Posts in 12 Step
Of Hummingbirds and Spending Plans

Although I have a monthly spending plan with categories for all of my expenditures, if I’m honest, it’s actually more of a check to see if I went over in any categories at the end of the month plan. 

Back in the days when my clothing allocation was $600 per month, it was a challenge if I wanted to buy an $800 pair of shoes. I’d have to find another category that I had not yet over-spent in and pilfer from that column. If you haven’t already spit out your kombucha or choked, read on.

You may be relieved to hear that my clothing allocation is now $50 per month. And perhaps you can imagine how formidable that can be for someone with my love of fashion. Add to that the fact that, now, I will only buy clothing that is organic, fair trade, US made or consignment and you have a serious fashion challenge. A completely first world problem, I am aware.

Last week, I had already spent my allotment on a couple of fantastic pieces at a consignment store here in Sebastopol that was having a 50% off sale. Major score. But I have been dreaming of a long blue, very feminine, diaphanous dress for quite some time.

Following a lovely birthday lunch with a friend, I strolled into a Mill Valley consignment store that had just such a dress hanging in the window. And it was only $48. Major conundrum here! Despite the balance in my clothing category, naturally, I had to try it on. 

The fit was impeccable. The color, stunning. I felt sublime in it. The store owner even cooed. (And this is a very grumpy store owner.)

I called the friend. I was trying to be good and stick to my plan. For a change. She suggested that I see if there were any other categories in my plan that I could re-allocate from. (I know whom to call, right?) But I knew that this was my gig. How was I ever to stick to my plan if I was always “borrowing” from other categories?

So I made a deal with the Universe. I asked for a sign. If it was okay to buy this dress, I wanted to be shown. And it was my birthday week...

I walked back to my car. It was parked in front of the house where I used to live, and in the window was an owl. Owls happen to be one of the symbols I was incorporating this month in the archetype work that I’ve been studying. Okaaaaaaaay. Maybe. This could just be me being willful – seeing what I wanted to see.

So I asked for another sign. This time I was specific. I would walk back to the store and if I saw a hummingbird, I would go ahead and buy the dress. I walked around the corner to the store. No hummingbird. Damn. I turned around and walked the block and a half back to my car. Plenty of flowers. Still no hummingbird. And I really looked. Okay. I was willing to walk away. I had made a deal and I was going to keep my end of it.

I texted my friend and told her of my bargain with the Universe and that I didn’t buy the dress.

My next stop was to head up the mountain to visit a different friend who was camping there. I knew that I couldn’t change my mind about the dress because by the time I had gotten back down the mountain post-visit, the store would be closed. I was quite proud of myself in trusting that if I were truly to have that dress that I longed for, the Universe would have shown me. I wasn’t going to be willful about it for a change.

I headed up the winding pass toward the top of Mt. Tam. About a third of the way up the mountain a text came in that, at a glance, I could see was from the friend I had messaged earlier. I had Siri read the text to me. It said, “Ha! Look at what I just bought.” Huh? 

I pulled over at the next opportunity and saw that there was a photo attached to the text. It was of a greeting card with a bejeweled hummingbird on it!!! I texted her back. “Seriously? You bought the card before you saw my text?” She said that she was in the line with the card in hand when she read my text.

hummingbird.jpg

Wow. 

Needless to say, I made a u-turn. 

Twenty minutes before closing time, I pulled into a spot directly in front of the store that already had money in the meter. The dress was still hanging in the window. It was mine. Happy birthday to me.

I do believe that we are given everything we need in this life. And some of what we want. Often a lot of what we want. I have to remember to be grateful. And to trust. Perhaps it was that trust and the willingness to let go that brought that hummingbird to me in the final moment. 

In the big picture, pretty dresses are pretty insignificant. But delight is a gift that we get to have, too. It’s sort of a wink. An, “I see you.” 

Thank you, Spirit. Thank you for all of the gifts that you give us. Every single day. And thank you for the delight of the dress!

MFOMG - The Many Faces of My God
moon.jpg

More than two and a half decades ago, at the recommendation of a therapist, I began attending 12 Step meetings to deal with a partner’s addictions. In the program, the 2nd step is about “coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity”.  So, working the second step is, in part, about getting some sense of what/who you believe in and can trust. My sponsor suggested I write about what my ideal Higher Power would be like. 

We had coffee before my regular Friday meeting, I opened my journal and shared my list of adjectives. She then asked me to close my eyes and allow an image to come to mind. What sprang into my awareness was a picture of the moon. This was perfect , I thought. There were so many metaphors that worked with this. The moon was always there, whether I could see it or not. It reflected light. It was feminine...Yes. With the moon, I had a sense of a Higher Power that could work for me.

You see, my God of Old was of the bearded variety. Strict. Unyielding. Punishing. Masculine. The Ultimate Judge. Not exactly warm and fuzzy.

He was the God that sent you to hell if you didn’t go to church on Sunday or say the right number of Hail Marys on the rosary. Heaven forbid you ate a hamburger on Friday in Lent. Damn. I was doomed.

Then there was the issue of, um, truth bending. There was that New Year’s Eve when I was supposed to have been babysitting.  And drinking a pitcher of Whiskey Sours with a boyfriend before Prom. And the charge account number at the pharmacy that I memorized so that I could replenish my mascara stash without having to ask. And, and, and. These were the minor issues.

And. What was far more serious were the internalized bits about how selfish I was. How I was inconsiderate and just plain bad and deserving of punishment.  Frankly, from what I understood, I just wasn’t very loveable. My lack of friends proved that. Lots of stuff proved that.

And then, there were those inherent beliefs that I carried from my mother and hers and generations and generations before. That we were not worthy. Flawed. Inferior. Inconsequential. Dependent and required to be sexually submissive.

It was seriously challenging to have a nourishing, supported-feeling relationship with a God that held so many strikes against me. Trust? Really? When you already feel that you are a piece of shit, your first move is to generally cover your ass.

So, the idea of a feminine, light-reflecting, ever-present entity was quite a relief. This was the beginning of the nurturing, nourishing relationship I really needed to have with God.

Fast forward a couple of decades and the face of my God has continued to soften. She has evolved into One who embraces us with open arms, rather than judgment. Complete - not conditional - forgiveness. The Great Mother says*, “There is nothing you can do to make me love you. There is nothing you can do to make me not love you.” How better could one imagine Grace?

It is with this feminine face of God that I have finally begun to feel safe. And held. And to have the permission to begin to re-discover my truest essence. Perhaps this softening has been brushing you, too, with its feather touch?

And it is with this, that the masculine face of my God has also softened, become more gentle and forgiving. More of the grand, kind King. Less of the Ogre.

And it is with this, that I have begun to see the face of God in all things. In all experiences. In all creatures. It is this reflection of Spirit that, too, makes me feel held. Lightly, from the sight of a hummingbird dance; to the sturdy embrace of a crashing, roaring Yosemite waterfall.

And in feeling held, I feel more empowered to know what I know. To reclaim what I had forgotten centuries ago. To stand fiercely. Proudly. Courageously. To forgive and to create a new vision. To have compassion. And Grace.

 

*Ariel Spilsbury, The 13 Moon Oracle