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Wiggle your fingers. Begin to move your toes. Feel your body come back into awareness. This is the end and the beginning. Shavasana.

Corpse

You could say Story Charmer has been in shavasana the last six months. Shavasana, the Sanskrit word for “corpse pose,” comes at the end of a yoga practice, the last pose in a sweating, stretching, praying, (sometimes pleading) workout.

Like it sounds, the body stretches out onto the floor like a corpse, limbs heavy, muscles slack. Breath slows. Heart rate calms. And, while I haven’t spent six months lying on my back in the dark, I have spent six months tucked into the quiet cocoon of a basement office, quaintly set in a back yard cottage, 1000 miles from the city and community I called home the last 4 years.

Sweating it out

In the months before its shavasana, my life became its own stretching, sweating, deepening yogic practice when I reached into love, packed up my single-gal ways, and moved to San Francisco with my boyfriend. A few months later, spent, and stirred by my creative urge, I gave up the work on which I’d built my business. And a few months after that, wondered

what’s my identity anymore?
what will I say without the crux of my business?
am I running far far away from everything I’ve built? And if so,
to what leaping-into-the-dark end?

Answerless, I telescoped back from social media and work communities, drifting farther away the dimmer my purpose became. Who am I? What is Story Charmer built on? What am I sharing? Are we friends because we’re buying from each other? Or are we buying from each other because we’re friends? Wait, we’re friends, right?

Further down in the heart, I cooked dinners for my boyfriend, wondered at cohabitation after so long solo, carried on intense breakthrough sessions with my therapist, and recoiled … in peace. After holding life, bracing against challenge, supporting the warrior pose of business-woman, and longer, of Pema, for such a duration, stillness was deafening.

Heartbeat in stillness

Despite its name, corpse pose is very much alive. The body’s rest is awash in the heat, sweat and prayer that came before. In this most vital pose, the body is resetting, integrating—its muscles, organs, its spirit—healing itself in the empty space before the action of every day resumes, and fills it. It’s the end of practice, and the beginning of what’s next.

Six months after it began, I can see that my practice had been intense, and that the silence was shavasana. Some stillness owns you till you take what it offers.

Curating the empty space

Story Charmer will be seeing some big changes in the coming months. The blog, she’ll slim down to stories on the journey, machinations in the mind. No explicit coaching here. Just exploring, relating, filtering life through story to find its perspective, its invitation to transform. The space cleared will make way for a new site and my gorgeous and gritty new story coaching offer in the new year.

For much of my copy writing career, I thrilled to my favorite part of the process, the client interview. Our conversations and what gets created from them are one hour of epic. And then, I’d slink off to my dark corner to write, solo, for another 20 to 30 hours. With my new offer, I’m over the moon to have found the sweet spot of client interaction, creation, and serving a (most fabulous) concrete need. I’ll tell you all about it in the weeks leading up to the launch. Till then, I hope you’ll enjoy the whopper stories that will inhabit Story Charmer till year’s end from South America.

Yep! Restored by shavasana, I’m on the “road” out in the world again. This time beginning in Buenos Aires and points along the Atlantic Southern Hemisphere. And it involves a ship, and the Amazon jungle, and bodies, stretching into life.

More to come… :-)

 

Photo credit: I found this lovely shavasana image at http://yoga.patients-care.com

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Disclaimer: Run now or hold your peace

No parent wants to read about their child’s first sexual encounter under their own roof. And so for that reason, I caution my dad and anyone else who feels fatherly or motherly toward me, or anyone squeamish about teenage love to click away right now.

See you clickers in the next post. 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 . . .

Virginal

For all who have stayed. Welcome. To the night I got naked. With a girl. In my brother’s bedroom. It’s a passion play that, like all good dramas, begins its slow turn much earlier.

She and I were best friends. On this night, we turned lovers, in a willful gesture that I learned was desire. It took over me as if I was watching myself on a movie screen. And yet, I lived each moment in the heat that spread in my heart, my gut, my skin, exploding my head. Each choice. And then the next. I was 16.

My dad was a preacher. My mom slept nearby on the living room couch. My brother was no longer. At least, not his physical form. He had died suddenly, nine months before, at 17.

The end of innocence

His room was intact. I would go in there from time to time, to make his absence real. And to pierce the mute, open doorway standing at the end of the hall, that no one walked through anymore, but which shone blue from the paint on his walls.

It had a bigger bed than mine, covered by the blue and red afghan our grandma crocheted. I would sit on it and stare out the window. Run my hand over coarse yarn and stare out the door. Stare into his closet. Velcro my eyes to the song lyrics he had written on the pad still on his desk. The cartoons he had drawn. His life still in the lines.

But this night, the scratchy afghan slipped to the floor. My best friend and I, we’d been to the beach. Heat from our sunburns made the room feel like day. Street lamp light sifted the darkness telling us it was night. All of it transcended time.

Resurrection mix tape

Dawn came. Then morning sun. Then sleep.

It was Easter Sunday. My dad woke us ten minutes into slumber, to get ready for church.

Pastel floral farm skirt and my favorite greenish cropped top. What I wore that day is sealed on my memory, as is the way the sun slanted through the windows and her next to me in the pew in black pedal pushers. Somebody preached. About Jesus dying for our sins. And coming back to life. While I flashed on fresh sins I could still feel. And felt alive in them.

The people here hurt for me and my family’s loss deeply. They wrapped me in love as much as I would let them. And I knew with fearful certainty that if they knew the sins I knew, they would reject me without argument. That was the day a new piece of my spirit struggled free, while my relationship with religion ground to its end.

Lost

As it happened, it was my job to drive Grandma to church. That wasn’t going to change. So I went, every Sunday, for the next three years until I left for college, smiling to see the folks that raised me in this community, and dying inside to think we wouldn’t be having this conversation if they knew what I knew about me.

If you’ve ever been a closeted gay teen stoic at church, you know that hyper-self-awareness can widen into silence and separation. Turn into rejection and resentment. Years into the shut-down, I became allergic to all things holy. The day, a decade later, that I sat in traffic behind a Christian fish symbol bumper sticker, and raged at the intolerant audacity of a blindly religious vocal majority, I heard the silence in my car stab back at me. My outrage, the silent echo suggested, might be a bigger fish to fry than the one on the bumper.

A modern chance

There was no where to go in the traffic. No one to hear but myself. I’d learned enough to know that inordinate venom is usually the tip off to a personal problem buried so deep you can’t see it. It was there, gridlocked behind the Christian fish car, that I missed spirituality.

If I were a preacher, I’d be fourth in a generational line of them, starting with my great-grandfather on my dad’s side. Church, before there was a building for it, used to be held in the very house that I lived in. My dad as a boy would set out folding chairs in his living room for the congregants, which, if you’ve ever crammed into a living room and shared stories and reverence, you know is a silly name to call each other when it feels rather like family.

I missed…a feeling. That family. The reverence. The sensation of awe and peace and wonder that my dad called “the spirit.” I missed people caring and loving and coming together just to be together in a sacred hour. As much as I had grown to detest all things related to a religious tenet that would kill me if it had a modern chance, I even missed praying.

Found

And so there in my car, I cracked open and allowed myself to feel, allowed myself to wonder, and to wander through thoughts of God as God related to ME and not a religion.

That was the beginning of what has become an increasingly spiritual journey. I remembered the reverence with which I absorbed nature on the walks to school and in the national parks we traveled with my grandparents. I remembered the joy and gratitude of stewardship that my grandma modeled. And I remembered that I had as much fascination for a fundamentalist’s diehard faith as I had vitriol for what it espoused.

I think they call this collection of attributes “humanist,” and maybe that’s what I was becoming. But what I knew in the moment was that access to spirit was no longer trapped in the church box. It was no longer separate from me and my heathen ways. Access to spirit is mine if I want it, even if religion has its party without me.

Thank God.

In the Pulpit with Ronna Detrick

In addition to stripping down and exploring through memories, I’m gearing up for Sunday morning in the pulpit with Ronna Detrick, spiritual adviser and conversation sparker extraordinaire, creator of sacred community through conversations on God and women. Please join us for her inspired invocation of the divine in all of us, as we talk about new ways of understanding and incorporating faith, beliefs, spirituality, and gorgeous, significant story.

Sunday Services you want to WAKE UP for!
with Ronna Detrick, Spiritual Director and creator of Inspired by Eve.
and guest, Pema Teeter, Story Charmer
May 27, 2012
10:00 am (PST)
We need congregation. We need sacred space.
 And we need conversation that is unscripted, unedited, and unboundaried.
 We need each other.

Dial: 530.881.1300 Code: 590920#

(Skype callers: Add ‘freeconferencing.5308811300′ to your contacts.
Once you’ve dialed in, locate the key pad and enter the access code. )

Smart, engaging conversation about topics that matter. Soak up community wisdom. Even worship. It’s divine.

I hope you’ll join us.

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Gratitude for Waking Up

April 8, 2012

Don’t Go Back to Sleep

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep
You must ask for what you really want
Don’t go back to sleep
People are going back and forth across the door-sill
Don’t go back to sleep
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep

– Rumi

Thank you to…

You, the reader, who makes this site and this collaborative conversation so special.

L’Tanya Durante for breaking open the Waking Up series by inspiring me to plant my voice in community before I use it.

Ronna Detrick, whose conversation expanded the week-long 4 a.m. wake-up from a solo venture to a community experience that blossomed.

Dyana Valentine for helping me wake up to a very deep knowing I was ignoring before this project began.

Michele Mollkoy for pointing out the mega flow of creativity that follows after the stories get charmed.

Stephanie Murphy for helping me stay close to target and chasing the big ideas.

Michelle Elmquist for the cool badges, the assistance, and the ever hilarious camaraderie

Lisa Slavid for listening to me think out loud for months before I put waking up into blog and community form.

Dave Markowitz for hosting the Wake Up week Story Charming Party.

Floyd Rocker for taking care of me the 9 fevered days I succumbed to a mysterious virus while barely meeting deadlines.

The Wake Up callers who woke up with me at 4 a.m. to create a community of intention and awareness—and as a result, magic happenings throughout the day and the week.

The wonderful contributors to the Waking Up series who answered the call to share their work on Story Charmer, and as a result engaged, inspired and opened readers with what you shared.

The contributors and interviewees of my last blog project, Memory to Light, for helping to inspire this one — Julie Daley, Laura Smith, Gillian Berry and all of the folks who made moving conversation in the comments.

My therapist for a weekly dose of wake up and the tools to becoming a happier, more honest, trusting, and in-love woman in progress.

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Anxiety dreams in a day like sleep

Anxiety dreams. Have them? Some friends and I were comparing ours last week when I realized that THAT DAY had itself been an anxiety dream: Hurrying to get home because of a date I was already too late for, traffic on all north-south streets  backed up into the intersections, and even a tiny old lady taking two light-lengths to shuffle her walker across the road in front of me, and at one point even to stop and rest. At this pause I finally laughed, right before I got home and cried my eyes out.

When I finished crying, long, loud, sad bouts of tears that, the longer they came, the more I realized it wasn’t about the being late or missing my date or the little old lady or the traffic being impassable. It was a release of something deeper and older in me that finally had to come out, perhaps attached to the familiar anxiety. And when I was emptied of it, depleted, exhausted and salty with tears, I felt…awake. I felt my body weight, heavy under me now that the psychic weight had lifted. I felt young and old. I felt…my self, spent…and utterly awake to a new experience, as if a storm had cleared up and on the other side of it a brand new view.

You’re invited to Wake Up with me

Just like a crazy dream, the only way out of the anxiety was to wake up from it. Had I kept sleeping, I might never have made it…home, really, to my self.

Throughout March I’ll be writing on my blog about WAKING UP, shifting consciousness individually and otherwise, leveling up in this game of life we play. And I’d love your thoughts leading into it.

What comes to mind for you when you consider waking? What does waking mean to you, and in the same vein, what does SLEEPING mean to you?

Waking from winter into spring

The project will start March 1. I’ll be writing about it up to and through end-March, and would love to play with your ideas, stray thoughts, one-liners, deep beliefs, in this month-long meditation.

I’ve also got a few tricks under my pillow I’ll share closer to the start. Till then…

Think about it. Come over. Wake up with me.

P.S. You can do more than show up to wake up:

If you want a deeper part in the project, you’ll be able to join or follow along. More details to come on that. For reference, here’s what my last blog project looked like (click down there on the yellow badge). This one will have the same girl-on-a-journey thread, and hopefully the same community story circle flavor.

Memory to Light

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