Two years ago, December 2017, I began on a journey I had been starting my whole life. I’ve always been too conscious. I’d always asked to many questions. But there I was, finally doing something about it.

Sure, I’d meditated before. Sure, I’d fasted and journaled and exercised and read personal development books and articles – sure – I’d been obsessed. Sure, I’d been following High Existence online for years, but there I was: doing something about it.

I had seen HE’s 30 Challenges to Enlightenment bopping around on the interwebs for a while already, but I had only just bought the program and December 2017 was my first official 30 Day Challenge: High on Existence. No drugs, alcohol, nicotine or caffeine for a whole month – and because I’m me, I included sugar (I’m more addicted to it that any of those other substances). I anticipated a difficult time, but was pleasantly surprised: I actually enjoyed myself.

Development and Growth

Subsequent challenges would prove more difficult and with time my personal development would again evolve, but I can’t help thinking back to the ease of that December, and how empowering it felt to feel so in control of myself. Flash forward to today though: I’m a mess.

I keep waking up late, I’m gloriously failing at implementing my own Sadhana practice for my Kundalini yoga teacher training, my self-care has been minimal, I can’t seem to keep up with my responsibilities and I’m randomly overwhelmed with such intense emotions and thoughts that they consume my whole being. Ah yes, the putrid smell of growth.

Since December 2017 so much has happened in my life, I feel like almost an entirely different person. I’ve taken trips to the underworld and back with Momma Aya, I’ve begun to develop a more comprehensive understanding of my Being through yoga and meditation, I’ve started developing peer and mentor relationships with people I admire and respect, I’ve learned Reiki and began practicing Divination for others, I’ve started to heal trauma and confront fears, I’ve begun bloging and am blooming more purposefully in my life… All to find myself here: feeling more out of control than I did back then, before any of this began. But is that really what’s going on?

No Longer Playing Games

You see, along with my personal development, I’ve been doing deep spiritual work too. It’s not as simple as getting “better,” it’s about dismantling my egoic understanding of “better” and the manipulative devices I am conditioned to deploy in this world as a result of those delusions.

You see, 2 years ago my ego was still calling the shots. Being able to detach from my vices so easily felt good because it confirmed my biases about my abilities to manipulate myself – er, I mean exert self-control. But those subsequent challenges? The meditations and self-care? Those required so much more than self-manipulation.

In the last 2 years I’ve learned to give my ego a backseat, and it’s shaken everything up. At times, I am literally completely out of control – in fact, I aspire to be totally out of control. Yet, my ego is still there, still screaming and throwing fits. It’s not so nice when it’s not getting it’s way: confirming biases and coming out “on top.”

Choosing a Master

Alas, there we were, still listening. See, I may have put Ego in the backseat, but Spirit was still back there too. Observer was up front with Wisdom navigating, but kept getting distracted by all the commotion:

Are we there yet?!” Ego likes to scream.

Where exactly do you want to be?” Wisdom replies, “You haven’t exactly helped us formulate a plan E.”

“Be here,” Spirit wispers.

“I don’t know, I don’t care!” E screams, “Anywhere but here! Somewhere exciting! Let’s do something good, let’s do something seen. I don’t want to waste my time, and I’m not letting any of you waste yours either.”

“We’re all in this together E, and I love your passion,” Spirit cooes, grabbing E’s hand on the seat between them and giving it a little squeeze while gazing deeply into E’s potential.

Ego recoils sharply, with a look of disgust for Spirit’s vulnerability and affection. Spirit remains, unfazed by the discomfort and reaction.

“Well?! Go O!” E yells again, at which point Observer is startled to find itself in the driver’s seat, speechless.

“Seriously?! What’s your problem? Just GO!” Ego exclaims, growing in ferocity.

Observer turns to Wisdom for guidance and W shrugs as if to say, “I know.”

And this sort of thing was going on for a while… ‘Round and ’round; it’s completely immobilizing. It couldn’t continue, I had to choose a different driver.

It would seem, despite my naive assumptions of meditation training, that Observer isn’t the best driver – but I can’t put Ego back in that seat again either. Wisdom is squarely in the navigation position, of its own personal assertion, so that leaves Spirit.

The most obvious and unassuming of all. Of course, surrendering to Divine grace is the answer! But have you tried to actually do that? It’s not exactly easy.

Seeing Clearly

It’s not as simple as deciding to do something and doing it anymore. Everything is scrutinized and examined, mostly because Ego is in the backseat DEMANDING it to be so. That’s been one of the major lessons in my life this past year: much of my “personal development” has actually been more “Ego development.”

Even putting Observer in the driver’s seat was Ego’s move. E knew that O could be manipulated, overwhelmed and controlled. Spirit is always the one to, not fight back but, remain tranquil and resilient despite anything Ego tries to do. As far as Ego’s concerned, “SPIRIT CANNOT BE THE DRIVER!”

I’ve only just made this choice as consequence of my calling to Kundalini and everything I’m dealing with now are just the consequences. It’s seriously maddening at times though. I am actually at war within myself.

Ego knows it’s different this time, and it’s not giving up control without a fight. It’s using everything it can to its advantage: old patterns, pain, manipulation, self-sabotage and symptoms of mental illnesses all resurfacing within me to try and force E’s desperate agenda. And yet, with Spirit now in full power, I am unphased.

Accepting the Promises of Grace

Maybe I’m not waking up and doing the perfect Sadhana every day, but I’m reconstructing the patterns within my heart and mind that have made me content in my excessive comfort. Maybe I’m not practicing self-care or approaching my goals and projects as mindfully as I want to, but I am rooting out the lies of unworthiness, insecurity and fear that have plagued my life. Maybe I’ve not yet mastered the simplicity of my own Sovereignty, but with Spirit at the healm it’s only a matter of time before I get better and better at developing those skills and understandings too.

Personal development can look like a flawless execution of a challenge, but it can also feel like falling apart. Dense pockets of conditioning require a bit of finesse and tenderness, but they have to be worked through. Whatever isn’t flowing, is growing stagnant and contributing to dis-ease.

As much as we want to undergo growth to feel better, we have to be willing to work through even those patterns and pains that make us feel worse. True healing doesn’t happen at the surface, and this is just one of those times I get to explore a messier side to the art of growing. Even amidst the struggles I can rejoice knowing I will make it through.

“Ah! Fine! Can we at least get going now!?” E says in a defiant huff.

“Only once you’ve calmed down dear one, where we are going an attitude won’t serve you…” Spirit encourages with a smile, “but we’ve got all the time in the world to sit, here, with you.”

Ego’s eyes grow big with disbelief and wonder. Caught within the illusions of its own fear, subject to everything but distractions, for once E seems itself speechless – emitting only: “… okay.”

Originally written in December of 2016 for an online project I called Naturally Subversive.

Could it be that fear is an unnecessary emotion? That pain is not to be avoided, but in fact carefully saught after as means to growth and evolution? Is it possible that all we’ve been trying to avoid in our lives is precicely what we need the most?

Terrified

Growing up, I was not the girl that sought out danger. I did not like pain or discomfort and I never took a risk that could lead to either. I took these limitations to extremes. I wouldn’t play physical games with my friends or siblings for fear of getting hurt. I couldn’t enjoy the snow in the winter because the cold was so unbearable to my delicate sensitivities. That’s what my parents started to refer to it as: hyper sensitivity. I was allergic to hypoallergenic toiletries and all anyone had to do to make me cry was look at me wrong. I’d have meltdowns, publicly and privately. It got bad. The first time I tried to kill myself and had thoughts of “saving those I loved from this terrible world” I was only 10 years old. The world was a dark and horrible place and I couldn’t bear to try and live through all the pain. The depression persisted through high school and once my best friend died the month before my 16th birthday I began to experiment with self harm. Suddenly, the little girl who would panic and feel faint at the sight of someone else’s blood was a young woman putting blades to her own skin.


I had found myself somewhere I’d never been. Suddenly, pain wasn’t the scariest thing in my world, complete and paralyzing numbness was. Loosing my friend flipped a switch and then nothing mattered any more, nothing bothered me, and that terrified me more than anything. I had to feel something, anything, even if it was the physical pain I’d avoided my whole life.

Gone Reckless

Time would prove that blades aren’t the only way for a broken but beautiful girl to inflict pain on herself. I eventually stopped the self-mutilation, but only after I’d secured new torment. My ex was a charmer. Broad, strong shoulders and the strength of an ox. I’m six foot two and he could move my body in ways I’ve never experienced before or since. For a virgin with a reckless attitude for life and a desperation to find feeling again, this combination of danger and pleasure was exactly what I had been asking for. 


I had only been back from Australia for three weeks at the time I’d met him. It was a dream trip, something I’d wanted to do for as long as I could remember. I had made it happen, somehow, despite all odds. I was only 20 years old. I should’ve been elated, but I wasn’t. I’d found out for myself that even paradise can’t save you from your own misery. I suppose that first orgasm was everything I had been hoping for, the bliss I had been searching far and wide for and had almost given up on. I was hooked, and soon his libido wasn’t the only thing he was using to keep me on edge.


Ecstasy,  LCD, Shrooms, Cocaine; each drug mettled with alcohol and weed, I was lost in a blazing fury. The ways I was experimenting with my reality kept me up for nights on end and distorted the way I could think and feel, but I didn’t care. My ex slowly introduced me to his world of criminal activity; at first it was just drugs but before I knew what had happened my life had become a reoccurring COPS special. I only ended up in jail once, ironically for domestic violence against my hulk of an ex. Even that wasn’t enough to pry my new addictions from my hands, I held on and kept digging deeper into muck that had become my life. 


The twisted romance persisted for over six years, more than four of witch we were married. During that time he would spend almost three years locked up on drug, fraud or burglary charges. Still I stayed. I had convinced myself that the orgasms and highs were love and that we were destined for forever. I believed I could save him from himself, but I wasn’t even trying to save myself. Those years contained many of the most painful and horrific experiences of my life, and for a while I thought some of the best as well.

I came out on the other end feeling as fearless as I had ever been. The initial shock of the betrayal of my own heart set me on a new course. I was forced to face myself, to look at my pain and accept it. Everything changed.

Finding Boldness

Just 20 short months ago I was freshly divorced, decided to quit my cushy job and slowly began the journey that brought me here. I began to learn that I had control and that my thoughts and choices were all directly framing my life. Of course, there was a period of trial and error and I dare say I got a bit worse before I got better. I was bitter and I allowed it to get the best of me; this time the target wasn’t me though.


I became a bit of a man eater. I dabbled in playing Sugar Baby and eventually in Financial Domination. I really wanted to be immune to empathy for the opposite sex after the torments my ex had subjected me to. I didn’t trust or respect any of them so telling them exactly what they wanted to hear in order to maintain control and get what I wanted wasn’t an issue for me. I traveled to New Orleans, Oahu, Orlando and Vegas for “free” because I thought it would make me feel powerful and sexy, something I felt I’d lost when I lost my husband to infidelity (on both ends). It worked and it didn’t work. Did I feel sexy and powerful? Most definitely, but I also felt like I wasn’t able to be genuine. The dishonesty and manipulation was too similar to what my ex had subjected me to; I had found that I’d grown into the very type of person I was so determined to never let use me again.

Learning to Choose My Pain

Soon enough the glamor of luxury spas and restaurants in beautiful places wasn’t enough, I needed to feel real again, even if that meant breaking down my defensive armor and dealing with my raw broken heart. I was finally able to go within and examine my thoughts without judgment, and what I found would spark new interest in living authentically and pursuing my optimal nature.


I had to break it off with my suitors and even a friend who I had been entertaining the diffusional manipulations of. I began working out more, focusing on regaining my wholeness and health. Meditation, weight lifting, hiking and yoga all became more important as all the self care practices I had fruitlessly tried to implement for years suddenly became my go to for emotional processing and release. I had made decisions and finally it wasn’t just to do the fun or easy thing but rather, I had decided to pursue the pain that would help me become the woman I could most respect.


Flash forward and I’m building a bright future for myself and others online, writing the things I need to heal in hopes that my story might help others and still getting stronger every day. I am only at the very beginning stages of this new journey but already I’m reaping the benefits. I’m no longer scared. I don’t need anyone to sugar coat life for me and protect me from everything anymore. I don’t need to force pain in order to feel anymore. I don’t need to be high on drugs and sex in order to experience bliss any longer. I don’t need to influence and control men to feel powerful and sexy. In fact, I feel a very distinct lessening of need. It’s as if I have found the well of sustenance and joy that existed within me all along. 


I’ve learned that pain was a part of life in many ways, and I’ve also learned that you can’t avoid it, but that you can make it purposeful. If we’re all going to face difficulties and tragedies in life, but they don’t have to be meaningless and they can be beneficial if we so choose. It’s up to each of us to make the decision to stop playing victim and start training like a champion. Don’t let life just happen to you, make your dreams come true.


Be bold my tribe.

On “Columbus Day” I celebrate Indigenous Peoples, on Christmas I celebrate Yule, and while others give thanks today I will be joining in, but with my awareness on the Displaced People around the world. That’s the true meaning of Thanksgiving to me, both with regard to the pilgrims when they came to America, and now as well with the Natives who have subsequently been displaced as a result of those settlements and my nation’s sordid history.

It’s not as simple as just giving thanks though, at least not for me. This holiday is one of the most gruesome and difficult, because this awareness of truth I soulfully maintain thrusts my consciousness into acceptance of all the evil humanity is capable of (as well as the good).

Does it lift people’s spirits? Does it make for great conversations? Is it trendy, popular or fun? No, it is none of those things we’ve been groomed to expect from our Holy Days, but it is a Holy Day none the less.

Getting Personal

My grandmother was taken from her childhood home at just 9 years old. Sent to live in a “starvation camp” with her grandmother, brother and cousin, none of them would ever make it back to that house again.

My great grandmother Anna did indeed starve to death in that camp. My grandmother waking in her cold, stiff arms one day when she was just 12. Anna had been holding the tiny, malnourished girl as she had slept, and my grandmother had to cry out for someone to help her escape her own grandmother’s rigor mortis.

My own fortune began long before my birth or even my mother’s birth, when that brave, malnourished little girl dared to escape that camp – and did. She made it out alive, and this began her official journey as a displaced person, eventually leading her and her remaining family to seek refuge in America when she was 17.

Honoring the Pain

My grandmother is my hero. Her grandmother too, and I am so proud to bare her namesake as a part of my own (why I prefer MayryANNA to just Mayry).

I come from an incredible lineage of strong, caring and brave women. My great grandmother would serve the little bit of moldy bread they recieved in the camp as a gruel to the children before herself, and that sacrifice alone enabled my grandmother’s survival. To this day my grandmother recalls her innocence of not knowing what was happening when her own grandmother “scraped out the bowl” in order to feed herself after serving the kids.

My own grandmother has since gone on to make Anna so proud: making it through the hiding and unknowns of her displacement, coming to a new country and learning a new language, building a life and a family in North America, overcoming again and again. Yet, my grandma, in all her strength and success, is still displaced.

She will never return home. The trauma and great loss of her young life has scarred and scared her. One of my sister’s is now a missionary in Northern Macedonia (used to be Yugoslavia when my grandmother was a child) and has visited the town where my grandmother grew up – but my grandma is worried that if she ever went back to Eastern Europe they won’t let her leave (given her experiences, that of course makes sense, even despite the actual probabilities), so she refuses to visit.

Acknowledging Blessings

It hurts me to see the repercussions of humanity’s evil still affecting my grandmother decades after her traumatic displacement. Yet, in honoring her, I must also be grateful.

I have never been displaced myself. I have grown up strong and proud as an United States Citizen, and I have enjoyed the perks of that designation my entire life.

Here in Colorado, I live on land once claimed by the Ute peoples and feel their lingering presence daily. I’ve found a rough carving of a bear that is somehow attuned to stand only when looking at a neighboring mountain (a highly charged site I suspect was considered holy or sacred), taking notice of hobbled trees and trying to find the ancient paths they once marked.

This is my home, now, but it is not only my home. It is and has been so much more, to so many more – and it will always be more. In a way, we humans are all displaced, we are all seeking a safe home and the opportunity to flourish on land stolen from our ancestors and borrowed from our children.

The land remains, yes, but so do the crimes. The memories, the traumas and the pain – all of that gets passed on too. Which is why I choose to remember, especially on this day: freedom isn’t free, true love does the tough thing and peace is hard won (often by heros in grandmother’s clothing).

My beloved grandmother, Amu

Very busy with Friendsgiving today, so to free up some of my time I’m posting some old writing. I hope you enjoy these stream of consciousness observations about beauty that I wrote down over 5 years ago, and please let me know your thoughts on this topic too.

I’ve never considered myself to be truly ‘beautiful.’ Perhaps that’s sad, but I think it’s a truth for many women. Sure, we may look in the mirror every so often and think (or even say) ‘damn, I look good’ but it’s typically right before we think ‘except…’ Readjusting, squeezing, primping, plucking, masking, and the list goes on – we’re never quite right and there’s always something more to be done. I’m sure that the pressure exists for men as well, and perhaps it’s not fair that it’s socially acceptable for females to slather on cover up or maneuver ourselves into body shapers while the males have to just deal with the hand they’ve been dealt, but the fact remains that this type of self-manipulation is expected and celebrated.

What’s worse is the fact that these manipulations aren’t even promoting real beauty. For example, when you look at a beautiful landscape it’s not typically ‘perfect’ – there are scars, flaws, variations – it’s the whole, the wide view lens, and the act of taking it all in that leaves you gazing on in wonder. We typically have this type of appreciation for others all the while examining our own reflection with magnification. This excessive scrutiny is taking over lives and confusing onlookers; even I have no idea why I give my attention and admiration to some of the examples I do…

I saw a picture on Facebook, well actually three of them, of an acquaintance of mine and one of her friends – now, this acquaintance is gorgeous by anyone’s standards (thin, tone, tan, etc…) but next to her friend she looked heavy and frumpy. The friend struck the same, seemingly pre-practiced pose in all three pictures – this girl was extremely thin, to the point that from the side her breast implants were obvious (being the only visible curve aside from her butt, which she was promoting with an uncomfortable arch of her lower back), her tan was unnaturally dark, her hair unnaturally long, and her gaze (which never met the camera) and expression lacked any life at all… This poor girl looked so manipulated and fake that it made me uncomfortable, and yet her ‘perfectly’ poised self somehow managed to cast a shadow over my acquaintance’s usually glorious physique. It made me sad; sad for the friend because it was horribly obvious that her own insecurities had been magnified to the point of completely controlling her, and sad for my acquaintance because she was being compared with an example like this.

I hope to never look like that friend in that picture, yet when I look in the mirror I’m examining my flaws and adjusting my appearance just as I’m sure she does (albeit, not to the same extremes). Why do I allow myself to be influenced this way? Why is it that it’s more difficult for me to pick out things I like about my appearance than it is to find things I don’t?

It’s that time of year: everything seems to be winding down and speeding up, all at the same time. Friendsgivings and family get togethers to plan, snowy days and hot beverages to enjoy, gift and card lists getting longer – everything helping to foster a bit of seasonal cheer.

I wasn’t always a fan of the hustle and bustle though.

The Littlest Grinch

Kids are supposed to like the holidays, especially Christmas, but in this and many other ways I just had to be different. I was miserable and wanted company. I didn’t understand why we were killing trees and forced to see family members that we otherwise had nothing to do with.

It all seemed excessive, pointless and contrived. I didn’t keep these thoughts to myself either. I remember being asked to help decorate the tree once and responding obstinately, “I’ll watch but you can’t make me participate.”

Image: Panda Whale

I was raised Christian and had a voracious appetite for knowledge as a kid. These two aspects of my childhood were consistently at odds but ultimately lead me to the depth of spiritual experiences I enjoy today. Back then though, I was always asking too many questions.

I knew Christ’s most probable birthday wasn’t in December. I never had the chance to believe in Santa and though I had generally unlimited access to the Bible, other Christian texts, encyclopedias and my homeschool curriculum, anything with actual Pagan or eclectic spiritual content was completely prohibited. I simply didn’t have the framework my inquisitive mind needed to appreciate these Pagan, albeit bastardized traditions.

Transformed

Today, I am the householder for my grandma’s mountain estate. I am the hostess for Friendsgiving and holidays. I not only decorate for but plan, pull off and even enjoy Christmas festivities now.

I’m sending out cards this season. It’s reached a critical level. I am a full fledged holly jolly person these days.

Image: funnybeing.com

So what changed? It’s true, I am not the same person as that very stubborn little girl, but even just years ago I struggled with seasonal affective disorder and abhorred all holiday traditions. For all my personal development and growth, I’ve still felt like I had to manipulate myself into participating and pretend that I cared about these things I genuinely found frivolous for the majority of my adult life.

The change wasn’t about me, it was about my awareness. I became aware of the Pagan roots, the actual traditions and the intentions behind the creation of these holidays. That’s it!

Creating Genuine Appreciation

Granted, awareness isn’t always endearing. Thanksgiving isn’t one of those holidays with admirable roots, but it’s still important to be aware.

Knowing what was done to the indigenous North Americans following their naive hospitality towards the pilgrims, I can purposefully acknowledge both humanity’s capacity for good as well as for evil. I can make meaning that extends beyond media and cultural portrayals and stereotypes, becoming more intentional, respectful and truly grateful. Personally, I celebrate what I call Displaced People’s day instead of Thanksgiving, trying to bare in mind that humanity’s greatest threat, as well as benefit, has always been humanity itself.

Image: The Atlantic

Appreciation doesn’t mean adoption. Christmas is another one of those celebrations I’ve found joy in tweaking for myself. From the outside looking in, it’s all the same, but my heart is filled with cheer because it knows the true original intentions of the traditions I have now. I will be celebrating a sort of Yule/Saturnalia mash up.

I will decorate because bringing more lights and greenery into the house is an ancient practice for combating seasonal affective disorder. I will give gifts and send cards because during this coldest and darkest time of the year it’s more important than ever to encourage and support our loved ones. I will cook for family and entertain friends to create a sense of warmth and community in order to offset the isolation of winter.

Letting the Truth Inspire

I don’t need Santa coming down the chimney with diamonds. I don’t need lavish gifts or celebrations. I don’t need religious obligations. Just give me the truth.

I can relate to feeling cold, sad and alone in winter! I don’t want my loved ones to feel that! Of course I’ll do my part to encourage and support my community so that we all make it through to see another spring!

It’s that easy.

Image: Instagram

Turns out I wasn’t every really obstinate. I always wanted the truth. Now that I’ve got it, nothing else matters.

“The simple truth will always have the most power and potentiality.”

mayryanna

Happy holidays and blessed be my beloveds – and yes, I sincerely mean that!