bravery in weakness

Last week was a hard energy week. Everything came at me and I was raw. Recovery has been slow. I’m immensely thankful that I had a busy week with work, otherwise I would be on the floor.
A friend said “I can see why Robin Williams made that choice.” I totally get it. I hadn’t felt that much collected pain in a long time. It brought up some old wounds, some fresh ones, and I was reeling.
I felt like a cosmic washing machine for collected energy. 

Sometimes, I too want to pack it in. I don’t want to feel all of this so deeply. I just want my life. This may explain my desire to hide out from the world in a small shack somewhere. I don’t want obligations, expectations, commitments….nothing. Just the clothes on my back and a few other things. I get how people get to this place.
Pain is distorting when it gets to those levels. I know I’m not thinking clearly and I also know what I’m experiencing is bigger than me. It’s teeter tottering between two worlds and I feel like I’m being pulled apart. Thankfully, I was able to meditate today and it was sooo good. I just want to spend all day wrapped in cosmic dust. I need the healing.
I think last week was magnified because I had to make a decision to walk away from a project. I knew it was coming just not so quickly, and the decision was made before I said it. The hard part was hearing some judgmental opinions based on my actions. It still hurts to hear some comments. I wonder if I’ll ever be strong enough? I took these hurts into the next week and it makes sense why I would be knocked over.
I wish the Universe would give me a warning before the tidal wave comes. 
As for Robin Williams, send him some love. He’s a brave soul, living openly as he did. I love all the cherished message across Facebook giving him the respect he deserves. We’ve come a long way when we are able to embrace the bigger message.292304_10151235635703356_1185720136_n

Manicures, time, and things of love

I was never really into fashion. That was her thing and I didn’t want anything in common with her. I was a silly child. I don’t know when the interest started but suddenly I loved all things designed. This was definitely her eye I was sharing. Secretly I wanted to bond with her as distance stood between us. I craved her touch and love. She was so very gentle and I starved for that. She was such a torn flower, hanging onto the shriveling stem. What little was left in there, keeping her blowing in the wind, was a secret she kept.

Instinctively, I knew connecting with her had to be done without fuss and genuinely so. I didn’t want her to run away again.

I started by giving her manicures. She was hesitant and gave a shy smile. I knew this could work. I loved my mother’s hands. One of the things I miss most. Her touch was sensitive, soft and loving. This moment I cherished and did it every week.

He even had the audacity to ask once, “what about my hands…aren’t you going to show me love too?”

“No”, my eyes held his telling him everything. I gave him my back and he never brought up the subject again. I was fourteen, and unknowingly learning how to love.

On the weekends, I would look at “Style with Elsa Klensch”. All fashion! Who knew I would turn out that way. Running to her asking, “Elsa Klensch is coming on do you want to watch it with me?”

I remember holding my breath in the hopes she would.  She did but didn’t like it.  I’m laughing again.  My mother’s sense of style was not modern and yet it was.  There was a simplicity to her dress. These moments went something like this…

“What is that?  That’s not even cut for her body.”
“Is that her breast?”  She whispered this, hand on mouth, shocked.
“Who wears that color gray?  No one can or SHOULD!”
“Such a waste of fabric. Oh my gosh look at that fabric how can they do that?”
“Is she naked under there? OMG she is! Arifah what are you making me watch?”

She became increasingly frustrated and I more, and more happy. Witnessing her come to life and sharing passion was a dream. My held breath carved out the moment, uninterrupted. I did this as often as time would allow me to collect.

I was quietly visiting a local boutique and got to know the owner. She would tell me when the new lines would come in, and I would run to see the new collection. One day she asked me, “Have you ever modeled? I can use you. It’s not hard, no need to get nervous.”

I was excited, but had to convince my father and knew the odds were against me. That’s why I didn’t tell him. I told my mother. Yeah, I was learning strategy from early on. I approached my mother cautiously.

“Mom, you know Mrs. X of ‘…’ shop?”

“Yes,” an equally cautious response.

“Well, she asked me to model at a show she’s having for the new line, and -.”

“What? You are going to model?”

I thought I was in trouble for making plans without asking her first. I was praying to make it out alive. “Yes…well…what I mean is that I’d like to -.”

“What are you wearing? Did she show you the dress? OMG, the shoes! Always! Always! Choose the shoes. Don’t let ANYONE choose the shoes for you. They make the look.” She was gushing, eyes excited and not looking at me, but through me.


“Yes,” she inhaled, and instantly knew she had to tone it down, or I would run away.

“Do you want to see what she wants me to wear? I have no idea what shoes she wants.”


“But, you have to let me talk. I don’t want you doing this for me. Don’t tell her anything about the shoes. I want to do this myself. Can you do that?” Trepidation flooded my face. This was the first time we spoke as equals. I felt exposed, vulnerable and didn’t want her turning away again.  We were so delicate, a few spun webs holding us together many strands broken.

“OK.” She quickly agreed.

This makes me smile. I love that she knew how important this was to us, me. She immediately took off her apron and turned to the staff and said we’re leaving for a bit, and put my sisters in charge. In the 1/4 mile walk she talked my ear off. Telling me why the shoes mattered. I was suddenly walking with Elsa Klensch.

She behaved in the boutique never once interrupting me. She talked with the owner, and once all the mothering questions were over she handed the conversation over to me.  I made plans for trying on the clothes and yes, I did ask about shoes.  She smiled.

Oh yes, when it came to my father it was all matter-of-fact. She just told him this is what I was doing and that she approved and that’s that. You should have seen his face it all happened so fast. There must have been something distracting him because this quickly became unimportant.

Did I ever tell you how she taught me to walk? Let me say, my mother could walk the cat walk. She knew how to hold her body and saunter across a stage. I was stunned. She got rid of my tomboy mannerisms, but that was years earlier and another story.

Creating bonds are delicate and intricate – easily broken, trampled, ignored and shattered. Sometimes it can’t be done when the person is here, walking Earth. I had to do it afterwards. I had to break the cycle that kept me trapped living the pain of my mother. I carried her burden for years as a karmic undertaking. It wasn’t mine to carry. She had more freedom residing inside her that very few knew of. I was too young to know. She was before her time. Circumstances can dictate shallow actions that skew truth. It’s heart, and moments that have quietly spoken love, that reaches through all times, and after death, to mend everything.

Another excerpt from “Art of Receptivity”, my memoir.  So strange to write those words, the title of the book and knowing it’s mine. There’s anticipation, and I don’t feel that too often.

the love of silence

Writing a memoir is some hard work. Everything comes to surface. Everything. You cannot hide from yourself, and if I am…well the writing will suffer. For someone that loves silence and privacy this is beyond challenging.In a recent conversation about art I was shown a piece about a vagina. I immediately laughed and said “awesome”. I’m provoked by art that’s deeply intimate because my work is similar. This piece wasn’t vulgar it had depth. There was clearly a struggle for understanding that stood out beyond the striking force the obvious stated.

Immediately I’m on a quest. I ask “why?”

After some floundering and struggling with an answer they said “I don’t have one. I can’t explain that place and this is what I want to do. I’m tired of the bullshit artist say, that statement they repeat. A lot of it is just bullshit.” I knew they didn’t want to share and I relate because I don’t like to either.

I laughed in admiration. I said “say that…that’s your voice. Tell them it’s “none of your business”. What they see is the experience they are supposed to have because they can’t have the ‘why’ that created that piece. It’s private. Own that fact that you want to be private.”

It’s such a struggle for wanting to be heard, seen and remain unseen at the same time. Because we know that many people are trying to connect to artist because of a “cool” factor. Some of us run for the hills from that, because it’s so removed from connection, and that’s what we’re really seeking, and not.

It’s a mind trick.

For me, I’ve lived silently because it’s easy to become invisible when abuse is rampant.  It’s a defense mechanism.  I became an observer and content with being unseen.  Silence is a comforting friend and it knows me.  I don’t need to explain who I am or why I hide.  I’m OK in silence.  It’s a cocoon.So how do I write those things that thrive in darkness?  I was comfortable with them there. This has been my block, I’ve been resisting writing it all down.  There’s some silences that no longer serve.

What I’m doing is preparing myself for being open when I love being closed.

They asked “when you finish writing the memoir, will it end?”
“No. It will become something else.”Absolution is a yearning that stretched from the soul into the human. We strive to feel it while in form.





I’ve started seeing a counselor that’s an empath. This is one of the best decisions I’ve made so far. I actually didn’t make the choice. An amazing friend pointed me to this help, and I jumped. 
It’s such a relief to speak ‘as I am’, an empath. I don’t need to explain myself away…thin down my experiences so they can be understood. I’m also not feeling the judgment that comes from a lack of understanding. This is such a relief. Because judgment feels like knives, or hitting a brick wall. The energy of this space has always challenged me and I typically have to run.

I’ve always struggled with the advice “create a shield of protection around you”, to keep negative energies out. It felt like I was closing myself off from receiving, and it never worked. In one of my sessions, she said “create a sacred space around you, and this way no one can just enter. It’s a violation of your space”. I’ve never had it explained this way before and it immediately clicked. I could breathe, and felt unconfined.

Finally, solution.

As I was driving away from a session, I felt open and fully free. I wasn’t hiding any longer. I can’t express enough how wonderful it is to feel your own body, your own feelings, your own thoughts….to not feel crazy. To have understanding eyes look back and say “it’s OK.”

I told a friend about this post last week and how I was just writing to be selfish and didn’t want to publish it.  As soon as I spoke the words I knew I had to post this.  I don’t want to share this part of myself. I like it when I could keep my center safe. Now that’s no longer enough. I’m sitting in a sea of Divine Love, my sacred space, and I am safe. They’re pushing me hard to break free of my own chokeholds. I’m no longer allowed to hide away. I’ve given myself ‘Up’ to this process. My heart is wide open, I’m vulnerable, scared, and not.

I’ve told my children “it’s not about knowns, it’s about ‘knowing’, and this helps you through unknowns…that’s what I’m preparing you for.  If you can learn to trust your heart, where knowing resides, during the unknowns well…”  I needed to listen to my own advice, and was likely saying it more for me than them.

"Surfaced" It's not about knowns, it's 'knowing', this helps your through the unknowns.  Part of a series of pictures "Love Train: 365 days of hearts"

It’s not about knowns, it’s ‘knowing’, this helps your through the unknowns. (This image is part of a series called “Love Train: 365 days of hearts”)

I just know I can’t go back to not feeling my skin. For years I couldn’t. It was just 4 years ago those sensations came alive. It happened when I told myself “I can’t live a lie anymore”.  In that moment I felt touch, and was stunned with the realization of how many years I was living numb.

Being authentic is hard and easy. Now that I’ve tasted life this way there’s no going back. I’m not resisting the painful crawl on gravel anymore. I’m allowing and things are moving much faster. Thankfully relief is feeling the other side hold my hand and say “it’s OK…we’re here, we’ve always been here.”

It’s not balance we’re creating, it’s harmony. When I’m able to feel the field of love that’s constant, my center – me, there’s harmony with what ‘is’. This harmony gives me the capability to cope with the imbalances that’s always around.

I see it.  I feel it.  I’m getting to ‘there’.



if only found

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
I couldn’t agree more.  My soul choose this body and all of the crazy emotions I’m experiencing.  I’ve recently been through a low and my human friends swooped in and rescued me.  I’m learning how quickly life changes when I’m humble. Humility is the sure way to ‘receptivity’.  In bowing down my heart opens.This next year, I’m dedicating to my friends that have stood next to me during the last three years.  They have done it with immense love and honor.  I didn’t know love like this before.  I think “love isn’t a description…it’s a discovery”.

So for the next 365 days I’m taking a photo of a heart.  I find them everywhere.  The collection will be called “Love Train”.  LOL! Yes, this song has been playing around my mind for the last week. Here’s the first in the series….


“if only found” by Arifah

…to ease


There’s this reaching from the other side into this side. Maybe it’s always happening and I’m really just noticing. Yes, that makes more sense.

It’s interesting watching the intuition and how much louder it is now. Things are happening rapidly. Well I’ve said I love change…and I do, but it’s time for a change.  I’m going to start saying “I love flow and things coming to me with ease”. :)





Writing me, to find her


Excerpt from “Art of Receptivity”, a memoir and a work in progress…

Her attempt at leaving him failed. He found her at a small house. I don’t remember it as a hotel, rather a tiny bungalow, where you can rent rooms. It was close to the ocean. I think she left her soul in that small place, or a piece of heart.
There was fear, pain, sorrow, shame, and a vastness that fell away into the dark cliffs behind her eyes. She was hidden way in there. She resigned into herself. I honestly don’t know how you survive this place, and for such a long time. We can be resilient in the strangest of manners.
My soul swallows her pain in the hopes it leaves Earth never to return.

The next years were a blur. She moved in and out of daily motions. Normalcy was a deadening, inhaling all blue air and exhaling stagnation. He seemed to thrive in the staleness and surged up as Hades with dust, and spit.

I could feel him long before I saw the van drive down the hill. Standing in front the window, restless, not in my thoughts, but in his. The insanity swirling through mind and blood, his temperature rising as he worked through a story. He lived in this place, creating an external life from the internal lies. I just didn’t know I was feeling him, and thinking his thoughts. I thought they were mine. This is when I started shrinking away from people. I couldn’t tell what were my feelings from theirs. I was mud.

As soon as I saw the van pull into the driveway, and could see his face I knew what the evening held. I would run to my room and put on my headphones getting lost in music.

My brother was great with things. He could replicate anything he looked at. He pulled speakers apart and built two new ones, housing and all. Before he moved out he gave me all his stereo equipment. I was in bliss. I mean this was the jackpot, two turn tables, a mixer, equalizer, amp and some sweet speakers. He didn’t know he was saving my soul at the time. Music was how I drowned out the noise of the energy from others. I could feel my emotions again. I lived in this fantasy world of being a DJ. I found something I was good at and no one could touch or take away. It was my world. I was safe here.

My father hated anything I loved. I don’t think I even needed to say that. If anyone laughed, or derived pleasure he had to stomp on it. That’s why I kept all my art and poems secret. I would sketch and write late at night, after he went to bed. Many times waking up at my small desk, my neck stiff from being bent over, and a solid crease in my forehead from the edge of the desk.  The pain from the indented skin was a pleasure.  I owned this moment.  There was no one else with me at 2 am.  When they slept so too did their energy.  I loved waking up in a fog, looking at the small lamp keeping me company, and rediscovering MY art.  Pages of smudged pastels filled me with peace, and here I learned to appreciate a Love that can only be found in certain silences.

I had music. She had her garden. Anything my mother touched turned to gold. Her garden was beautiful, the flowers took her tears and gave her beauty in return. She didn’t know I saw her crying all the time. I knew to leave her alone. It was hard for me to take her sorrow that’s why I couldn’t get close to her. I just didn’t know this was my reason for avoiding her. I always thought her cold, and cut off. That’s not true. She was keeping her feeling hidden from her children. She saw the pain her leaving brought to us, and there was nothing to do. She carried the burden of the shame and the opinions everyone had. It was years later before we all remembered her attempt at leaving. I was ashamed at how I treated her and I’m glad for the shame.  I don’t want it to lessen.  She deserves this honor.

My admiration for my mother is deep. When I look back at how she held together as a woman. She used her craft at sewing to keep her appearance flawless. It was a crutch. In all the years of him insulting her, at home and out in public, not once did she say a derogatory word about him. She never insulted him as a man. This deep sense of being a woman is something that confounds me.

It’s my search today, allowing the woman in me to swim.

My past doesn’t end as much as I’d like it to. It continues and I’m discovering myself hidden in black letters and the various words they want to become. I’m not writing this it’s writing me. Can you please converge faster? Can the letters just flow like fresh rain and fill my thirst?

My mind wanders to her dreams, her desires, and if her heart still resides in the small home she tried to use for escape. One day I’ll go and look for that house and see if it’s there. I think I need a garden and grow roses. I think that would please her. 


On the block sits the pen


I’ve had blocks before but this time I’m scared. Since I’ve fallen in-love with writing I don’t want it to leave. I get it thought. There’s no room when sorrow sinks in.After the memories surfaced several weeks ago, my body went through all the steps and is still going through it. There was a period where I felt my mother; I occupied her body. I didn’t know what was happening initially. Then I felt her being. It’s as if I was seeing her in the past and processing the pain, grief and sorrow. The sorrow took me over. That’s where I lost myself. As soon as I acknowledged her presence, the emotions eased but didn’t leave. I think I was a conduit for the past, maybe a lingering energy that was trying to die. It was trying to put itself to rest and using my body to do it.Crap…I don’t know the reasons.

It came at me like a water, funneling from my center up through my head and falling away, all over my skin. I resisted initially then just gave in. I’ve never felt sorrow so deeply before, and it was quicksand.

A wonderful friend said “You are living in the present, in a way that actively rights the wrongs of the past.” Gosh, I adore her. I felt a small sliver of peace again.

indexIt’s been something getting back to my center. Allowing the layers to fall away was not easy and I’m still in process. Thankfully, most of it is over. I am feeling ‘me’ again.I’ve been grappling with how I’m to allow my father’s presence around me again. I don’t want to be the person that shuts herself off. I want to grow…but I just don’t know how he fits anymore. It’s tricky since I’m writing a memoir and all the words fled. I don’t blame them.

I had wonderful stories I wanted to share of him and now I feel like I’m painting a picture that’s just not real. Yet it is. Isn’t this the peril with a memoir? I get to write this story how I choose. It’s mine. Being authentic is a tricky place sometimes.

I only make sense when I write. I get to see my thoughts on page and I can reason myself…I can see what doesn’t work and what does. I can discern. I don’t have to hide. I’m open, exposed, and I’m comfortable with the discomfort. That thought has returned “how do I fit in here?”, and I’m not happy about it. I’m dying to write.

Maybe this is enough for now. I don’t have answers. Maybe it’s just the questions that will open me up and I’ll feel the stirring again to pen my life.


stoking my heart’s fire


“alohaleya” says it way better than I can….I feel it…and love it…enjoy…

Originally posted on alohaleya:

Fire has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s partly the talk of April’s cosmic intensity, but it’s also the desire to feel my own inner fire. To have it burn so strong and steady that I don’t question myself about anything anymore.

I want my life to be fuelled by that glowing, beautiful fire within. The fire that can be trusted to stir, ignite, heat up…but never harm or burn.

My inner fire is my inner voice. My inner voice is my heart.

'harmony', by the amazing toni carmine salerno.

‘harmony’, by the amazing toni carmine salerno.

For many years, I didn’t trust my heart. Somewhere in childhood, I began to rely quite heavily on my mind, my brain. I was always the smartest in school, and this became my ‘thing’. My brain was consistent. It was my trusty friend, and it wouldn’t let me down. It delivered.

My heart, on the other hand…

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Fragility of Respect

Chaos spurs growth. Well these last few weeks I grew a forest and I’m still here.

In the middle of my own personal implosion and deciding to sort recycling in the kitchen to distract my mind, my boys walked in and dropped a bomb. I stood there holding some piece of plastic, don’t remember now, looking at them in disbelief. I didn’t feel capable right then. I just wanted to ferment in my own sorrow, and run away. That’s the beauty of life, it shows up to pull us beyond ourselves; salvation.

I knew this conversation was coming I just thought it was going to happen in their 20s. In addition, we talked a lot about how we interact and one son was not happy with me. I can be selfish…I have that artist personality. I like my privacy and space. He felt neglected. This was hard to hear but I’m profoundly moved he was able to communicate his feelings. I couldn’t promise to always do better, but I promised to improve.

Having grown up without this freedom in expression I’m so glad that I have it in my home. I feel like I could die peacefully knowing I’ve accomplished this. It’s easy and it’s not easy. I’ve been ridiculed by so many people on how non-parental I am…I shake my head because they just don’t understand what it takes to foster respect. Criticism and judgments are easy.  Asking questions keeps us open and receptive to each other.

Respect is an art.  It’s something you’re constantly working at and it says “I’m thinking about how you feel.”  It’s not a one time thing. In order to have it…there needs to be freedom of expression, and no withholding of emotions. That’s basically blackmail and it’s short lived…I don’t have any relationship that made it through this kind of exchange. 

I don’t have many people I can freely vent with; where I can say those crazy things that fly into my head free of worrying about their judgment. That’s why I don’t share myself with too many. For me, the moment judgment shows up it feels like my energy has hit a concrete wall and I quickly become weary…I just can’t take it.

I think my boys are the same. We’re going to have more conversations around energy interpretation. The thing they are both facing is the natural instinct to suppress their voice…intuition. It’s a tricky time. Being 14, they don’t have the emotional experience to pull from, listening and doing what adults say is natural. Needless to say speaking up is creating internal havoc. As it should. They are learning to be brave.

So what does it take to have freedom in your home?  Here’s what I’ve learned so far…and a lot of it we already know.

Allow. Let the person say “this person is an ass!”…it’s what comes after that’s truly important and not the initial sentence. Patience, and allowing the words to flow as they wish, teaches more of what the issue is than getting sucked into a judgment, a reaction to the initial statement.

Listen. The art of listening involves way more than the ears – it’s multi-sensory. It’s feeling the emotion behind the frustration. If you’re quiet and don’t look for a response they will tell you everything. The moment is about them not you; have to get the ego out of the way.

Heart. These moments are that of the heart. This is where voice needs to come from, intuition needs to speak. The brain, I’ve found is reactive. It is quick to pull from the past to use in the present. I want the moment to shape itself…however it may end up. In order for me to be giving I have to be from my heart.

Explore. To be from exploration means I have no expectations. The moment I think “I need to tell them…”, I’m missing something big and the moment switches back to me. Most often they know the solution, and not giving them an answer. It’s allowing them to find it for themselves.

Support. I use these words with my boys “I’ve got your back and we’re in this together…I can’t speak for you, and I can’t promise it’ll be easy, but I’m here…I’m supporting you and everything I say will be about what YOU want…so tell me what that is.” EVERY time I say these words, I mean EVERY time, their chests inflate, you can see the surge of confidence flow up and through them. Their eyes light up, and I get the quiet male head nod of acknowledgment. I can see they feel capable to face what they need to. That’s powerful!

Ask. I ask them what they want the home to feel like.  How do we want to communicate through an issue: “do you want us to spend 10 hours talking about the same issue or get to it in 1 hour?” Guess what they agree to? This means that we all have to acknowledge our grievances, there’s open communication – nothing is wrong, and we have to commit to the solution. What I’ve found that from this energy space nothing is a compromise.

Side note: I think the word compromise has a deflated energy associated within it. It says we’re giving up a part of ourselves, to settle for the other. I don’t really like it. I’ve found it’s fine to compromise in work and some situations…however if we’re compromising on our feelings…this could be suppressing. If there’s love weaving through the moment then there’s no compromise. It’s all willingness. We WANT to make the moment better. That’s far, far more powerful…that desire. If that’s not there then the issues may reoccur. We don’t have too much of that, thankfully. Frankly, I don’t have the tolerance to talk about the same issues day in day out.

I put this out in the world so I can have it more in my world. It’s not always the case. There’s so much judgment out there it’s a swamp you suddenly fall into, unnoticed. I’m very careful with friends now….even though they say “it’s OK go ahead vent…” a part of me worries if we truly have the freedom of expression. Will the serpentine withdrawal come one day and I’m left stunned?

That’s why I told my boys that our similarities are lovely, but how we communicate through our differences shows everything. Respect is crucial.  Everyone wants to be heard, acknowledged.  If what you’re saying is ignored..well that’s a problem and not healthy for any relationship.  You have to learn to safeguard your feelings and not let anyone tell you “you’re wrong to feel that way”.

The moment you let others speak for you eventually they will say the wrong things.  

Freedom comes from being considerate.  It’s not a one time thing it takes thought and ongoing actions.  Respect is the work of an ironsmith.  It’s taken me a while to learn my tools.  And what we have now as a result…well it’s bliss.