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It is 2009. My son, David, is visiting and says, “Mom, you have to play a video game with me.” My boy knows me well and is aware that I missed out on the video game gene, so he cajoles me with, “It’ll be good for you, and, by the way, this game is the coolest thing EVER. Really. You have to play this with me.” How can I resist? It’s summer. We’re hangin’. Sounds like fun. I have no idea my life is about to be turned upside down.

“Portal” (2007, Valve Corporation) is a mind-twisting puzzle game that alters physics and bends reality. You play as an avatar who is stuck in a room with no obvious way out. You are given two portal guns. One gun creates an exit; the other creates a corresponding entrance. For example, you might place one portal in the wall and another in the ceiling. As you enter the first portal, left becomes right, up becomes down, and you fall through the ceiling where you can now see a hidden doorway to “get out of the box.” Puzzle solved!

David puts the controls in my hands. I make it 30 minutes before I feel nauseous and have to stop playing. No worries. A quick nap and I try again, only to land back in bed, stomach churning. David says, “You know, Mom, I think your brain is being reprogrammed.” I’m not proud, but I believe my response involves some sort of finger gesture and eye-rolling.

I really want to finish the game. How hard can it be to surrender my beliefs about reality? Evidently pretty hard, as attempt after attempt reveals, but I push on.

After one particularly challenging bout, I’m laying in the grass trying to settle my heaving stomach. As I lay back, letting the fluffy clouds calm me, I ask my inner wisdom, “What do I need to know here?”

The answer drops in, short and sweet: “Be the portal.” (I have no idea what this means.) “Be the portal, not the player. Don’t try to figure out the puzzle. Be the portal through which the solution comes.”

I’m intrigued, so back to the game I go. I give the controls to my son, focus my awareness inside the portals he creates…and my world settles. We make it to the end of the game! High fives all around.

Basking in the glow of my victory, I wolf down my imaginary Portal Cake and listen to GLaDOS, the computer system nemesis, reminisce with me about all the fun we had playing Portal together:

“Remember when the platform was sliding into the fire pit and I said ‘Goodbye,’ and you were like ‘No way!’ And then I was all, ‘We pretended we were going to murder you.’ That was great.”

Good times.

But, a nagging thought enters. Why did I put myself through this? Was it really so important? I mean, would I actually have to be this Portal thingy?

Well, yes…yes I would. At the time, I had no idea what was at stake, what The Portal actually represented, or how relevant this insight to “be it” would become, but I was about to find out. My soul had just handed me an invitation to leave my limited box behind and learn how to become the portal into my freedom.

Over the next several years, my life went through a comprehensive deconstruction, including the end of a 30-year marriage and the loss of jobs, identities, home and tribe. I spent many nights sucking my paws in seclusion like a wounded animal. What was gone was…GONE. There was no going back to what was before; yet, paradoxically, I did not know how to fill the void. I wanted desperately to DO something. My inner fixer wanted to fix stuff, but every time I forced a fix, I ended up with a lot of “doo doo” and more deconstruction. My frustration levels were epic. And this is when I received a call from a friend back in Wisconsin.

“I just had this really amazing dream about you,” my friend tells me. “Guess what you were? You’ll never guess. Really, you will never ever guess. It is just sooooo cool! ….. You were a PORTAL!”

First, silence, as I ponder this fate-filled statement. I don‘t believe what I‘m hearing. “I was a portal?” (Really? REALLY?)

“Yes! A portal. It was really cool. You were holding this safe space for change and transition. It was amazing. I had to call and tell you.”

In stunned disbelief, I pump her for more information. “How did it work? How do I do this?” (Oh, please tell me how I am supposed to do this!)

After a pause she confesses, “I have no idea!”

So there it was – my timely wake up call reminding me it is time to be this portal of grace into my own freedom. Just…how? Wow.

One day, I am sitting outside, breathing. For a delightful moment, my mind is still, and in the quiet I suddenly feel my cells sparkle like they are singing. I can feel this very alive awareness inside me; it is more than me, but it is me. It is waiting for me to be aware of it. We sit together and feel into each other for quite some time, and then it dawns on me… this alive, vivid, joyful expanse of me is my Portal Self! This is the part of me that has been there and done that, who is aware of all the potentials, and is quantumly connected to them. This is the part of me that is already a master, already integrated, and ready to play the game of life from a completely different perspective. The Master is in the house! In fact, it has been there all along, patiently flowing into my life as I allowed it, re-configuring my patterns of prostitution, martyrdom, and self-sabotage, and guiding me through my inner portals into new expansive potentials.

Painting by Donna Van KeurenAs an artist, I know that creating anything new requires surrender into the mystery. Artists use their wisdom and technical ability to express something that moves through them which cannot be easily defined. When we expand our awareness and allow our divine consciousness to become the Artist in Residence that inspires and re-imagines us, we too will experience the magic of true creativity. This is The Art of Awareness and it is how we liberate ourselves.

Freedom is unlimited creation with total accountability. In my own crazy journey, I’ve discovered there are Four Doors to Freedom representing challenging choice points where we must allow the greater wisdom of our being to inform us and create through us.

Be Aware
The first door to freedom is to dare to be aware. We open a gate of grace when we are willing to expand our awareness beyond the beliefs of the conditioned mind and the realities we currently experience as our truth. This opens us to new potentials.

Let Go
The second door to freedom is to let go of what we know. We open a gate of grace when we release our attachments to the past and love ourselves in the present moment. By forgiving, surrendering, and allowing transformation, we release energy to serve us in a new way.

The third door to freedom is surrendering into the void times after loss. We open a gate of grace when we allow the void to become our quantum chrysalis of re-imagination. As a caterpillar is re-invented by its imaginal cells within its chrysalis, we too must surrender into the sacred emptiness that holds all our potentials and provides the safe space and wisdom for our transmutation, integration and transfiguration.

Be the Portal
The fourth door to freedom is to become the portal for new potentials. We open a gate of grace by consciously choosing the potentials we wish to experience, acting them out as if they were fully realized (which, quantumly, they are), and allowing what comes to us in total trust and acceptance. When we become the portal we enter the still point of consciousness in time and space. We become a conscious creator, collaborating with the AND of ourselves and allowing our mastery to create with and through our human expression.

In recent months, I’ve come to see that freedom is a perception in the present moment. The potential for freedom is always right here, no matter how things appear in 3-D. Freedom is a simultaneous potential and I have the freedom to choose it and be it… or not. When I choose freedom, it is mine. I can feel underneath my life situation into the spaciousness that is growing inside. I can rest there and watch the magic unfold. Chaos is just creation in motion after all!

I see how my life is emerging into a quantum work of art. In simple, small strokes, I’m painting with a palette of presence. I am more fully available to what’s before me, curious and engaged, and give each moment space to breathe, rather than forcing my agenda. I’m relaxing into the mystery of creation, which is giving my life a crystalline quality of wonder.

Donna Van Keuren is a published artist, a musician, an educator, and an intuitive. Through her business, Light the Journey, Donna, and her partner Joe Davinroy, are developing a curriculum and blog on The Art of Awareness: Creating a Liberated Life with Consciousness. Donna can be contacted through her website

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