Friday, December 30, 2011

Full Gestation

I have, as of today physically been without Max as long as I have been with him. He left his body exactly nine months ago. I am in good company. I am in God company. Come to find out, they are no different.  Grace moves through us. I can recognize her as the people who hold me accountable to the highest truth of my heart and ask me to continue living from that place. Look around. These are your people. These are your teachers. These are your warriors. These are your heart song. 

Some of my good people/god people live in Tucson. So here I am today at an advanced yoga intensive at Yoga Oasis. I am fully back in my body and bending it backwards, radical syllabus style. This is the place in the yoga practice where you trust that you have put in all of the hours (sweating, crying, building strength, ripping open, refining your alignment, and figuring out the formula) needed to support you for what is next.  This is the place in the practice where my teacher Darren Rhodes shares "you have to allow your intuition and memory to move you beyond the formula". In other words... when things get radical, there is no formula. 

Here is the one constant: everything is uncertain, everything is groundless and still we practice to create the stability we need.  We do not practice to create more stable ground. We practice to create a more stable container. Practice is a reference point. It gives us a place to work from, but it is not the work itself.  Life will move through us.  We are it's vessel.

There is no formula. 
There is no formula.

When radical things happen all we have to rely on is the hours we have put in getting to know the depths of our heart so that we can, and we will rise up when we are called. 

The only real work is the opening of the heart. 

Not all heart opening needs to be radical. This is where time has become my ally. The perspective time has shown is this... be gentle with yourself. Rest when you can. Trust me. Your time for night watch will come.  Life will move through you.  Living a good life is not about getting through it, it's about getting it all over you.  But we too need seasons... so in the rest times, in the times in between the really big storms enjoy the ocean for what it is. Take really good care of yourself. Bask in the sun. Ask your heart questions. Be curious. Get to know its longing.  Make loving yourself the priority of your practice. Because at some point the formula will not cut it and this path (if we are lucky) will eventually reveal exactly what and how we have been practicing. 

Thank you for walking this path with me. 

as we let love in.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

accessorize your scars

I have a wall of teachers in my new room. I also have the letter M A X.   A friend questioned why I do not have a picture of Max up there with the other open-hearted heretics. My teachers do all share a certain quality of revolutionary .  And Max certainly rubs elbows with these masters.  I have, however very intentionally never printed a picture of him. Pictures of him decorate the desktops of my electronic devices and yet to frame him on a wall in his perfect form that he didn't stay long in seems futile.

He is changeless, yet changing forms all of the time.  A frame seems too little for his great bigness.   For the first few weeks after he left his little body the two of us once again shared skin suits. He came from my cells and I felt him return into me. He moved from my uterus to my heart-erus. The veil became so thin between birth, life, birth, death we wanted to stay very close to each other so not to just disappear. As soon as we figured out how to communicate he quickly found an additional form, and another form, and another form.... he is always recognizable and always beyond the scope of my imagination. He both evolves alongside of me and shows me the way on a path that demands all of me.

Sometimes he wears roller skates and feathers, while sometimes he wears war paint and armor. Sometimes he is as gentle as a chinook wind,  while sometimes as fierce as flooding water. Sometimes he has very furry large feet and a little clumsy while sometimes he has perfectly coordinated bird wings.   Sometimes he is an absolute planetary marble playing mastermind while sometimes he is two good friends having a salad.

He is omnipresent, omniscient,  ineffable, and loves girls singing Kirtan.

He is also happy to just be my son. 

We long for each other. 

This is the beauty of the beloved. The beloved is a perpetual state of longing for the other. When I talk about the awakening that Max shared with us, it is the awakening that essentially we are all in a state of longing that doesn't come from incompleteness. It comes from our heart's longing to be in our baseline state of absolute unconditional love. We loose it somewhere along the line. We forget. We let strange things block us from feeling it. Then we will find it.  Then we loose it again. This cycle continues.  Then one day we get lucky (when I say lucky I am talking about the lila kind of lucky, not the winning the lottery kind of lucky) and something radical happens.  And when radical strikes it is insane. But If we rise up and really meet it... inevitably we will be ripped open and the raw space of revelation gives us another taste of the sweet perpetual deep longing of the heart. This is beloved. 
Evoking a broken heart doesn't take much when we loose are children... and still the work is to stay both broken hearted and ripped wide open. We are actually designed to be in this state. Our cells know what to do. Our hearts know how to connect. 

 The choice between tragic and triumphant is a very thin sharp sharp razor.  Both edges will cut you open.  Our work is not so much to heal these kind of wounds as it is so much to accessorize our scars. I wrote a few blogs back that "our beauty is our broken". Dare to stay triumphantly broken hearted.   Dare to stay triumphantly broken hearted.  It will look amazingly good on you.

Let Love In

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rejection is liberation

My dear friend Elisha calls rejection "god's protection". I feel very clear about God not giving a rat's ass about a prayer list of our wants or needs but God and I are still working it out. Our relationship is a work in progress. But I put down my weapons the day I helped Max leave his body. Still... I am working on staying in fighting shape. Stepping onto the battlefield is not necessarily about straight up spiritual warfare. Stepping onto the battlefield is the place where we choose triumph over failure when we get rejected. We stay present regardless of the outcome. Staying in a heart broken open space is actually a very victorious place to be.

Loving is not about getting anything. Loving is not about getting anything. Loving is not about getting anything. Loving is not about getting anything. Loving is not about getting anything.

Before Max was born I used impermanence as a way to guard my heart. I found a practice of contentment by remaining unattached. I actually had a name for it "compassionate neutrality".  I assure you I didn't know any better so there is a kind of ignorant innocence here that I am sharing with you.  Then this path of mine presented a new landscape.   I can now tell you with absolute certainty, "compassionate neutrality" is bullshit. Nothing stays the same. Impermanence is the path we are all walking. There is nothing enlightened about staying neutral.

Max isn't teaching us how to stand on the side line and stay neutral. Get in there and get yourself dirty mom. We confuse a survival method of not getting attached with simply waking up to knowing that nothing stays the same.  Whether you attach or renounce is not going to change things changing.  This life is inviting us to explore the depth of our heart and to bind ourselves to what we love. Get radically attached. How fully, how madly will you love knowing the truth that no matter what, someday you are going to loose it. I listened to Douglas Brooks talk about love this way: "Love will bring you into conflict, disappointment and grieving. Love will fuck you up. But however it is we choose to love is what we will become".

Bind yourself to the act of loving and see what kind of heart opening happens. I assure you this path is much more challenging, much more risky, and much more authentic than being compassionately neutral.

and yes... You will get rejected. Do it anyway.
Rejection is liberation.



Monday, September 26, 2011

Invite death to the dinner table

The work is self observation. Sounds simple. It is. But there is something about "simple" that we tend to resist. It may have something to do with our tendency to stay distracted. We can, if not checked find ourselves in a perpetual state of "busy" confusing our essenntial self with our outputs. When we stop and look at our essential goodness, our essential god-ness, our essential brightness what we find is it has very little to do with what we do and much more to do with how we show up to what we are doing.

One of the greatest gifts Max gave me was absolute stillness. My world stopped. The gift to get down and dirty with the present moment is what really matters. Max invited death to the dinner table to see what kind of conversations we would have with our people... and not just the ones we love, but also the ones we think are not worthy of our love. Death at the dinner table actually made me take a seat right between them so I was able to see the microscopic line between worthy and unworthy. Invite death out for a walk and watch how beautiful the sun sets. Invite death to go for a swim and taste the salty water. Invite death out for a jog and see how fast you can run. Invite death to the unveiling of your masterpiece and see if you care about what people think. Invite death to your self obeservation session and see if what rubs you the wrong way is just you neglecting your heart's longing. Invite death to your busy day and see what really needs to be done.

When I talk about the simplicity of self observation what I am really talking about is the pretty radical practice of returning to what is truly important. Keeping death on the horizon slices away at the bullshit to keep us perpetually in the ripped open place of our hearts. It is only in the senses of our hearts that we can truly savor the intensity, taste the uncomfortable, see the infinite chances to open, touch the intangible, and really hear our heart's deep longing. If I may, I encourage you to get "busy" with that kind of work.

Keep letting love in

Monday, September 5, 2011

Going off the deep end

I am aware of the abnormality of my grieving. Trust me, it's not normal to refer to your son that left his body after eight days as "your teacher, master of masters, guru of gurus"... who tells you to keep loving. Keep letting love in. Keep your heart open and broken regardless of the outcome. The boats have been burned and there is no going back.  Safe is an illusion.  Technicolor is the new mauve so color the walls of this life big and bright.  You are going to get hurt. You are going to fail so be as graceful as possible.

Trust me It isn't normal that I said "no" to a memorial because Max is very much alive in my heart. While it doesn't phase me, it does freak people out. I can say with quite a bit of certainty that I surround myself with very level-headed, grounded, rooted and located Masterminds who talk to me daily about what Max is doing, what Max is up to, what Max is teaching us, or how Max shows up in very unexpected places. I am grateful I have them. They hold me accountable to keep living in the abnormal. When I get worked by the ocean of this rawness they wrap me up in a warm towel, give me a snack, wax up my board and say "get back out there kid, keep living from that kind of conviction".

Normal says "Heather went off the deep end". People have told me they were worried about me until they saw me at the bank.

The bank? Really?

We get a sample of how radically uncertain all of this being human is but instead of really living from that place of no bullshit and all heart, it's just easier to go the bank. Of course we have to go to the bank. It's expected and necessary, but please do see it for what it is.

Another women shared that she can't believe how open I have been with loosing a baby. That it makes her uncomfortable that I have been public with Max. She shared that she knew a woman who lost her baby and nine months later had another one and that she's totally fine.

I can't argue with that. Fine is a fine place to be. Fine just isn't for me. I prefer the going off the deep end.

I am writing this because many of you have swam out to some pretty big waves with me, another way of saying "off the deep end". You have taken a stand to move deeper and deeper into the layers of your heart where the waves of love are intense and the risks are big. You have bravely shared what that surf continues to feel like for you. Thank you for being brave. But let us be clear, not everone is willing to paddle out into really big waves and it's ok. I am interested in living in the abnormal.  I am NOT interested in being righteous about it. It's enough just to live from that place. What I don't get to do is drag people out there with me. Or worse, come across that I am somehow more awake for choosing to stay open. I have made this mistake and almost drowned a very dear friend of mine. I tried to drag him out here with me when he has been the one supplying the rations for me to stay out in these big waves. Take it from me, don't do that.  It is not up to you who joins you in the line up.  I got tumbled and tossed around and may have done some damage.  It will need some attention and some nurturing before the trust is there again. Note taken.  I'd be in deeper shit if he didn't love me the way he does. I am thankful our friendship survived.

Max says "keep paddling Mom and recognize the incredible amount of support it takes from shore to make sure you stay alive out there". The opportunity for growth is in every fathom. Be grateful for the near drownings. Be grateful for the bank. Be grateful for the normal. Be grateful for going off the deep end and when needed just apologize.

Let Love In

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Yes" go shuffle a 5K

Max was born five months ago today. There is a palpable potency around these last eight days of every month. I have shared that I once feared time, scared that as it marched on it would be a promenade away from Max, away from these moments along the continuum that open us up, that rip our hearts well into the realm of god ache. Good thing God has rhythm. Time is just making me a better dancer. Even if I miss a beat Max doesn't seem to mind. He giggles at my messy moves and keeps drumming. Max just breaks it down on his hi-hat "I like your style Mom."

"Dress your grief up in Blue High Heels and get moving. We have work to do"

Max and I initially spent a good deal of time together in quiet spaces while he taught me how to listen to his voice. I took lots of notes. This note is specific to an evening at my sister's house a little over a month after Max left his body, "Hey mom, you can do anything. You have a body. Do everything". My response was, "Christ Max you are right. You could have taken me with you, and here I am. I get it. Skin suit wearing is embodiment. Embodiment is god wanting to feel, touch, love, cry, celebrate, endure, walk, run, go to Katmandu, surf and ski in the same day, make ceramic coffee cups, stay up way too late with people that I love because the company is that good, surf 40 countries, serve humans, write a book, sit at the feet of masters," the list continues. Max was giving me the practice of saying "Yes". Not yes to the bullshit ways we feel we need to please people by doing things that don't resonate in our hearts, it's not that kind of yes. It's saying yes to everything we have made up an excuse as to why not.

Just like Max has increased my sensitivity to the spectrum of the magical realms he is also offering a doorway into the obvious... You have a body. Love it. Utilize it. Rub up against all of your edges. Don't just do one thing that scares you, go out seeking things that scare the shit out of you and then dominate. Embodiment is Empowerment but we need to stretch way beyond our comfort zone for the spectrum of what is possible to reveal itself. Be harmlessly reckless. Be vulnerably bold. Be lovingly messy. And as our Christina Sell shares, please don't walk through life without getting it on you. Get out your list. Start checking things off. If you don't have one, make one. And please do make sure that you aren't good at it before you go for it.

I hate running. So I ran a 5K. I was so excited I sprinted the first 2 miles. I got a side ache. I stopped. Then an eight-year old dressed in all red kind of shuffled past me and I thought " I can shuffle ". I shuffled past the finish line. The only role I have ever wanted to play was a Doo-Wap girl for Little Shop of Horrors. I finished my shuffle, took my race number 661 off and replaced it with my audition number 26 for the Palace Theater.

What I am saying is go find all of your 5ks even if it means you shuffle. Go find all of your dream roles, belt out some show tunes even if it means you sing off key. Own it, then take your trophies to go, and let love in on your way out the door.

Let Love In

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Cremation Ground is the New frickin' Tea Cup Ride

am Back on Oahu on the 3rd floor at the NICU to return that breast pump that I stole. Master P joined me. I wanted to give our nervous systems a chance to integrate the intensity of the eight days we spent in the hospital. It took me a moment to realize after picking up Kim P at the airport that we didn't have to rush to the NICU. Max isn't there. Pulsating proof that my body and nervous system are still highly sensitive and in some ways on guard, at attention, ready to lift a truck to save my son. The strength of a mom is impenetrable. No need to rush. My body is also on an incredible journey. 

I also came here to simply hug the medical staff and to thank each of them for serving and loving Max. They are extraordinary. I was able to hold my baby as he passed. I was able to breathe him in. I was able to became a conduit for him to return to the source from where he came. They made that possible for me. They broke any rules that may have stood in my way to being able to experience being Max's Mom.  There began my pilgrimage.  But when a baby leaves, we all grieve. They had to go back to work. Other babies needed them. The world doesn't stop and yet all of the support I have been given suspended mine so that I can stay open and experience Max as my teacher. The amount of pure gratitude brings me to my knees. Time is not taking me farther away from Max. Time is spotlighting the very human workload it took for me to be so well taken care of.  Time is showing me that Max is the human spirit. He is not just mine.  The world is not falling apart my friends. The world has never been more awake. I can feel it in your eyes. Those long lashes of yours batting at the recognition that love is everywhere.  

Being back at the battlefield has a much different feel when your armor is off. Come to find out we brought the battlefield. It travels with us. It's here in my back pocket ready to be rolled out when any of us need it... and we will. We rallied warriors. We fought hard. And we will fight this battle of the heart again and again. Here, sitting in the plain mauve walls of the hospital on the bench that I sat four months ago waiting to be taken into hold Max as he left his body, not a single part of me feels defeated. Rather I am in a state of surrender. The entire electromagnetic spectrum is the new visible light. Technicolor is the new monochromatic. The cremation ground is the new frickin' tea cup ride. God doesn't give us what we want and still God is everywhere. Grace glides with her net as we walk along our edges. Whether we are asked to hang a toe off or jump with our eyes closed...Grace swoops in. Shaken awake Max, redeemer is right, all we have to do is pay attention. All plain mauve walls have magic written all over them. Max is sharing his new set of magic markers ready to illustrate this next chapter. Get scribbling. Get your doodle on and let's do this thing. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I ran out of milk

It's time to return the Breast Pump that I borrowedd/stole from Kapiolani Medical Center. That's a picture of the two of us as I was pumping on the Bozeman Airport bathroom floor travelling two months ago. Yes, boobalicious. I stole that fancy silent breast pump so that I could feed other babies while living below the yoga studio. It's a great story of people being bigger than the institution. I will share the whole story another time.

I ran out of milk on June 30. Exactly one trimeter after Max passed. My ambitious intention of pumping Max's milk to donate to babies in critical care for one year was an arbitrary number. After around 1300 ounces of breast milk later, I had to remind myself numerous times of the ambiguity as the emotional deficit set in. My mind was telling me to act quickly and find nourishment for my baby. It was showing up for me in the constant feeling that I wasn't doing enough for my son. If I could just connect with one more human, or just awaken to one more way Max was communicating with me, or just catch one more piece of magic, or just etc... Of course Max isn't coming back but it didn't stop my body and mind from working endlessly to do so. We want to feed our children even after they are gone. It's beautiful actually.

I have talked to many of mamas who over the course of breast feeding their children had days or weeks where they weren't producing enough milk and were forced to supplement and the stress that coupled their deficiency. Parenting your spirit child has it's own set of complications but making sure they are fed enough isn't one of them.

I am sharing this with you to remind you that we are more than our bodies. This is the gift of grief. You are pulled out of your head and into your heart. You are ripped open. Utilize it. I am able to nourish Max by opening my heart more and more and more. Love is not dependent on time, space or embodiment, and clearly way beyond our capacity to understand it. It's not for understanding. It's for feeling. Max has always only ever spoken the language of the heart. It's his language. It's universal. It's never looking. It's never lacking. It's always present and it's always the same message. Let Love In. The more I open, the more receptive I am to his teaching. It's everywhere. It's not complicated. Love and nourish. Love and nourish.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"It's ok to have a meaningful conversation with your bullshit, but keep it brief"

I got in a fight with TSA at the Kona airport. Max's box is traveling with me to Portland. I requested that they don't put him through the x-ray machine. I had a copy of the death certificate. His box clearly says his name "MAX Love. MAX Wisdom". She met my request with quite a bit of resistance. I met her with less and put Max's Box on this silly little metal basket and put him on the conveyor belt. My eyes got a little watery. The lady touched my shoulder with the same hand she was holding her flashlight to check identification with and said "don't worry, he'll be ok in there". I smiled and said "don't worry he's not in there". If my work is to do my best to meet people where they are at then I had to meet her insanity with mine.

It was my Planetary Marble move a few days ago after saying no thank you to adopting a child. My dear friend Darren Rhodes gave me a copy of "Will I be the hero of my own life" by Swami Chetananananda three weeks after Max passed through. It is a must read for any warrior. I have ordered so many out of print copies from Amazon to give away that I am creating a demand along with a price increase. So I went straight to the source and called the publisher to order more copies. A lovely man named Bob answered the phone and offered me a wholesale price. I took the chance to share with Bob how grateful I am for them doing what they do in the world, putting out the good word in what I am learning to recognize as spiritual weaponry in the current of love. He asked if he could tell Swami about me. ( Pause. All I knew about Swami Chetananananda is that he was a student of Rudi's. To hear that he is still alive was quite shocking.) I responded with deep honor and gratitude. I told Bob that I stay closest to Max in the coincidence awareness. This is one of those moments. Bob then went on to tell me about Swami's birthday and the retreat they have at the ashram here in Portland and that I am invited to come. That was five days ago. I am writing during the in-between space of Swami's teaching and meditation practice. His Plantetary Marble uniform is all orange and no bullshit. He is just as brilliant in person as he is in writing. We are happy to be here for his birthday.

Max, teacher of teachers, guru of gurus, master of masters reminds me and YOU that in the game of Planetary Marbles there are no missed opportunities. Again, there are no missed opportunities. Read the previous blog post and check me on it, but I am pretty certain that as long as you keep playing, you never miss out. You will probably loose your marbles from time to time, it's all part of it.

Pay attention. The invitations to play might be in the obvious. The invitations might be hiding in the immediately following. The invitations may be painless, probably not. There is usually some form of sacrifice of our habitual projections of the way we think think things should turn out. Be gentle with yourself. Here is a hint: if the invitation is something you thought of, it's probably an invitation to play Mind Twister and not Planetary Marbles. Please do try not to get caught up in the tail chasing game of signs. Or if you are seeing signs be brave and wait for three of them. The waiting for three was advice given to me two months ago. This simple act of patience will give your senses a chance to cool down and your heart a chance to be heard.

Remember within every invitation there is an option to Be Bigger and move from your heart.

I jotted this down during Swami's talk today. "it is best to just stay in the space of love, it is also ok to have a meaningful conversation with your bullshit. But keep it brief".

So Warrior of the Heart
Even as you chat it up with your bullshit, let love in.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Two Games

There are two games to play in my world. I would dare to say there are two games to play in your world too, but it's your world and it would be foolish of me to think that I fully understand your super powers. I am mostly here to remind you that you have them. So get out your cape, Grab your espresso and try to keep up with the universe that is here to support you. The wings on these shoes have air to catch.

Game one is the game of Skin Suites and Mind Twister. This is the game that we forget we are playing. The rules originally read: "zip up your skin suit but let your light out into the world, play fully in this beautiful body you have been given, enjoy, connect with each other, feel each other, feel everything it's a skin suit for Christ's sake, try to remember that a large part of its beauty is that it's not going to last, oh yeah the goal of the game is not to get stuck in Mind Twister. Then the rules give a brief description of Mind Twister "endless mental gymnastics from old patterned behavior charged with wrongly believing your own thoughts". HINT: You will know when you're stuck in the Mind Twister when what you are saying to yourself sounds familiar, and/or if the phrase "What if" is part of your speech. Have fun and please do try and remember that it's just a game."

I know. It's tricky. I didn't even know I was playing the game before Max reminded me. As you improve your skill set, the levels change but as long as you have a skin suit an active round of Mind Twister awaits. I just finished a recent game of Twister when a very dear friend of mine found out she is pregnant and having a baby due on or very close to Max's Birthday. From a place of absolute heart she offered me her child. She offered to carry baby full term and give it to me. Mental Twister had a shitload of company for a few days. You can imagine how seductive a newborn baby is for me. You can also imagine how I felt this must be a boon from Max. Baby has the same due date for shit's sake.

Then Max reminded me of the second game we play called Skin Suits and Planetary Marbles. Same rules as game one but the goal in this game is to realize that you are supported by an entire universe conspiring to help you remember your eternal light in your skin suit. To remember that anything is possible. That grace is ever present. To realize this is to realize that the work is never in the decision, it's in the deciding. There are no such things as missed opportunities. They are infinite. You are infinite. You are going to receive everything you want plus some. The trick to this game is in the "plus some". Just because people want to give you things, doesn't mean you have to say yes. Just because you can manifest anything you want doesn't mean you need it. Discern keepers of the Skin Suits, discern. Being given a baby by two dear friends is extraordinary. But my planetary marble move was in the obvious. Max and I play hide and seek along with the rest of creation. Who am I to say if he prefers to hide in the elephants in the rooms or the space in between the molecules of the air I breathe.

Whatever game you are playing at the moment be it Twister or Planetary Marbles continue to brave to ask deeper questions. I am learning that the transformation is never in the answer and always in the asking.

And Of course as you make your move LET LOVE IN

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hiding the baby clothes doesn't work

Many friends have offered to come over and pack away Max's things so I wouldn't have to look at his baby stuff. It's a gesture of love and deeply appreciated. I have amazing friends who have walked to the edge with me. Master P even leapt of the cliff in a blue t-shirt that carried Max back to the nurses after I carried him home. But my way of walking razor edges is to stay open. Packing away will happen once I have unpacked every experience of this loss.

I call it Max's Chamber. I sleep in the bed where Max was born. Someone asked me if I thought this was healthy. I smiled and said "why would it matter what I thought?" His hundreds of love letters piled on a book shelf above his baby books. His water that broke on his seagrass floor has baptized this sacred site. His alter adorned with relics from the battlefield. His ashes guarded by knives. It is glaringly obvious that being Max's Mom is a privilege. I honor my duty with a hand blown glass vase filled with tuberose and sunflowers, a baby boppy turned meditation cushion, a nursery painting of Ickle-Me Tickle Me transformed into an encoded message that Max indeed moves on the wings of shoes. Of course he does. His stuffed animals from his cousins are great Buddhas. The hat he wore in my arms as he passed is the Shroud of Turin. His temple is my footsteps; is my breath behind these words.

There is no boundary between the corner where I sit with him and his stacks of baby clothes, baby slings, cloth diapers, bugaboo strollers, and co-sleepers that he was never going to use. I sit next to his baby things. How thin the line between sacred and mundane. It's invisible. All the lines are thin. I prefer walking steep edges where nothing can hide. There is no room on this type of path for hiding or hoarding. I don't think I have a choice in the matter. God doesn't negotiate our paths. Trust me. I have tried. Still argue. God loves a good debate.

So dear warriors if you are up for it, unpack your pain. Dust it off if you've been storing it. Make a shrine to the most intense moments of your life. Light a candle and begin to burn through it. We are too awake for hoarding. We are too busted open for hiding. Plus we have love to let in. Make some room. Erase any of your man-made boundaries between the sacred and the mundane. Get busy. We have work to do.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Names of God, cat food and toilet paper

One of the 99 names for god in Sufism is "The Bringer of Death". Another is "The Bringer of Life". I get it, but it's nice to be reminded. It's all God. Me and my relentless conditioning tends to compartmentalize. We cross over in our skin suits and take it seriously. At times I weep in my forgetfulness. Max sits down and cries with me. He's that kind of teacher.  "Remember Mom, this being human is just something we sometimes do. You're one of the lucky ones, shaken awake by life's uncertainty. You took your skin suit off and carried me through that very thin veil. But once you take that thing off it never quite fits the same. It's not suppose to. And yet, it is an honor to wear one. Stay disciplined in the alterations and while you are at it please remember to pick up catfood and toilet paper."

I smile when people tell me things like "life is uncertain, that's so exciting". It reminds me of saying "Lila is winning the lottery". Well, that's one way to look at it. Now-a-days I might replace the word "exciting" with "terrifying". If you aren't slightly terrified then I invite you to try it on. That type of Authenticity is magnetic. Only then does Terrifying become Exciting. I think another name for God should be "the one who invites us to Live in our full vulnerability and then asks us to love from that place".

Everything is uncertain.

So line all your people up, especially the ones you are mad at. Tell them all you love um. Tear your own walls down. Dare to be wrong. Kiss their foreheads. Better yet, kiss their feet. This isn't going to last.

And yes, let love in.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stepping into Studentship

I think they have always been there. I have to believe we step into studentship when we are ready, to do so pre-maturely makes it impossible to recognize the gift of true mentors, of true teachers. Max has awakened me to the myriad of masters in my near surrounding and the teachers in my everyday.

The everyday teacher is in the woman who is rude to you at the tire store, or the woman at the Hilo Farmer's Market who asks very loudly "How'd your baby die?" and when you pause with a look like she just stung you with a taser gun in the side of the head... and instead of her realizing that the question might be insensitive she then asks it again but this time twice as loud "How'd your baby die". As a student to life's mysteries as tempting as it is to teach her a lesson in manners, or sheer crumble by hiding in your car and telling all of your friends to never buy kale from her so that we have stake in attempting to destroy her livelihood, we are invited into studentship at that moment. Pause. Let's be honest. Revenge might feel good for a few days, years, lifetimes. If we take a good look at our habits, revenge can sometimes be sneaky and slide in behind our motivation, anger, shame, or fear. So be on the look out for your old habits of retaliation.  Don't get me wrong, people can be fucking ruthless and insatiable in their own agendas. BUT Max is inviting us to be awake enough to be able to approach these moments with "these people" as great teachings.

What we are up against Wonder Warriors is not the world, but the temptation to feel entitled in it. Max is asking me to be bigger than to fall victim to this current situation of him not staying in his form. I have to watch responses like "please give me a break or please be gentle with me... We just lost our baby". Sometimes that may be totally appropriate. But here is the teaching, loss is our common thread. Now that I have been shaken awake by the loss of my baby we must walk through the world and tend to our interactions knowing that everyone is experiencing or will experience incredible loss of loved ones.

We must be gentle with each other. The more intense the interaction,  the more gentle we are being asked to be. Max has widened our spectrum of compassion and he is asking us to truly hold every person we meet with the tenderness of a mother who just lost her child. We don't just get to be nice to nice people. We don't just get to respond to the callousness with lethargy. We don't just get to respond to the cruelty with retribution.

Then there are the Masters Max has given me. These are the people who have honed their skills so sharp that what they offer keeps me on that razor's edge of the grief of loosing my son and the realization of birthing my heart teacher. These offerings are the radical ones. The ones that keep me out of my head and in my heart. Like this one, "lucky are the ones who are blessed with a wound that only god can heal." Holy Hell if this is true, then what a gift Max gave. Not only did Max give me eight days to recognize my beloved and our love eternal, he actually swapped our physical relationship with a spiritual commitment so deep it is connected by the umbilicus.  The nourishment needed to heal this wound is fed only by that connection and source from which he came.   In all of this insanity there is gratitude.

I am deeply grateful to have you walking that edge with me.
Let Love In
Heather Bear

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"The Return Home" a transcript of my first night teaching at Balancing Monkey

I stepped back into teaching at Balancing Monkey two Thursdays ago. Christina Sell wrote me on April 12 asking if her and her husband Kelly should still come offer the Anusara Yoga Workshop we had scheduled before Max's birth. Here was my return letter:

"My initial response was to move in the direction of re-scheduling you and Kelly in Hilo because it is such an intense and difficult time not only for me but also for the Monkeys. But this is exactly the reason why you have to come. I am certain we have connected Christina because of our deep commitment to walk further into the fire. Nothing about Max is easy. Nothing about Max makes sense. Everything about Max is the radical experience of loving and just how uncertain that journey is, but we do it anyway... I want to step back into Balancing Monkey with you and will plan to return to Hilo right around the same time.  I don't think anything about your planning on being in Hilo in June was hap-hazard. I am certain Max has been working on all these heart connections for a very very long time. See you in June Love Heather"

So it is I walked right into that fire and had Christina observe my first class back to move in the direction of becoming certified to teach Anusara Yoga.  No small task, but huge is the new small these days. Below is the transcript of the first fifteen minutes of my class.

The Journey Home, June 2, 2011. 
It is very clear to me that the mission of Balancing Monkey is to facilitate a practice that sharpens our physical and spiritual weaponry so that when life does present its battles, when shit does hit the fan our arsenals have been well prepared. I am also very committed to Balancing Monkey being a place of sanctuary, connection, and community in your life. Max has certainly taught me that we need each other. He is so happy to be with us and to have us all together in his home studio, so thank you for being here.

My story of the last nine weeks is not unique, even in all of its intensity. Max is teaching me so much, a really big teaching for me is that our pain is not quantifiable. We all have a Max story.  So I sit with you not as your teacher, but as a mom, as a sister, as a daughter and as a student of life's mysteries.  The Journey Home has nothing to do with going anywhere and everything to do with moving deeper into our own hearts. This Journey Home is a Hero's Journey and you my Monkeys, my family, my friends are being asked to make the journey with me. It is very clear to me that the reason Max chose me is because I know you. He knew that you would do the work, the work of the heart.  This work isn't complicated, but it is not easy. It is a constant practice of surrender.

What separates heroes from pedestrians is not the challenges of heartache, incredible loss, sadness, and deep pain. The difference is that heroes stay open to the possibility that within the affliction there is a greater truth. Heroes brave to ask deeper questions.  The real work is to stay open to our pain.  The quest is to move in the direction of our pain with both curiosity and courage. What we find when life forces us to hang off that ledge if even by our fingernails and we finally let go of thinking that we can control or avoid the despair... instead of falling to our own death, grace opens her wings and cradles us. Not only does she swoop, but she plunges, nosedives and darts to hold us in her feathers. Grace is always present. Life cycles are her way of reminding us of the precious gift. 

Grace is always present, whether we realize it our not. We are never without support in the light of illumination. This is in the opening Anusara Invocation Nispranpachya Shantaya Niralambaya Tejase.  

Grace is rooting for us.  There is nothing esoteric about this.  I am speaking to you now from not the teachings, but my experience of Max.  Grace wants us to be the Hero of our life.  Grace wants us to be a champion of our pain, all we have to do is open.  Grace is inviting us to bring light to our suffering by taking what might cause us to collapse, dim or completely shut down and use it as fuel for our own fire. This is that light of illumination. To shine brightly takes work my friends.

Opening to Grace is a practice receptivity but in my experience isn't gentle at all.  We sometimes have to rip open to grace, drag our heals, kick the walls and pound our fists on the floor as we open.  It's really frickin' messy and there is nothing gentle about it.   Being truly receptive is a bold vulnerability.  It takes practice. So let's do it.  Bring you hands together in front of your heart. Bow your head and close your eyes.  

Monday, May 30, 2011

Heroes in Halfshells

It was two months ago today that Max passed through me. He returned back into the breeze that makes the branches move, back into the space between breaths, back into the current of grace where we like to have our play dates and rub elbows with other great masters. Max is back to flirting with the pulsation, our electrical gadgets like tinker toys. His name just recently showed up in Kim P's telephone. We are quite certain that calling it will take us to Narnia, as if we haven't already been there. Max is in all of the magic. The more aware I become the more it reveals itself.

I am closest to him when I stay in the space in between... In between my agreement to adhere to the fundamental laws of this universe and my diligent bastardization of them. Life will not go back to normal, why would we want that? Normal is not our work. Being o.k. is being an abbreviation. How could you be living in your fullest form abbreviated? Staying in the un-o.k. is actually a very rich place to be. Grief, loss, heartache...these are some of the richest gifts life gives us. Please get out your jewels and strut your feathers as you beat your fists on the floor. Your beauty is your broken. Your wounds are your warrior paint. And like a hero in a half shell, your vulnerability is a lovely accessory that you can use for a fashionable sun hat when you aren't in battle. I am broken open not broken pieces that need to be fixed. None of us are.

Max is asking us to stay in between: in between enlightenment and doing the laundry. How effective can we be if we only stay in the awakening of the grief? How effective can we be if we only stay at the mountaintop? How effective can we be if we don't return home because no one will understand? Listen closely my warrior friends, it's not a matter of the world understanding or not understanding, that's too easy. That is your excuse to either stay on your journey or never leave the couch. What Max is asking us to do is make the return home and live the Hero's journey. The work is to utilize your crystal clear vision from the mountaintop and serve humanity.

Max is just getting started, so if you're in may I suggest you get pretty clear about what that is. How will you match your action with your heart?

In the meantime enjoy rubbing cosmic elbows with the hotshots in your half shell.

Max Love

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Max's Rebirth Prayer

Today marks 49 days since Max passed through me. 49 days is a significant day of transition in Tibetan Buddhism. And although Max is very clearly an awakened being, I have roots with the wild crazy wisdom side if things. Jen Z, Ivy, and Jess joined me early this morning at the same shrine where on April 3 they kept 108 candles lit as the Tucson Warriors shared prayers and chants for Max. The cookies that Bronwin and Darren offered were still there on a little plate from 7 weeks ago. When I arrived a candle from the original offering was lit. Pure Magic.

The spoken word below is not a push. I wrote it as a love letter to read to my son. I offer it to you as a way to honor and share the awakening that has occurred in your life these last 49 days.

For Maximilian Ka'hanu Heintz
Love Mom

I am onto you death.
You and your handle bar mustache under that black hooded little number you wear.
You aren't scary and you can't take my son.

Max is bigger than your bardos. He built your bardos.
And still Max I remind you to fly my sweet beautiful boy.
Move through. Move over bacon because Max is very much in the house...this great big mansion of my heart.

Time travel Max in your interstellar space machine. King of angels. Teacher of teachers.
Play planetary marbles my Boddhisatva Baba Baby Boy.
You are free.
You are me and me you. We never leave each other.

You have my blessing, just promise to call on the magic cell phone.
I want to hear about all of your adventures. All of your love. All of your heartache.
You are not a story. You are not downloadable.
You are more and more alive as I become more and more awake.
But I need to know that you are safe, warm, fed, happy... My hero.

My Jambavan. I just need the reminder to just remember.
I remember. And sometimes the smell of your skin surrounds me and I feel you in every cell of my body and you breathe me.

You breathe me Ka'hanu.
And here I was holding my breath thinking you would leave me.

Release Mom
You can't loose me. You never have.
I am ever present. You sang to me Nischprapanchaya.
Jai Guru.
I am yours.
Body or not.
Mother and Son.
Hanuman and Jambavan.
This lifeime or the next.
We are love.

OK My Mirror Max, add smoke or not.
I see you.
Thank you for dusting my path and adding golden sprinkles.
I will walk it and dip my fingers in the frosting and put my head in the donut cabinet at the grocery store to taste the richness of every moment.

I have and will let you go without me now knowing that you always return.
So take pictures. I want details.
In the meantime I will swing in your sunshine and sing with the keepers of wonder.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Devastation, what a gift...

Thank you for your comments, your poems, your pictures, your hearts. Truly, they are a life line for me.

Many of you have written to me personally about wanting to do some mending but not sure how to begin. Let me start by extending my deep appreciation for you. You braving your anger. You braving your grief. You braving your hurt. You braving your worthiness. You braving your dharma. You braving to let love in.

I want to begin by inviting you to pay attention to your word choice when you speak about your relationships and be curious about if using words like "toxic" are really your egos way of guarding your heart. It is certainly easy to stay away from things that are toxic and no one will argue with you. But if toxic is your way of perpetuating an old story and you want to truly break through the bullshit and get to know your heart then simply start by changing your language.

What follows is a little of what I have shared with a very dear friend from SD that you might find helpful.

A big part of my process has been meeting people where they are at, not meeting people at a place that fits into the mold of where I think they should be at. Max is clearly not a practice of "should". Should is a practice of wishing things were different. We can wish all we want, but we cannot act from a place of wishing things were different. This may be a type of spiritual materialism; thinking how people should be in the world is somehow better than the way they are. This only fits our agenda and not our connection.

I have had to work through this in the relationships that are on my list to mend. Of course I want each of them to be incredibly enriching, heart felt and authentic, but it's impossible. Not all people have those kinds of relationship with themselves. I am not saying this out of judgement. It's just the way some of us move through the world.  I still am blessed to receive their love.  What's beautiful is that I get to explore all of the ways people share their love with me.  
All of us will to continue to act out neurosis, like the way we dish it out to compensate for our own insecurities. As a warrior what I invite you to do is bring people back to their hearts. Instead of rolling your eyes or changing the conversation or avoiding them altogether, remind people of the ways they love themself or ask her about the ways they don't. Start to change the language.  What will start to happen is that the time you spend together will start to serve the heart connection that you two have. It might not happen overnight, or it might. SERVE LOVE not your expectations.

The other thing you need to stop doing is being afraid for the other person. We cannot take away our parents pain. We cannot take away our children's pain. We cannot take away of lover's pain. We cannot take away our friend's pain. No matter how hard we try.  It's an illusion. This is a hard one for me too. But awakening doesn't happen if someone is coddling us. We would better serve by moving out of the way. I have had to do this with my mama. Of course I want to make sure she is ok. She lost her grandson and she has to witness her daughter suffering. But what I realized is that by me trying to make sure she is ok was actually getting in the way of what Max has to offer: The teaching of impermanence, the teaching of radical acceptance, the teaching of love as a birthright, and the teaching of the veil of separation.

Life is devastating. Life is also creative.  Let your people be devastated. They might need to be.   Death and re-birth can happen while you are still alive in this body. What a gift. 

Remember you cannot act attached the results. Stay in your heart and see where the chips fall.

I hope this is helpful. If not, trash it, but trash it with certainty. 
Heather Bear

Friday, May 6, 2011

go heal a broken relationship... seriously, go heal a broken relationship

Master Kim P sat next to me on the airplane. It was 22 hours after Max passed through me. We were on our way back to the Big Island. Kim held my hand. All I could think about was how am I going to do this? How do I go home without my son? How do I return to a community where all the bustle was about Max's arrival? How do I return to my bedroom where he was born a healthy, wailing brilliant baby? Tears just streamed down my face. People are going to ask what they can do for me. What can I possibly tell them? Then BAM, another PUSH from Max. "Mom, when they ask, tell them to go heal a broken relationship". Side note here warriors, when I have birthed my Guru, teacher of teachers, master of masters named Max and 22 hours after he leaves his body of 8 days old, he tell me to not only go heal my broken relationships but tells me to tell people who ask what they can do for me, to go heal their broken relationships...YOU LISTEN.
As my arms ached to hold him, I went through a list in my heart of the relationships that I needed to heal. "Get busy Mom, you may not be here tomorrow, or worse those people in your heart might not be here". This is how I prioritized. When I went down the checklist I asked myself if I were to run into them, would I run the other way? Anyone who I would run away from got a phone call. It sounds funny to me now that this is how I proceeded, but I am telling you because it doesn't have to be complicated. It's not easy, but it's not complicated. You will hear this again and again from me. Actually if it becomes complicated you need to re-direct your intention. On the same note if it feels easy, you aren't doing the work.

Love wants to pour through us. Love wants to pour through you. But you and your grudges, you and your blame, you and your feeling victimized, you and your jealousy, you and your fear, you and all your excuses are great big blocks, huge dams that prevent that river of love to gush through every cell in your body. Love is your birth right. I know. I just held the purest form for 8 days.

Confronting the people that we have been most hurtful toward, and the people that have been most hurtful toward us is liberating. It frees us and them of the bullshit that has been trumping our deepest truth. Life is radically different when the truth is so palpable. We can only taste the truth when we confront our demons.

I am on quite a journey, and as some of you have said "an undeniable one". All of us are.
Here is the bottom line, if you can fix something, fix it. Go heal a broken relationship in the name of Max, in the name of me, but mostly in the name of the love truth that you are.

My midwife told my amazing sister who hadn't spoken to our dad for over three years to "just open the door and let the breeze come through". Amen April. You have to start somewhere.

Go open the door.

Max Love, Max Widom
Heather Bear

Heintz & Huelster families opening the door in Saint Paul, MN - March 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What is your push?

I don't use the term "push" lightly. The rests between contractions became vital for each subsequent push. This was true for the end of laboring with Max. This was true for the birth in my bedroom with Max. This was true for the eight days in the NICU with Max. You can't just stop labor. You can't just collapse when a contraction comes. You cannot not push. You just know what to do and you have to do it. You and your baby work together. You take turns taking the lead. But you do not collapse. This is my dance with Max. I gave birth to Max and to myself as Max's Mother but I am still in labor. My pushes now are very clear leads from Max that are simultaneously miraculous and painful. The miraculous is that I have Max gently guiding me into unexplored areas of my life with these huge bursts of intensity. The pain is that some of those areas are dark and really fucking uncomfortable. But one does not come without the other. Max is a miracle. He has broken open more hearts in his eight days than most of us dare to do in a lifetime. But having a broken open heart doesn't have to feel good. Don't kid yourself. Giving birth to your babies or to your realized self does not feel good. When we open so radically we become vividly aware of how and where we are rigid or have closed ourselves off. This takes being bold. This takes being vulnerable. These two things are not mutually exclusive. They are in relationship. One will take the lead but they are in a constant dance. So amazing warrior... What is your push?
Max Love
Heather Bear

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy One Month Birthday Max

Wow am I feeling your love.
Thank you for truly braving your heart space and posting. It is an amazing gift to me.

It's 11:11 pm in Minnesota and one month since I gave birth to my heart teacher Max. We celebrated by putting his birthstones in my ears. I feel him everywhere, he is everywhere but I literally see him in the eyes of my sisters babes. Zoe walks down the stairs with her rainbow wings and pauses to look up past me, "Aunty Heather I have to be careful with my wings, Max does too". Howard told a visitor yesterday, "Max didn't stay because he has bigger work to do". They know. It is the adults that have a harder time. On the other edge of rejoicing that Max is present is the reminder that he is not physically here. If given the chance I would fist fight god with brass knuckles and go into straight up spiritual warfare to have Max with me. I did this. I did this fully and didn't get what I wanted. None of us did. So let us not bullshit my amazing warriors for Max, nothing about this is about getting something in return. Again, nothing about this is fair. Again, nothing about this is anything but unconditional love. This is one of the most difficult teachings of Max and if you are going to really be a part of this movement you best start to get a grasp of how radical this is. In the words of Kimmi G, "Love is not an economic equation". Love can't save your marriage. Love can't even save your babies. But love is the human experience and all it wants to do is pour through us. When I wrote "Let Love In" as a push from Max, what it really means is that although we don't always get what we want, what we do get is the realization that love is something we get to do. We get to participate in relationships where we can pour love into each other, skin to skin, and eye to eye. This is the incredible gift of embodiment. So on this one month celebration of my teacher and son Max, remember the gift.
Max Love. Max wisdom.
Heather Bear

Max's birthstone earrings to celebrate his One Month Birthday.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Share Your Max Story!

Heather is asking us all to record the incredible openings that are happening within our own hearts. These are the miracles, the blessings, the shifts we are each making to embody and share Max's teachings. Please share your stories inspired by the EXTRA ORDINARY power of a Teacher named Maximilian Ka'hanu Bumblebee Heintz.