On Living and Dying Day 25 by Marlena McGuigan

Thanks to the wonderful mind of Sreejit Poole, I added my contribution to his “On Living + Dying” series. Check out my post, but please check out everyone else’s too! There is some great mind matter in there.

The Seeker's Dungeon

The Ives

by Marlena McGuigan of Marsnplato

None of us survives this place.

That isn’t meant to be a grim reminder of our finite nature, being in a body and all; rather, it is a meant to be a reminder that we can choose how to live with the time we have. We can go through life with the perspective that we are barely surviving – and yes, so many of are “just getting by.” We can also go through life with the perspective that we are thriving – and yes, many of us are “successful” and “happy.” I know I’ve lived both – often simultaneously somehow.

When I think of what living + dying are all about, my mind goes in all sorts of different directions. First stop: my spiritual perspective. I tend to live with an all-loving, forgiving, and nonjudgmental or objective “God.” This God of mine isn’t separate…

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Tiny Art Show


There’s a tiny art show going on in June in Denver. I am joining it. I don’t think it’s going to be “tiny” as in only the owners and myself will be in attendance. I don’t think it will be “tiny” as in only little ideas will be shared. It’s called a tiny art show because pieces of art can be no larger than 5X5 inches.

So, I did these tiny pieces. They are 4.5×4.5 inches. I am going to get tiny frames this evening. The middle piece is actually a replica of a much larger canvas I’ve done. I have 4 requests for t-shirts. I am going to fulfill those requests and wait for a company like Urban Outfitters, Inc. to contact me because they want to buy the image(s). It’s all copyrighted, U.O., Inc. Even if you tweak it a little – there is no loophole here. Don’t test me.

I wanted to share about this tiny art show for a few reasons:

1.) If you’re interested, and you can get something out to 299 Detroit Street in Denver, Colorado 80206 by 12pm this Saturday (June 18th), hang-ready…then see more details on the event here.

2.) If you’re still interested, then also check out the Observashunal blog challenge on the quest for fire. What does this have to do with the tiny art show? Well, when I completed my tiny art series last night, the word “fire” landed itself above the word “water” in the piece on the right. You’ll put two and two together on that. Or maybe five and five. I have faith regardless.

3.) If you’re on life support with interest at this point, I’ll try to offer you a few last breaths of fresh air. I am adding Featured Artists to my business website soon. If you want to contribute somehow, I will be rotating artists and posting to a business blog beginning in July. My first post will be on the tiny art show.

4.) If you’re not interested in anything here, then I don’t know why you’re still reading.

5.) If for some reason your interest cannot let go at this point, I apologize. Because this sentence is the last sentence available to read here.

Face Off: Round Two

OK. So, I wrote a post on this generally ridiculous topic a bit ago (see: Face Off: Maggie vs. Marlena). Now it is time for my friend to get the Face Off Treatment. The FOT. The Brutal Truth in all its jest. The BT…iaij. Here. We. Go.

I have always likened my friend to Charlie Day. Yes, the same friend I hung out with during the end of the world (see: 12.21.12, enough said). You know what? Still true. Except now he has morphed into the spawn of Charlie Day and Russell Brand:

IMG_3309   +  IMG_3310  =  IMG_3307

Now, you probably can’t tell how much these people have in common just by their looks alone. Maybe you can. It probably would’ve been easier if my so-called friend would’ve taken a picture like Charlie Day and/or Russell Brand. He wouldn’t allow it. I can’t even mention his name (which is absurd because who wouldn’t want to be the spawn of Charlie Day and Russell Brand?!).

Anyhow, let’s go through the motions. Let’s see just how similar my friend-who-is-the-spawn-of-Charlie-Day-and-Russell-Brand is to his awesomely fictitious dads:

1.) Beards. Check.

2.) Manly hairiness in general. Check.

2.) Hilariousness and seriousness in all. Check.

3.) Wear nice suit jackets and/or collared shirts. Check.

4.) Use hands and/or eyes in and extreme fashion to express Self appropriately. Clearly. Check.

5.) Have strong opinions and witty minds. Check.

6.) Spawn has Charlie Day’s height and eyes, but Russell Brand’s performance aura. Check.

7.) Word. Masterminds. Who. Do. Not. Give. A. Fuck. Check, check, check it. Word.

8.) Rappers in a previous life. Check with God.

9.) Questionable belief and/or skeptical of said God. Check out what that phrase just affected in each.

10.) A liking for triangles. Who doesn’t like triangles? One of them, maybe.

11.) Of European descent. Probably all partially German. Definitely at least one of them. Check.

12.) Pretty effing cool. Check. For sure.

See, Black Mountain friend-who-is-the-spawn-of-cool-dudes? This blog post about you being you wasn’t so bad. I feel like you ought to embrace the truth. The BT…iaij. You be the judge (echem, with an opinion that is wrong). 🙂 BLOGGERS WHO READ THIS: I WANT TO SEE YOUR FACE OFFS. I want to see your FACES and how they are just SLIGHTLY OFF FROM ANOTHER(S). You just got served. (This phrase JUST got overplayed). Link back to me in the comments section if you so desire…and, as always, thanks for reading!

This prompt is loosely associated…but truly I just wanted to send another happy piece out there! Check it out: http://theseekersdungeon.com/2015/08/06/dungeon-prompts-using-our-words-for-spreading-joy/

Blog Posts Are Like Missing Persons Cases

Listen up, children. If we don’t find you within 72 hours, according to crime statistics, our chances of finding you drop to nearly 0%. Are you a blogger? Keep posting. Keep sharing. Keep calling out in anger, pain, sadness, humor, honesty, and delight. If you’re NOT like me, lots of people will find you. Because you can confidently call yourself a blogger; you probably post at least once every 72 hours. We find you. The ten of you reading these words may find me. I am a missing person in the blogosphere – but, don’t worry. I don’t need a milk carton image. People will probably mistake my picture for Maggie Gyllenhaal anyhow (see: https://marsnplato.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/face-off-maggie-vs-marlena/ ).

It seems like Facebook and other constant community connection hold domain over lots of other sharing. Like blogging. That’s cool. Something in me will not allow me to get on Facebook, however. And I have to listen to that internal screaming of ‘NOOOOOoooooOoooOooOOO!’ Otherwise, regret and kicking-self-in-the-ass ensues. I don’t want to kick myself in the ass. I don’t do enough yoga for that shit.

Blogs Are Like Missing Persons Cases Pic

Anyhow, when I tried to do a search for “milk carton kids images” on Google – as in, images of children on missing children on milk cartons – a band popped up. I forgot about them. Or maybe I had never heard of them? They sounded familiar. But they took me by surprise when all I wanted was to find an image of a milk carton to alter on Google. I found them. Maybe they need a blog? Doubt it. Seems like they have a lot of fans already- 68,474 listeners, in fact. AND 690, 164 scrobbles…what are scrobbles?! Shit. I’m behind. Mind you, this is all according to http://www.last.fm/music/The+Milk+Carton+Kids at 9:51 pm MST on 2/9/2015. That will probably change soon.

They’re probably on Facebook. Because they are more popular than actual milk carton images/kids. Now I will proceed to give them even more free advertising to the ten of you reading here. Mostly because I am too lazy to draw a milk carton and post a funny photo. The end.

PS – if you’re just as confused about this blog post as its very own writer, just look up “milk carton kids images” on Google. If Google leads you back here again, all I can say is everything is connected somehow. Good luck. See you on the flip side.

Image courtesy of: http://quitmumbling.com/2012/01/the-milk-carton-kids-live-the-largo-11212/

Face Off: Maggie vs. Marlena

Well, I don’t really mean to say “versus” – I love Maggie Gyllenhaal, and I totally take it as a compliment when people liken me to her. I admire her. I just had this absurd idea for a blog post pop into my mind after a very, very attractive Latino man said to me, “hey, you look like that actress – the one from The Dark Knight” today. I knew he was talking about Maggie Gyllenhaal, but I flirtatiously asked him, “which one?” After years of being mistaken for her, I decided it was time for a Face Off. (I wonder – does anyone say to Maggie, “hey, you look like that girl who lives in Colorado and is not famous at all”?).

Maggie SepiaMe Sepia
(As if you cannot tell: Maggie Gyllenhaal, left; Marlena McGuigan, right)

OK. Let’s face off here. Do we really look alike? Let’s see what similarities we have…

1.) Both photos from roughly 2008 – 2010. Check.

2.) Both photos set to Sepia tone to mask unlikeness. Check.

3.) Hair semi-curly in both, parted opposite directions. One less photo-prepped and voluminous than the other. Check. This feels like an “After” and a “Before” montage. In that order.

4.) Poses are different. Sense of “yep, here I am” the same. Check. (Note: one tone of ad libbed dialogue = sexy; other tone = tired and/or bored).

5.) Both kind of accidentally 1930s-flappers-esque in photos. Check.

6.) Similar eyebrows, although it is hard to tell because expressions are not the same. Check again later.

7.) Hands near face and/or holding head up. Check.

8.) One person in a photo shoot; the other in her apartment on 13th Avenue. Check.

9.) Jewelry in both. Different places. Check.

10.) Noses different. Check.

11.) Lips different. Check.

12.) Eyes a different color, but perhaps the same depth. Regardless, Sepia tone blurs the truth there – check.

13.) One is Half-rican American; the other is…not? Check with Maggie.

14.) One photo posted on http://amominredhighheels.com/maggie-gyllenhaal/ and taken by a photographer I wish I could find to give credit to; the other taken by me and posted here. Oh, and only here.

Anything missing? Yes. So much. Regardless, I am not Maggie Gyllenhaal, bottom line. I would love to trade places with her for a week though. She would get a VACA!! Except for this week – I am going on actual vacation, and I don’t want to trade places right now. She would still get a VACA(tion) after this week because I mostly teach art and music and kindergarten (yes, it is now a subject), work with some therapy clients and sleep. Who is she married to…? Just kidding. Sort of. No, really, I would rather be an adopted daughter or something. She is awesome, and if we ever pretend like we are the other person just to mess with people for a week, I think only people expecting me to act would be shocked and disappointed. I am not her. But, again, she’s awesome.

thanks for reading 🙂



My attraction-to meter is not interested in how a person looks. It never really has been, and it probably never will be. At least, not in this lifetime. It’s hard to believe that I may be in that small group labeled “anomaly” here. Don’t get me wrong, I have an eye for beauty – Patrick Wilson is a dreamy balance of masculine and feminine energies, Aden Young has a surprising fire-and-earth energy about him that is quirky and dorky and adorable, and Leonardo DiCaprio can have any woman or man or anything that he wants. Still, I am not really attracted to the outer – even in these celebrity profiles. It is what I perceive underneath the layers of illusion where hints of true essence can be found… that’s where I find myself drawn in by another.

Point blank: I am attracted to and fall in love with someone on a soul level. It is that feeling of just “knowing” there’s something here for us to do with one another. This same feeling happens when I find myself attracted to another as a friend, an acquaintance, a boss, and a teacher as well. With all of these various levels of relationship, I can tell when something is not genuine, not trusting, not good at not being full of outlandish projections, and not-truly-ever-started-so-that-we-can-finish (no matter how hard I try to deny that blatant truth). When I feel like I am in the same room with someone who doesn’t even know (or care to know) my life story – and who can’t see outside of their own – nothing is happening. Nothing. There is no true connection. And, I can fake my way through interactions right along with the the rest of them, but it is a guarantee that in those situations, I am waiting for my cue to exit. The energy usually gets super stale and there’s this why-am-I-allowing-for-this-to-rot-itself-to-death sort of question going on or that you’re-a-lingerer-and-you’ve-stayed-overlong-in-my-life kind of feeling. Basically, as soon as I feel like I am trapped in a web with a toxicity level managed by that one spider playing puppet-master with more than one mind – that’s when it’s time to go.

This life is a very potently-felt karmic lifetime for me. I feel like I came equipped with the ability and the idealism to get along with anyone and everyone; I actually came equipped with lessons dictating boundary establishment. I certainly can get along with anyone because I feel, believe, and accept that everyone is on their own path. Still, there are certain people who have taught me it is dumb to feel guilty for choosing not be around someone – particularly those that don’t understand how I can possibly believe that everyone is on their own path. The ones that subtly or blatantly suggest that I should be on their path – their path is the right one. Notice the word “should” – a real trigger for me as it is completely ignorant to acknowledging what is. See, my philosophy is ironclad though: I can still quite easily respect and appreciate these very same people for being on that type of path. It just demonstrates to me the very thing that seems to be an issue for them: the whole us-being-on-different-paths thing. Their mind is in the world of ideals; my mind is in the world of reals. It all is what it is, no judgment.

That is how my attraction-to meter works. I am attracted to the real – not the ideal. I’ve had enough experience with the world of ideal to learn that it isn’t as wonderful as it may seem… it certainly isn’t my ideal. The ideal for me is the real. In other words, I don’t get the shiny appeal that is Twilight. There are real vampires in this world – and they have skillfully adapted to feeding off of others life force in order to keep themselves going. I would rather be alone and disconnected than to be around that type of energy because group mind happens all too quickly and easily. And, I don’t want to be a vampire. I don’t want to be at that party. At least in solitude I can thrive out of my own center without any uninvited guests trashing my place.

The unlovables

The unlovables - pic

All I’ve ever felt “good” at in life is loving everything – particularly the “unloveable”. That has gotten me into trouble (FYI: no one thing or person to blame), but what can I say…on some level I like trouble. Maybe because it is comfortable; maybe because I have an egoic pride and confidence when “trouble” comes up because I instinctively and intuitively “know” what to do when it arises; maybe because I am jaded and get bored. Who knows. Who cares. All I ever wanted in life was to love and to be loved. Is that too much to ask?

It may be. It ought not be – but the reality is that many, many people are struggling to get to that point due to other, more survival-oriented tasks: food, water, shelter. Maslow knows what I’m talking about. When the fear of survival kicks in, love is not necessarily the immediate focus. And, even in our “1st world” country with its “1st world problems”, that same mechanism is at work. Clearly. It’s just that our definition of “survival” is in a different form than what that word was probably originally meant to define. Of course, the word “survival” has been around for a long time – but have we really made progress at our roots, at our core? It appears not. It appears as though consumerism and busy-ness and, well, business have morphed the mask of survival – but how far have we really come?

Happiness is easy: just. be. happy. Right? Because it isn’t a projected image of happiness that wins – it is true happiness that not only wins but shines very brightly, very clearly. “1st world” countries may not seem to have the same problems, but “problems” are relative – and the bottom line is, if you’re not happy, free, empowered…you are just that: none of the above. Ironically, being “privileged” offers the perspective of entitled detachment: while we understand and try to show our support and compassion, we are struggling with the same underlying phenomenon – we just so happen to have more material to cover up our issues with. We’ve made blankets, we’ve tried to stay warm and comforted by this earthly beast – we are a land of denial.

Here is what I call the “inner celebrity” – dramatic or otherwise. We want to be perfect. No. We are taught to be perfect. No. We are expected to be perfect. Yes. Or no? Who knows. But then, who feels that? It doesn’t matter what is “truth” or “reality” on an objective scale – that’s not what someone who needs acknowledgement for their personal, individual reality needs to hear. They need to to be understood. They need to be felt. They need compassion. They. Need. Love. How can we get “there”? Even if it is one small baby ant step at a time? We need to stop denying the very things we create. We need to take responsibility, as a community or as communities, or as communities within a larger community (the world). We need to come together and recognize, accept, and love our own humanness – as repulsive, crazy, questionable, disappointing, and/or something-else as it may be. Change our rooted beliefs about reality; change our ultimate reality. It is OK to love and hug the demon(s); they wouldn’t even know what to do with that hug if you meant it.

“It’s difficult to handle as an adult, to see the negativity. It’s easy for people to sit behind a computer screen and tear people down. To be a kid and have to deal with that, to not have the tools really to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not, to not judge yourself by the misconceptions of others or the opinions of others — that’s hard enough to do as an adult, much less as a child.

As you grow up in this business, you have to have a strong sense of self. But when you have so many opinions from the outside world, you don’t really have a chance to develop your sense of self.

It’s very confusing when you’ve been on a pedestal for a really long time, and then that success goes away for some people, or all of a sudden people build you up to tear you down. People don’t come out of the other side of it with a clear head, and I think that’s probably the biggest thing.

Having had it all as a child and growing into an adult, it definitely messes with your mind a little bit. Obviously, having the world watch you make every move brings so much confusion…”

**Check out The Seeker’s Dungeon blog, and all that it contributes to the world of consciousness at http://theseekersdungeon.com/2014/01/30/dungeon-prompts-season-2-week-5-community/

Death’s Masks

We all wear masks. Don’t try to hide it. Don’t try to deny that truth. I know you’re wearing one right now reading this post because some part of you, I know, is dying. And one of your new masks is waiting to be worn for the Halloween party this year. Most of you may be living – 98% to 99%% of you is on top of your game, totally in tune with your own rhythm, completely balanced, at one with yourself and at peace with the world (as crazy as it may be out there). Still, sometimes your birth control fails and new birth awaits. You totally have the choice of abortion – and I am totally pro-choice – but in order to have even the slightest chance at birthing something new, some part of you must be dying.

Death's Masks pic.1The Life/Death/Life cycle has been coming up for me a lot lately, and each time it comes through (whether it be in reading material, meditation, or literal deaths to a body), it shows up very magically – very synchronous or entwined in some sort of synchronicity-filled story that the Universe has composed like a song in D minor. It is all quite lovely, and I have a deep amount of gratitude and respect for this beautiful thing that we call “life”.

Here’s the thing. We all deal with this natural, universal cycle differently, and each of us has our own internal musical rhythm that for some reason others try to harmonize with. Maybe we don’t want them to. Maybe our time signatures are incompatible. Maybe they don’t get the jam. Maybe they can’t carry a tune, are off-pitch and out of line, can’t dance to the beat, and maybe, just maybe we don’t jive, we don’t gel, and the PB&J sandwich is really just a sticky and sloppy mess. Then again, maybe we make beautiful music together – and sandwiches too.

It never really hurts to try to harmonize either way – even if it hurts after trying because country roots never would’ve transformed into something like The Black Keys if we didn’t keep creating and progressing…shape-shifting through the tunnel of Life/Death/Life. Whatever form of creation a person is in tune with ought to, at the very least, be respected. Seriously, whatever form of creation. That guy is a lying liar? Cool, that’s his tune – and it may not jive with yours. That lady is a manipulative bitch? Awesome, she is teaching you that you are not and that you value different things – thank her. That fucktard idiot that just cut you off is not only a selfish asshole but also your boss and you hate him with all of the rage and anger you can muster because he is oblivious to the fact that he devalues not only your work but also your very being on a daily basis? Wonderful! Respect him, that’s all he is probably searching for anyhow – plus, he is showing you the way to a new job where you are both happy and valued. The way is out. Out of the drama. Out of the judgments. Out of the mind and into the heart. The way out is in death – creating space (or at least allowing space) for the things that don’t work for you to die. Whether you choose active surrender or passive surrender is up to you too, but the option is always there for you to choose to let it all die so that you may live again. That’s life, then death, then life again.

Still, I get it: for some, the middle part can be scary. Death – though blanketed by the two pieces of the bread that is life – is a cold, cold place to be. Death is the crappy jam when you wanted jelly on your annoyingly sticky and hard to chew PB&J. And for some, the fear of death itself does not even want to be faced. Perfect – that’s their choice. Because guess what?  It isn’t your choice! That ought to be acknowledged, recognized…understood first and foremost. If the understanding gets lost in translation, if the text doesn’t get sent and/or received, if the projector is incapable of owning their own projections or the skilled transference gets turned into the rabbit hole of countertransference, then there is not a single soul to blame. Truly, all you have to do is be. Be willing to be there, and just be. I’ve been taught this very thing over and over and over again, in school, in experience, in this song and dance with life/death/life:

“Dying is a profound RITE OF PASSAGE”, sometimes mysterious and often filled with changes, suffering, distress and refining realizations for all involved…Therefore, ‘caveat’! Remember you are facilitating another person’s spiritual process. It is not your process. Do not intrude. Do not control. Do not force your own needs and insights. If you do not trust another person’s process, that person will not trust you.” – The Denver Hospice, volunteer handout

So yes, it could take someone an entire lifetime to let go of someone who is literally and/or figuratively beating them to death slowly. Fine. That’s their choice! It could take someone an entire lifetime to let go of beating everyone else up – both literally and figuratively – because they are too stuck in some hurt from the age of 7 to let their anger die. Great. That’s their choice! It could take half of this country to realize that our values are completely fucked, misguided and misplaced, and that everyone is too deluded, naive, asleep, “busy”, heavily sedated, drunk and/or drugged to truly feel their own rhythm and find their soul groove for fears associated with death, dying, letting go and change – but hey! You have your vibe, they have theirs, so what? Go make a PB&J and get into some new music!

Death's Masks pic.2

“Imagine that you are a midwife. You are assisting at someone else’s birth. Do good without show or fuss. Facilitate what is happening. If you take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge.” – The Denver Hospice, volunteer handout

(Top): Reading from Tim Barnes for Marlena McGuigan, 3.16.2013 “Future/Present/Past”. Images courtesy of Mellissae Lucia, Oracle of Initiation Divination Deck, http://www.oracleofinitiation.com/

(Bottom): Image courtesy of moggara12/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


**Check out this man’s AWESOME site: http://theseekersdungeon.com/2013/09/19/dungeon-prompts-week-6-mortality-and-unfinished-business/