While I’m drinking my pumpkin spice smoothie and still on my workout high from my spin class this morning, I was reminded that there are a few more days to go before we wrap up another year – 2016 – like it or not, we are closing out the old and ringing in the new soon. I left my spin class asking myself, “Well, Athea…How are you going to wrap up this year?”
Honestly, I haven’t really thought about the end of the year. For quite some time now I’ve stopped thinking of time in these packaged terms. However, it is a celebratory moment each time the Earth makes it a full cycle around the sun. And yet, there’s something enticing about closing things out and starting new. Most of this process however takes place in our own minds. It’s a mindset shift. As a culture, we get to celebrate this mindset shift together. Though, there’s a caveat. We must make that choice.
But, before I go to my 2017 mindset shift, I felt compelled to reflect on where I’ve been this past year and to share with you how I will close it out. This time last year I declared 2016 the year of my spiritual Wonder Woman. In my quest to reflect and move forward, here’s a snippet of my adventure. It was never really about the types of things I did, though those experiences have been very cherished and sublime, it was all about the mindset that I brought to it and my mindset that kept shifting into a little more awareness with each experience under my belt.
My lasso of truth wrapped up quite a bit of transcendent moments. With a freshly shaven head, I was walking through the depths of grief in which I’ve never known or thought I would have had to experience in this lifetime after my ex-husband and father of my amazing kiddo took his own life on May 17, 2015. And yet, that’s not the whole story. Shortly after this tragedy, I was going to get married again to my then partner. Heck, we had just finished our last marriage counseling session at the church we planned to celebrate our healing union.
Something deeply had gone awry. The tragedy spun those plans around and tossed them into the abyss. I was heartbroken and deeply confused. There was no dramatic or messy ending to the plans. In fact, it was quite civil, honest, and constructive. Yet, I was lost in a haze, barely able to function at my optimal level. I experienced bouts of low-grade depression that had me glued to my sofa and away from any humans unless I absolutely had to be around them.
It’s been a gut-wrenching journey that took me through the darkest chambers in my heart and had me question my spiritual worth and purpose. A big part of me had that question looming in everything I did as 2016 came into focus – How could I put my whole heart into something and simultaneously get my whole heart ripped right out?
As my son and I adventured through the Guadalupe Mountains a year ago in the cold and snow spreading his father’s ashes in a majestic place that he loved, my 2016 had already begun, not technically, but in my mindset it did. I realized that I had to shift the question of “How could I…” to something more direct, “Was I willing to…” and inserted here is the seminal question that defined every experience and adventure in 2016 – Was I willing to put my whole heart into something even if my whole heart could be ripped out as a result? I had to detach from the results. Again, I will repeat that, I had to detach completely from the results. I learned that my purpose was in check as long as my heart was in alignment with what I was doing at the moment.
So, in plain English, that means that whether the moment aroused surreal jubilee or panicked inequity at the lack of things done or not felt, if my heart space still felt peach and calm, then I knew all would be okay and that the value of my self-worth or the experience’s worth was not attached to the results, that it was directly related to the movie playing in my mind.
I found that there was nothing outside of me that could value or devalue my self-worth. I am already worthy of Divine Love. It’s a spiritual right. It doesn’t detach from us. And, it’s not some kind of reward we get after following the latest spiritual cleanse. This belief really took shape and blossomed in the past year. It humbled me to the point of being cracked open and completely vulnerable in everything I do. They don’t call it the path of the spiritual warrior for no reason.
I was named after the Greek Goddess, Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom, so it seemed rather fitting that my vision for the year stemmed from an Amazonian demigoddess and warrior princess who was given life by Athena and bestowed superhuman powers from the Greek Gods. This given and chosen path, as I have recognized, was no small task. We rarely voluntarily step up to the moment and say, “rip my heart out, please!”
It’s true. I’ve been blessed to be a witness to so many amazing experiences and people throughout the year. I’ve hiked and ran mountains in different parts of Texas and Utah; traversed almost every last edge of the Texas Hill country for a variety of adventures; finished my book and started the editing phase in what I dub #projectawesomesauce Part II; started my #projectawesomesauce educational resource card deck; danced with a professional dance company for an entire week as a novice dancer; spent a laughter-filled and glorious time at a women’s art camp; swam in the ocean with my son to a deserted island to find unscathed sand dollars; watched UT beat Baylor this fall and introduced my son to the beautiful campus in Austin; fasted on water in the prime of the Texas summer while meditating in the woods; trained with some amazing, inspiring, and seasoned yoga teachers and practitioners; led trainings; taught hundreds of kids health, wellness, and mindfulness tools; interviewed countless youth in the juvenile justice system; gave presentations; attended inspiring conferences; took countless bike rides with my kiddos and friends; had tea time and lunch dates with new friends and old friends; laughed and cried with family; had epiphanies at church, cried with my kiddo at the pain we feel in the loss of someone we were so intimately connected with in our lives; started a health and wellness book club; participated in a book club; started a running club for youth; deepened friendships and kinship with friends, colleagues, and mentees; wrote songs; co-created dances; learned new dance moves; and last, but not least, and most importantly, I have given and received in what seems like over a 1,000 hugs in the past year to so many beautiful souls that remind me that not only am I worthy, but we are all worthy of Divine Love.
I could belabor all the intimate details of my year, many of which have been covered in some form in previous postings, but I choose instead to remind us all that as we shift our focus away from winding one year down and embracing yet another year and glorious spin around the sun, that the most important shift we can do is shifting the movie cue in our mind from the one that is attached to results to the ultimate movie of living openly (vulnerably), freely, and unconditionally loving all things and people, not as we hope them to be, but as they are in any given moment.
Along that same stride, I keep reminding myself to shift the movie cue in my own mind. I can’t think of a better way to honor that process, wrap of the year of my spiritual Wonder Woman, and continue the sequel in 2017 than a much-needed trip to visit my soul sister living at an ashram in San Francisco to celebrate the New Year.
We are sisters of the astral world. On May 16, 2015, I was attending a daylong meditation workshop at a local temple studying with Amma Sri Karunamayi, a revered spiritual teacher from South India. On the steps of the temple that very warm late spring morning, I fell into my soul sister’s arms with a pool of tears and gut wrenching moans. I had received a call that my ex-husband and father of my son left a letter indicating that he wasn’t coming back.
He had suffered from deep depression and alcoholism for years. I also knew that he had untethered access to his gun and his mental state had been very unstable for the past few years. Though I didn’t get the final call of his passing until May 17th (the day after I was at the temple), I already knew of the tragedy. I dreamed of it. I felt it deeply in my body. The body knows best. My soul sister held me with so much love and compassion on the steps of that temple while my heart was completely ripped out.
Yet, of all the places I could have been, I was there not only with my soul sister, but also with Amma, the great mother. I was in a sacred and healing space, but with the news of this impending tragedy, I was also traversing some of the darkest places in my heart space. I was still lost in the “How could this…” instead of seeing the paradox in the framework of “Was I willing to keep putting my whole heart into something while simultaneously getting my whole heart ripped out?”
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was already willing to hold those two opposite truths in my heart. If we are to truly walk our dharma, we have to. I was putting my whole heart into my dharma and simultaneously getting my heart completely ripped out.
I cried, sobbed, and moaned the entire day while in meditation. While kneeling and seeking guidance on this tragic matter, my head fell into Amma’s lap and a river of tears surrounded us. She gazed softly into my eyes and told me, “He will be back. You are so sweet and you are already doing so much, but you must do more.” That was her message. She affirmed the paradox. And that day, I was cleansed in the river of devotion, where love has no attachments or any barriers. I had to love more even when the deepest pain felt like it was robbing me of my spiritual core.
This spiritual truth came to me with much more depth and understanding during the year of my spiritual wonder woman. As I left on my quest that day from the temple, the quest to, as Amma said, “to do more”, I didn’t quite know this deeply at the time, but it was something that became very clear to me this past year – detach, accept, and never stop loving. Not only did I have to do more, but I had to do so without any attachment to the results while holding the spiritual paradox precariously in my heart still willing to walk forward into the unknown field of battle where Divine Love continues to spar our heart of darkness.
It is on that field and with that mindset shift that I choose to lasso as many truths as I can in this lifetime. It’s also true that my ex-husband didn’t come back, well, at least in physical form, but his spiritual legacy lives vibrantly in everything I do.
Amma was right. As I hold the paradox of Divine Love and the heart of darkness precariously in my heart, I will continue to do more and be more than willing to do so without any attachment to the results, but not without changing the movie cue in my own mind. I behold a spiritual wonder woman sequel in 2017.
Happy New Year my beautiful human family! I’m loving you all and voting your victory.
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea