Learning to Love

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​I’ve had the biggest fear of dogs and cats since I was young. I realised recently it’s because in their presence, I have no control. Don’t get me wrong – I wanted to love them. They’re so cuddly, loving and pure. I so yearned to pick them up and just hug.

But because we don’t speak the same language, don’t have the same brains, they could hurt me. They were seductive, wild and dangerous things. A dog could sense and misunderstand my fear for intentions to attack, and accidentally scratch or bite out of his fear. The cat, unable to say, “I want to play and not be held”, could scratch in her squirmy attempt to jump out of my arms and onto the couch.

And so for most of my life, I’ve missed out on the unique love and affection only a mindless animal, free of human inhibitions, can give. Even when I started getting used to kittens and puppies, I’d approach with extreme caution – and in my guarded manner, barely receive anything in return.

Until the day came, of course, when I couldn’t resist anymore the charms of the sweet kitten I live with – watching her follow me, chase her tail, and then accidentally bang into doors was simply too much for me. I had to hold this silly, adorable little angel. So for the first time, I picked a kitten up with the sole intention of cuddling and kissing her, loving fully, rather than half-way loving, half-way protecting myself.

In those brief seconds, my entire heart melted. I felt a deep love, but I also felt for the first time in my life from an animal, deeply, unconditionally loved from this tiny creature. I could feel how tiny she is, her rapid heartbeat underneath her soft white fluff, and realised she was just as vulnerable as I was. But she will still letting me hold her, despite the fact I was huge, just woke up, and looked and felt like a mess. Even if she scratched or bit, it wasn’t meant as an attack, but was simply her own form of self-protection from a larger creature she doesn’t understand.

It reminded me of the boasting ways of the flower from “The Little Prince”, when the Prince realises she simply boasts and acts cold as a means of protection – for she is so tiny and secretly aware of her own smallness in the vast flower world, so insecure, so afraid he too will realise how small she is one day and his love will go. That she wasn’t something to be annoyed by, angry at or, or afraid, but a beautiful little being to feel compassion for, just trying her best.

Did she end up scratching me? Yes, she did. She no longer wished to be held and wanted to be set free to further explore the big world that is the living room, so in her small paw’s attempts to climb out of my arms, accidentally scratched me along the way. But instead of freaking out and vowing to never hold her again, or if I do, going back to wearing armor, I simply let her go. I had some scratches, but they were tiny, and nothing in comparison to the deep intimacy I just experienced surrendering to this tiny creature.

She still scratches me sometimes. Every now and then the rare dog will growl at me as I walk past. But I don’t run across the street as I used to, or at least most of the time I don’t. Kitten’s taught me that that’s life. You can’t predict who’s going to hurt you, and neither can you always control that. Scratches sometimes comes with love, but most of the time, those scratches and bites are a form of self-protection as a result of miscommunication and differences.

Does that mean you run away or shut off a part of yourself from the experience? No, because then you lose much more than you gain.

I got scratched, but I also got a glimpse of the best part of my own human nature and life: what it’s like to be yourself, with all your fears, in your ugly pajamas with no make up, procrastinating and messing it all up, and still be hugged, seen. The sweetness of a little creature looking up at you with big eyes, terrified of you, knowing you could kill her, not understanding your language, your brain, your ways, but still trusting you enough to let you cuddle her. Her love, giving me hope in an otherwise cruel world.

 So I surrender now, and let my kitty sometimes scratch and be mad at me. (She gives cold shoulders, I close the door because I’m busy/stressed and she wants kissies etc…) But then we work it out (she snuggles into my lap, I walk downstairs and give her extra attention) , because the love means more – and is worth more – than any of those fears.

In a word or two, the kitten’s taught me how to love.

kittysheena
Originally wrote in 2014
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Painting Away Pain

Painting another canvas as a form of meditation. I’m trying to teach myself to focus on the process vs outcome – to relax and enjoy the journey – as I create both art and my life. So many self-critical thoughts emerge but once the brush hits the canvas, my mind goes blank and surrenders. Painting away old pain, you could say.

Visit my Etsy shop to view more designs like these and buy when the canvas is done: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HerSoulExpression. You can also email me at hersoulexpression@gmail.com if you wish to make a purchase.

From my soul to yours,

Sheena

Green Sky

I wrote this last year during a stressful time I feared losing a loved one. I stumbled upon it again today and was grateful for the reminder.

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I went for a walk. It’s been a hard week. I needed guidance.

An hour later, my search led me back to where I began – nowhere. I found nothing.

Defeated, I stood still.

Surrendering, I bared my heavy heart to the heavens, looking up only to find a green sky.

In the Hindu tradition, green is the color of the heart chakra.

Gently, Rumi’s “only through the heart can you touch the sky” whispers to me. I smile and understand.

Be still. Go in. Stop running to the outside. Face your heart and let her speak. Let her break, so that she may break open to receive love. There lies your answer.

Love is always the answer.

Making the Struggle Count for Something Beautiful

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Today I felt quite soft and vulnerable so I doodled on a seashell and my hand for a few minutes. Still felt sad after but at least the pain was used to make beauty. I was glad for that. Because sometimes that’s all we can ask of life. That even if happiness is impossible to permanently hold onto, just make the struggle count for something beautiful. No matter how small.

And so today I am sad and scared and uncertain. But these little doodles, insignificant to all but my soul, saved the day. Because while I’m not happy, it meant something – namely that there’s more to life than being happy. There’s meaning, there’s beauty.

Maybe that’s enough.

Through the Fall, We Fly

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They told me to walk following the arrows and signs of other’s streets
Don’t look down, just up
And so I listened and I swallowed your maps and I looked both ways and up and up – what a good girl! – I even ran to get there faster faster faster
Following all the directions, running the race, ran ran ran

Until I fell into the forbidden Down
And stared it straight into its face
Only to find in that loud silence my voice once more
An xo and an arrow
Love now the guide, not you

Why didn’t they ever tell us that down there lies the true path we’d all been looking for?

-Through the fall, we fly

Let Go – Glimpses of Doodles I am Working On


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Every time I create one of these doodles, I feel like I am lifted into this stunningly beautiful space where I am deeply in touch with my feminine, the Indian in me, my playful inner child. My thoughts go silent and my heart takes over. The more I delve into this space, it’s like a cleansing and I can see who I am – a spiritual practice more powerful for me than meditation even. Somehow, my doodles are helping me metamorphose from caterpillar to butterfly.

That is pretty funny to me as these are feelings I searched again and again for in philosophy and spiritual books and teachers – really, in every domain of my life – yet somehow I am finding them by allowing myself to simply…doodle. I constantly ask myself questions like: How do I re-connect with my true self and intuition? Live a life that is calm, free, creative, playful and not stressed and like it belongs to somebody else? Joyful and fulfilled? Feminine and passionate?

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Then like a serious student and adult, I’d grab at every serious book or teacher on the subject I could find, or work, relationships, etc…I’d get mad at myself when my focus would stray elsewhere to the doodles on my journal. and other seemingly unimportant tasks. “Pay attention! This is serious work to help you connect with your true self, understand life, and embrace your purpose etc…” I’d sternly command to myself, only to find myself resisting even more. Until it dawned me a few months ago that this voice of resistance was not the problem but the solution – this is the voice of my inner child and true self screaming at me to get real and surrender.

So I started to allow myself to doodle and just “resist”. And I realized: How do I become playful? Drop the control. How do I listen to my intuition? Drop the control. How do I live a life of passion? Simple – just let yourself. You are already full of passion. People tell me that all the time. See it. Feel. Accept it.

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There is no need for so much serious speculation all the time – just play and live. I am realizing more and more nowadays it’s the adult in me that sometimes is more of hindrance to my life and happiness than anything. It’s the inner kid in me that is my true self and vibrant and beautiful – she has something gorgeous to express and she shined magnificently when she was younger, before certain painful experiences and the superficial world’s limiting beliefs got in the way. From my doodles, I am learning that the more I get aligned with her and listen to her, the more my life flows.

Funny how it is the  most seemingly insignificant, tiny things that are often the catalyst for great transformation if only we’d slow down and awaken to it.

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Peace through becoming, not fighting: India’s Independence Day

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Gandhi used to sit and study in this area as a young student. I like to just reflect here with a coffee sometimes, pondering not necessarily him – he was both a deeply loved and controversial man, and I don’t like to put people on pedestals – but his ideas and what he represents: non-violence. Peace. Grace confronting the worst of humanity. And winning.

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world” floats through my mind, as does an “eye for eye makes the whole world blind”. Especially poignant and ironic words given that across this very street, a bus was bombed that fateful day July 7, 2005 by Al Qaeda.

For me, India’s Independence Day is more than just another holiday. It stands out from America’s Independence Day because August 15, 1947 doesn’t commemorate a battle between good and evil, like how the American Revolution eventually led to independence from the colonizer.

India’s Independence Day is a day that symbolizes the triumph of humanity over our darker, broken shadow sides. There was literally no resistance. It was simply the surrender, the embodiment of peace rather than the ironic fighting for it, that helped melt away “evil.”

Peace helping wash away the walls that harden us as humans, leading to liberation. Achieving peace through becoming, not fighting.

Peace as the way to peace.

Words for both the inner and outer world to ponder.

Happy Independence Day, India.

In My Feminine, I Feel Free

A simple henna design I drew on my hand:

A Simple Henna Design I Drew On My Hand

I listened to this playlist I made entitled “Divine Feminine” while doing so:

I belly danced after.The sensuality of the dance and drawings swept me away into this stunningly magical space. No constricting lines existed there, just carefree curves and colours. In my feminine, I feel free.