felt you aching
restraining
holding back
your rythm 
stuttering 
shuffling 
staying hidden


it took pain
to break you
open you to 
what love is
what it means
to sacrifice 
happiness –


for mourning 
but that is
commitment 
gonna feel it
getting realer 
grief is that
other side


the cost of
love – missing
experiencing 
even the void
even the ache
even the stutter
even the brake


all because, oh!
love, the love –
gloriously painful 
achingly beautiful 
eternally devastating 
infinitely generating 
divinely inspired 


center of everything –
what can i withhold 
i offer all, trembling 
take my life
take my truth
take my pain
take my hope


your ways stab
straight to soul
beyond to more
deep to core
and you make 
all life’s having
meaningful 

I found happiness 
at the bottom 
of my darkest 
scariest and
hardest 
resistance –
as soon as I
let go of my
fear and expectations 


Drowning in bliss
doesn’t always 
feel all that
pleasant 
but the pain
makes resilient 
my most broken –


Healing in
to bloom
forever
dying just
to grow again 


here
I AM
now


i am 


now
I AM
here


Again to grow
just to die
always
crumbling 
diffusing out –


Brilliance of most
tranquil suffering 
but the joy
difficult –
thinking all
and every way
killing potential highs


Goals and potentialities 
sneakily influence 
if I don’t watch
my mischief –
easiest 
purest and
most beloved
at the center
of what can never be lost

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.”

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

On the way to the airport in Madison, I am bidding my Wisconsin adventure adieu – but not before receiving the last few lines I needed to complete this new poem:

Rare glimpses
sky shy peeks
muted beneath
dull grey clouds
o’r barren scapes


Rusted trappings
comfortably home 
amongst the golds
coppers ‘n’ bronzes 
hazy with wet air


Farm houses cast 
complete with silos
randomly checkered 
among still green hills
covered in naked trees


Fall is lingering
yet not yet winter
everything feels dim
muffled beneath snow
not melting faster


When the sun says ‘hey’
everyone takes note
grateful for the oddly
briefest moments of
bright shining splendor 


Wisconsin in November
an atypical adventure
delightfully enchanting
not because it trys to be
wholly uncomplicated


Sprawling country canvas 
sprinkled with hokey charm
this temporarily muted palate 
exaggerating delicate beauty
magnifying the simply peaceful