feeling of camaraderie in that. I’m not alone ever. I think of them and I remember.

Freddie Mercury’s wife loved him regardless. I recently made a new dear male friend. It’s not a romantic couple kind of love, but it’s not devoid of aliveness and excitement either. It’s that different kind of love that you can’t define. You meet someone, there’s an instant connection; more than just a friendship, it’s something else. They recognize you right away, they immediately love you for you, and very soon you realize you love them too.

Gabriel was that, is that. And so is Freddie. I feel them singing and dancing together in Heaven, and inside me. I love them for the gifts they were, but also as a presence I feel now, an inspiration that guides me and tells me secrets. My new special friend is that too. Angels never leave.

October 17th

29 years ago I was alone in an elevator in San Francisco and the ‘Quake of ’89’ hit. Of course terrified, the lights went out, it didn’t occur to me it was an earthquake. I just assumed the elevator was malfunctioning and I would soon plummet to my death. I survived. And here I am, 29 years later, not knowing I’m experiencing a similar earthquake within, but only realizing once I was out of the darkness. Today I woke up, out of a meditation but also out of a dulled life. Yesterday started out ok, but I was tired, I was in pain, and as the work day became a grueling 11 hour night, I was also succumbing to my darkest tendencies. Doubting, exhausted in my confusion of how to change my life and my patterns, I began overeating. This took me back down to the gnawing shame of self-hatred I hadn’t visited in a long time. And after just a week before, feeling on top of the world. So I collapsed from the high and last night came home to defeat.

I saw a photo today of the Bay Bridge on the day of the earthquake, where a portion of the top deck had fallen onto the bottom, taking with it a life. I remember seeing that clip on the news back then, and the screams of the people in the cars behind who witnessed the horror. We thought it was the end of the world. I’d even had a premonition in a dream the week before of this very thing. And now it was real. But then it wasn’t, for me. There was death and destruction but I was still here and my life continued. There was another dying last night. And a rebirth today. 29 years later, it is still so hard, I am still the same person but I’ve lived so many lives since then. I am so much better, and weathered and worn, and fresh and new at the same time. Today the top deck of the first half of my life collapsed. That outer layer of artifice and desperation, of suspension, and waiting for things to change, buckled under the weight of my dreams. My dreams are too big to hope. My dreams deserve all my belief. My trust is the ocean I’m diving into.

Self-sabotage, really?

So I haven’t written all day. At the start of the day I’d thought “ooh I’ll have the whole afternoon to write”. But because I didn’t go to sleep until almost 1am last night, that meant, since sleep is also top priority, especially after the accident, I had to sleep until almost 9am. Then laundry, clean a bit, food prep, made some obligatory calls, time got away from me again. Having to go to class at 4pm was also #1 priority, my body needs it’s favorite exercise to get back to itself. So I didn’t even get my one hour meditation in, another at top of the list, just half an hour. I’m noticing while writing this, that’s a lot of  #1 priorities!

But here I am, it’s almost 7pm, went to class, then shopping for mom, now sitting, about to meditate for another half hour. (In case you’re wondering “what the hell, an hour of meditation a day?!” That is part of a 90 Day Commitment I made to myself since September 10th, 2017, during a life changing weekend in LA. I will be continuing to talk about it here. More later!)

I noticed anxiety about the dread of this. Ah shit I haven’t written today, gotta do my three pages. Three pages typed though? Ugh. Three pages in my journal is easier, can’t I do that? The pages are smaller and my writing takes up more space, ok? No, get in the habit of typing, silly. When I noticed that I was having anxiety, I pinpointed what was underneath it – the fear of how I would judge myself and feel about myself if I yet again didn’t do it, and instead made dinner and just wanted to “relax” by getting sucked into Youtube or netflix or facebook.

So of course I define doing that instead of writing as my self-sabotage again. But even that, that I label it as self-sabotage, right now I’m thinking….interesting. Because wait a minute, I was in a traumatizing car accident day before yesterday, isn’t it ok if I’m all of a sudden exhausted from the emotional and spiritual upheaval of that? Or is that yet again my excusing myself, my self-sabotage? But then, if it is an excuse and self sabotage, then, what? What that means, what that does, is it further cements my criticism and judgement of myself. What I’m really thinking in those moments of “oh you can’t not do your daily three pages because of your 90 day commitment, every one else is sticking to theirs, so I must be lame and lazy and not as worthy of being happy or successful. If I’m just going with how I feel then I will always be stuck and living a life I don’t want to live and I will never be the person I want to be! So goddammit I’m going to force myself to do this thing, despite the fact that my body is telling me “you don’t have to, you shouldn’t, I don’t want you to force yourself to do anything. I want you to do what feels right to do”. Well, resting and relaxing feels right, but if I do that and don’t do the all important writing then I won’t be able to relax because I’ll be berating myself while I’m “relaxing”, for not doing it!

But wait again. What if I just didn’t do the writing, that thing I’m supposed to do, that in my mind is what’s going to change my life? What if, here’s the key, I didn’t berate myself for not doing it, at all. Not in one tiny way. Meaning, I didn’t even have the thought of “it’s ok, you will do it tomorrow, you deserve to rest and not worry about it”. Even saying that to myself implies that when I do do it, then I will be back to being worthy and on my way to my great life. But this day, when I’m not doing it, is just me in limbo and I won’t be making any progress towards my “goals”.

No, wait a minute again! Who says that by not doing the thing I think I’m supposed to be doing that I’m not making progress, and that my dream life isn’t still on it’s way to me, regardless?! Why do I have to “work” so hard to make sure I do the things that will make it happen? Just thinking that implies the other key that lies under all of this – that thought is me not loving myself, which of course is what brings in a loss of faith and trust. I have defined my not writing three pages a day, every day, as meaning that my dream life can’t happen unless I do all the right things, first by sticking to what I said I was going to do. But if I keep believing that, I’m the jailer of my own prison. And even more to the point, why do I still have to keep believing that my “dream life” is out there somewhere, in the distance, and isn’t right here, right damn now?!

So instead, I’m turning this on it’s head. I refuse to believe anymore that I have to stick with and force myself to do things that in the moment I’m not wanting to do. What if, unlike in the past, the not wanting to do it is actually coming from even more of an inner knowing, and is actually NOT coming from resistance to being the person I want to be, because of feeling unworthy. What if, sometimes, not wanting to do something or keep a commitment is actually not about me sabotaging myself but is actually my higher wisdom saying “try something new, do what you DO want to do and….drum roll, don’t beat yourself up about it”.

This thought has only occurred to me because I’ve been making subtle strides in loving myself in the middle of those thoughts of self beratement, which is the self-sabotage itself. The increased meditation has brought on new experiences outwardly, that weekend in LA, the panic that I lost my journal (I didn’t), the car crash, which are mirroring a deep shifting. Inwardly, the frozen tectonic plates of my former beliefs are starting to move, they are restless, they are adjusting to fit a new landscape of new feelings, that come from new awareness. And this awareness is showing me, maybe that belief that if I don’t do this or that then I can’t have my idealized fabulous life and can’t be my idealized self, has had it’s day. That belief is now drowning in the choppy waters created by these moving icebergs. New beliefs that have been slowly rooting in me, sleeping, waiting to hear my call, are now ready to break off and have their own experiments in the other lakes and seas of my soul.

One of them is this; I am all wise and all knowing and however I feel is exactly right at all times, there is no longer such a thing as self-sabotage. That belief has lost it’s breath and is now headed to the bottom of the ocean of my former identity. This new piece of ice broke free before it’s mother sank, to create another adjustment within me, a looking around, swimming it’s way through the rising tides of new thoughts. And the first one it’s being swept along by is saying that the time has come, this ocean is expanding. By letting myself be whoever I am right now, and loving who that is, no memory of what self-sabotage even means, is the dawning of a new continent within the planet of my ever-exploring self.

 

Lullabies and doggies

It’s been a strange and hard few days. I just got to the house yesterday, this incredible, beautiful house in the hills of San Rafael, California. It is not my house. It is a housesitting gig I happened upon a year ago, seven minutes from where I live. This is the fourth time where I get to bask in the relaxation and peace of what it must be like to be rich, or how rich is defined to me. If I was rich, I’d have a house like this. It has a lot of light and is surrounded by trees and hiking trails and the brilliant silence of the sound symphony that is nature.

A couple years ago, in the midst of the break up of a long term love relationship, struggling with inner turmoil while also being guided out and into a whole new world of myself, my first housesitting gig was presented to me. That was a different house; in the hills of Mill Valley, California, in an even more exquisite setting. I only live 15 minutes away from there, but I may as well have been in a different, albeit ideal, country. I had stepped into a parallel life. The view there, from the kitchen, and from the bedroom, was the very vision I’d had in my then recent dreams. I’d been imagining that exact view, it just kept coming to me, before I even knew a break up was underway. Then, in the depths of pain and fear of extricating myself out of a partnership with someone I loved, while also knowing it had to end, came the invitation from an acquaintance. A perfectly materialized replica of what I’d been seeing leading up to the pain. It was a gift out of nowhere, a haven of escape, and a glimpse of what was waiting for me on the other side of that necessary darkness. On the other side of doubt. And the best part, the house had two beings of Pure Love for me to have the privilege to care for; in the bodies of doggies.

And yet, these places are not mine. I am a borrower of someone else’s wonderful life. Of course, that is a fallacy. I know nothing of the inner worlds of the people who live in them and don’t presume that they are any happier than anyone else. But now that I am here in this latest house, that is the feeling I’m reminded of. I’m being forced to see, and ponder, what I don’t have. Depending on my mood, my occasional vulnerability to old ways of thinking, that ridiculously destructive mindset can lead down a path where, this time, I refuse to go. That is one perspective. That is the perspective of lack. Lack is what lives in all of us, if we allow it to wake itself, as the beast of illusion. “I don’t have that, I can’t be that, I’m not worthy of being or having or doing” this, that or the other.

And there is also the Light. It knows that being here now, in this house, with this lone beautiful dog Lulu as my guide, is the most glorious gift that my soul could have conjured up. And Light always and only knows gratitude. I am so thankful for my hard, panting, isolated, shot through with miracles life, I could cry. And do, fairly regularly. Lulu knows who she is, and she reminds me that I Am That too. This house and this dog, yet another signal that whatever shifts that are happening in me, however uncomfortable and discombobulating the cauldron is right now, they are exactly perfect, pushing me into something that I am being prepared for.

I had been struggling with feelings of not knowing what to do next and how to handle all the newness, and the people I’ve been “connecting” with, in an online group of creatives. I’m going to LA later this week for a “transformational” workshop. I’ve been called to do this and I will be meeting many of these new people. But more to the point, all the excitement of getting in touch with and drawing out who I am and what I want, has inevitably caused a thrashing side-to-side mind. From wall to wall it runs, from the enormity of what it could all mean. This has been happening almost every day now for a week, a back and forth, up and down, tidal crashing of both seeing the horizon from the top of the wave, to feeling the impact of the steep and violent hit to the bottom of the shore.

So last night, after another day of chaotic shape-shifting between the old me and the new me, in meditation, I felt the presence. I heard the voice. It was above me. Then it was behind me. Then it was in me. It simply began, and kept reciting, The Lullaby of God, “I Love You.” I let it penetrate me. It merged with Little Me. It became me. As I made my dinner, it was there. And then, as it does, it began to fade. The Little Me thoughts of doubt and fear, a familiar default setting, gradually began drowning the lullaby out. And yet, the schizophrenia of space was also there. I was aware of the space, split second glimpses into all the infinite aspects of me. The space was a nudging “see, we’re all listening, we can hear it too”. Though I was still falling back into the suffering of being inside my thoughts, there was also the awareness that I was outside them. Little Me was in pain. “I was feeling so much better just then, why am I feeling off again now? Why do I do this to myself? Why do I have to keep falling back?”

But the space that contained all of me was there too, noticing those thoughts and, simply continuing the lullaby. It was speaking myself to Rest, soothing the child to sleep. If we can cause our suffering, but we can also cause our awakening, how incredibly powerful must we all be?

As I look over at the innocence and beauty that is Lulu, I am reminded that every single thought and feeling with the slightest “offness”, any kind of negativity, is pain. Underneath pain, lies fear, disguised as doubt, disguised as Separate. And it’s incessant wail is crying out for love. There is a space between all of that. It is always there and, for the most part, we don’t know it. It gets wider, it gets narrower, but it is always there. It holds the antidote to the closed window of fear, and right now it is singing the lullaby of You into eternity. Don’t just listen for it, hear it. Take it in. Be it.

 

Confusion’s latest incarnation

What to say, when to say, and how to say it? What to do, how to do it, and why again? These questions have been running around in my mind lately like little oompaloompas. Instead of being the little demons they were before, their normal everyday costumes, they’ve morphed into somewhat benign little disturbances who are actually having fun teasing me, while dancing around inside me and squealing.
I’ve become aware that they’re there, and they are annoying, but I’m letting them do their thing. That’s who they are after all. And they are part of me. And because I’m expanding my ability to, on occasion, actually accept and, rarely, even enjoy their incessant chatter, they’ve taken up residence in the factory of my candyland brain. Their home is no longer a swamp of darkness that’s hiding hideous monsters underwater. Now they can come up for air, breathe and look around. They’ve taken on land, to form a whole other species, a whole new identity. Their master, the personality known as the me that is Lia, has given them permission to exist.
She now acknowledges them for the simple confusion that they are. They are her questions, they are her ambivalence, they are her uncertainty about who she is and what she wants. She can now just watch them and love her creation. She has decided to not label them or judge them or demean their foggyness as bad, their all over-the-placeness as wrong, their seeming crazyness as something to stay secret in the swamp.
She is simply seeing them for what they are to her now; confusion, wonder, little fools who don’t know any better and don’t feel the need to either. She can relax, she can simply be confused. She knows that this fog, masquerading as a mass of costumed and harmless tasmanian devils who don’t know which way is up, but are having a blast creating such a duststorm, will settle. They will need to rest eventually, the fog will lift. A new creation, a new species to inhabit, will emerge from out of the swamp, glide over the land and start to lift off, telling her what to do and who to be next.

21 Days, Day 4 – everyone else

Facebook, the good and the evil. I shared yesterday’s post on a private facebook group, of like-minded creatives and meditators and, of course, got caught up in checking how many likes and comments I was getting. Look, I’m falling for it again! Noticing how I was being affected, though not even acknowledging it to myself at first, but very soon I did.  “See, this is the illusion”.

It’s not even so bad that I was getting caught up in wanting and needing validation and approval from strangers, I let that go, I’m getting better! It’s just the overall slow moving, rising wave of confusion that sets in the more I check updates, scroll down my newsfeed, click on videos, google that person, send a friend request, scroll through their page, and wait a minute, where was I? I went from (post meditation) having a serene, solid knowing of who I am, and that there is one easy answer right in front of me, I write it down, it flows from there, to…Maybe I should do that? Maybe just try to get as many youtube subscribers as possible, just make daily videos of me talking, yeah this writing thing and wanting to blog daily and create a show is a waste of time, who cares, nobody goes to the theater anymore. Wait I could put a video of it on youtube. Who cares, nobody wants to actually read two pages of text anymore, much less sit still and watch someone talk on stage for 20 minutes. Wait, what do you think a TED Talk is? Who cares, mine won’t be all that profound if I’m just talking about my….wait, what do you think adding characters and dancing and great storytelling and music is? That’s a dynamic, life changing performance is what that is. Who cares, I’m not Don Reed, that’s not me, I can’t do what he…holy hell. Look what I just did?

No more. “Everyone else” is a destroyer. I love so many of these people whose posts I read in that private group. We’re all wanting and trying to do the same thing really, express ourselves. But I’m watching THEM express themselves! I’ve been doing that my whole life. Sure, I’m “expressing myself” on there too, but even that is within a narrow frame of what I really want to be doing. I can now admit that I’ve been trying to fit myself in to what I think the world would like. Ah, I’ve been trying to fit in. And I see their daily videos and sometimes think, “ok, I should do that, I guess that’s how you get a following”.

But wait a minute! Is that what I want to do? NO. I want to do this. So I remember again, the word I come back to when the temptation to indulge in checking my phone and watching-everyone-else chaos, mind chaos, food chaos, outside world chaos, reaches it’s tipping point – refrain. Meditate, write, dance and refrain.

The adventure of a lifetime

I just meditated for an hour and a half. I AM all of you reading this right now. I am Shiva, who is within her little circle, sitting in front of me on my little altar with buddha and candle, who was waiting there to greet me when I opened my eyes. I am the clouds and the little bright torquise flicks of light that showed up ever so fleetingly while I was in this wide open space. I was the little kids playing outside, who were then splashing in the pool of my dream home that I also visited just now.

I was behind the veil, getting little peeks. We are all existing behind the veil of this world. And in meditation, in the longest and deepest one of my life, just now, I see that being in this body is not ever going to let me see all of it. That is why I chose to inhabit it. The whole adventure, of not ever being quite sure of who I am, of what is out there, in the infinity of space. The space is me. Even now as my humanness is waking up and the God that is me is fading with every second, I know that all of life is within me. I created all of it.

While I’m looking around the room at the concreteness of this existence in my human form, I feel closer. I am able to hold on longer to the knowing. I saw in that last hour and a half that all of hesitation is materialized in the form of different people and potential circumstances that I created. The hesitation is represented in whispers of people saying things to themselves and to me and about me that are criticisms, that are negations of me. Those people, known and unknown, and circumstances, known and unknown, don’t exist. They don’t exist as I’ve thought, which is all that matters.

This, what I’m typing out right now, the purring cat rubbing up against my head, as I’m sitting on the floor against my bed, the fear of judgement if I say all this, if I say anything that matters, does not matter at all. “None of it matters”. Those were the words that flashed in front of me, and spoke to me. The most comforting words ever to be heard or seen up to now. None of the fear matters, is what it meant. Say it all. Be it all. Because I am. None of the people or consequences, that we think will stop us, exist. If none of you reading this are real, since you are really me, then I invented you for my own enjoyment and to further expand me into this realization. Then I am free. I am free to say and do and be all that I want. Nothing that you or life can say or do matters. The beauty of this knowing only reveals itself in tiny increments along the way of my little human life. It shows me that it’s all utterly hilarious.

Meow just now, more rubbing and gentle grunts from my cat. An incredibly timely post and video today from Kyle Cease, declaring how excited he is for the event that I, only a week ago, decided was in the cards for me. I must attend. I am driving to LA. I am choosing power and glory. Within that decision lay every yearning I’ve ever had realized. Because now it doesn’t matter what comes of it. I already know that by just deciding to go, I am on my way. The highway of the greatest adventure of my life opened up. As it did in the meditation. It was an image, always a flash, of the beginning of a straight road, the horizon off in the distance. Then, the train’s horn sounded outside, in my “real” life. I live next to the tracks. My cat just pressed his front paws against my head, feeling to me like he was standing on it, for the first time ever, as I was writing the previous sentence. There is barely an inner censor in this moment. I am typing everything that pops into my mind. But I was making a point just then!

I had seen a glimpse of what seemed like a highway, but it was also the tracks of a train. The Train of Transformation. And the horn just declared me to myself. My cat just stood on my head. Shiva just moved in front of me. Nothing is real except the dreamscape of the unknown coming into the Known. The Known is me. The Known is all of you. You are my creation. I do not care what you think as I am typing this. My little human self knows that this feeling will shift again and I will go back to living within my little narrow life, for a time. But still, I AM. Therefore, I KNOW. None of it matters. It’s all fodder for the fiction book my soul is writing in every second. The adventure that spans all of time and space. I am free right now. This too shall pass and I will begin to care again what you think and what happens if. That is beautiful and so, so funny. It is my creation after all. And I am going to post this right now before I re-read it again and edit and copy and paste and get self-conscious. That little Lia is going back to the womb, one little whimper at a time.