From self-doubt to Sierra Agape Center
Special to the Sun
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — The mission was to serve. When a calling lands on one’s heart, initially it may seem like a moment of madness, an impulse, or just a silly idea. But callings are like little hummingbirds. They keep coming back to the honey of the heart, hovering, wings humming, shining, reminding one that faith in the beauty of the heart should not be forsaken.
I had nothing left. I had lost my house and filed for bankruptcy. I wandered my inner wasteland looking for my bones among the ruins. I’d convinced myself I had nothing to offer and disappeared into the waves of shame and self-doubt. I had a reckoning one morning as I indulged in my ritual of self-pity, crying over photos of my home in the Sierra Nevada and longing for softness in my dried-up life. It was doing me no good at all to hold out my cup with a hungry eye, hoping others would fill it. I decided the only medicine was to begin giving. When I opened my heart, even in my deepest times of sorrow, I noticed I did not feel emptier, I felt more abundant.
It was January of 2010. I was homesick, living in San Diego, my self-confidence limping along like an old bicycle with bent wheels and rusting parts. My beautiful Sierraville house was gone, having flooded badly after a pipe burst, ruining the entire downstairs. I was losing it anyway, a result of my poor financial judgment and an overly eager mortgage loan officer.
One day I was digging beneath the home’s petticoats of peonies and daffodils. She whispered her name to me: Francis. She welcomed me home each day when the heartache of being left behind threatened to crush me. I was holding on to my phantom boyfriend, hoping he would come back, trying to be the best, most understanding, flexible girlfriend. I told myself my power was in showing endurance, that I could withstand the blows, the lies, the cunning way in which he stayed close enough to be on my radar yet distant enough to disappear when he pleased.
I was the old coat he hung on a hook beside the door, only taking me off my hook when he had nothing else to wear.
And I allowed myself to be the old coat, always willing to keep him warm, always willing to be put up on my hook to wait … and wait … and wait. I listened as car after car drove past my driveway, never turning in. I realized how much I held my breath, how much I held on until my knuckles were white. Letting go of imagined love has always captivated me, drawing me to it with its mesmerizing, beckoning voice.
I knelt beside her on that cold February day, with her main artery bleeding out, unable to stop it. I spent hundreds of hours listening to canned music on the Bank of America’s Home Retention Team’s phone line and filling out reams of paperwork in hopes of keeping my home. I begged and pleaded with the insurance company to repair the black mold and renovate this beautiful woman of a house, built in 1853, but they refused, saying they did not cover houses built with asbestos in the walls. I was bankrupt and lost, ending up in San Diego only because I needed a job and took the first job offered.
My body began to express what my soul was feeling; a heaviness, a death.
My joints were always sore, I dreaded daybreak and the pain of facing the day.
I decided to attend a yoga class to see if it would help me find comfort, to open me up. I was folding in, my head bent down, almost as though it was being pushed, forcing me to look into my heart. My shoulders closed in around my heart as well, protecting it against the battery of my ego’s unbridled negative chatter, its voice a constant in my head, telling me that a heart-driven course was silly, impractical, nonsensical and asinine.
A healing path
By some serendipitous stroke of the gods, I was led to a Deep Yoga class in the South Park neighborhood of San Diego with Bhava Ram and Laura Plumb. In their yoga class that evening, I began to open — a slight flutter of wings that were for months pinned against my back. As I listened to the soft instruction, I felt my ego resisting the invitation. I had long obeyed its endless reminders to perch upon the brittle limbs of self-doubt, to wear the armor of self-doubt. The invitation to look inside my heart with compassion rather than shame and contempt was irresistible.
I was so hungry for relief.
It wasn’t long before this therapist (myself) had to surrender. My education in depth psychology taught me to listen to the gods within, to attend to the soul’s voice by paying attention to its subtle messages hidden in dreams or the ways of Nature. I lost my way when I stopped listening to the guiding voice, what the ancients consider the ultimate source of love and wisdom: Nature, Mother Earth or Gaia. Through the teachings of my instructors in San Diego from Deep Yoga, I awakened again and was encouraged to walk according the calling from my heart, despite the fear. I managed to gently move all that nattering from my mind out of the way, as one would move dead branches aside in order to see the path.