The Feminine Essence


We are fighters. We may sting, we may bite, we can hunt and we can fight. We are protectors. Our voices are never silenced for long, for miles you can here our song. We are in the soul of every human, every creature. Our culture, our love, our stories can last for generations. Mother Earth is earth, air, fire, and water all the same time. We are fire, we are air, we are water and we are earth. We are the cells in your body and the love in your hearts. We are the fire in your belly and the compassion for your neighbor. You can feel us beat in your chest when you know the truth of all things.


We are nurturers. We are healers. We are lovers and warriors. We are the matriarchal societies fueled by empathy and an urge to protect our species. We are the lifegivers. We birth new generations and new ideas. We are the feminine water that runs through the veins of every human being. You see us in herds of  Elephants, pods of Orcas, and prides of hunting lionesses. Bonds are embraced, nurtured and protected. Our power does not reduce the power of the masculine, it complements it. Our emboldened stance gives human civilizations promise for a more secure future. Our warriors battle the toxic masculine that takes what it wants and rapes our earth and our species.


We are the feminine. We will love you no matter how much you hate us. We stand tall no matter how many times you kick us down. We do not grow bitter because we accept what is and work with our moments. We do not always have the answers. But we know LOVE. We know relationships. We know about the interconnectedness on our planet and between our souls. We know in our hearts what is right, because we have learned to listen mindfully. We are not all women. We are the feminine. We are the creators of joy and passion. We are the idea that grabs hold and whispers in your ear until you give us life. We are a smile or a warm hug. We are the moments of overwhelming gratitude that turn into large flowing tears.

We are not money or greed. We are not Twitter feeds or Facebook posts. We are not isolation, fear or exclusion. We are not anger or hate.

You know us when you feel us.

We are magic. We are love.

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The Madam and the Mistress


What’s next? Her mind asks her seductively

Penelope refuses to give attention to the thought. “No! Focus” she sharply whispers outloud. She’s starring at her computer screen, atleast twenty tabs are open, multiple apps running and several desktops on her MacBook. “What was I doing?” She thought. “Oh right, homework.”

Nothing is happening fast enough. Look at Etsy or Pinterest. The sultry voice now a little incredulous.

“I know. I need to put more on my calendar, to stay on track” she thinks to pacify the voice that is so rudely interrupting her unproductive work. Penelope opens her calendar, records assignment due dates and milestones, texts a few friends, makes some plans and feels more on track. But it’s been two hours. Instead of crossing things off her list, she’s put more on it.

Idiot. That’s why you never get anything done. Planning. Planning. Planning. Always dreaming, rarely doing. Stupid girl. You’ll fail. You always do. 

The mistress hands the mic to a Madam in a geisha house. As if trying to keep a new girl in line.

“No! I hear you. I don’t believe you. I can do this. I can do everything I’m trying to do. My homework, my business, my life. I can do this.” 

Sure you can. Keep telling yourself that. Afterall you’re getting so much done right now. The mistress injects her patronizing words through Penelopes grey matter like a parasitic worm, overpowering any positive  affirmations she can muster.

She has some lunch. Takes a nap. Takes a walk. Calls a couple friends. The day passes. Nothing on her list done. A week goes by. Each day, a similar pattern.

“Why did I think I could do all this. I’m so far behind…on everything. Dammit. I’m failing at everything.” Penelope begins to cry.

I told you. You’re worthless. Insignificant. Going nowhere. You should be more focused at work. You should do that favor for your mom. You aren’t spending anytime with people that need you. Terrible employee. Terrible friend. 

Now she’s in a full blown sob…an ugly cry. 

Nothing will ever be happen fast enough because you aren’t good enough. Always making it about you.

The voice is no longer the sultry mistress trying to seduce her into narrow alleys of guilt. Nor is she the Madame, whipping her into submission, to succumb to the needs of others. Now it’s her ex husbands voice, every lost friend and every critic she’s ever encountered. 

The tears stop flowing. The hyperventilating ceases. A stronger voice, a nurturing voice, her own voice and only hers…

I love you. I’ve got your back. You’re right where you’re supposed to be. Don’t let the Madam or the Mistress lead you astray. They get a tad jealous. Their master is Ego.

She feels a warmth envelope her like a nurturing hug from a parent. Penelope laughs out loud at the rediculous mess of her own brain.

“Oh hell no. It’s never been all about me. And when it is about me then I really need it. I know you- you’re my biggest critic. I’m better than you. I don’t need to cross things off my list to know I’m worthy. I just am. I will fail at some of these things. Then I’ll get up and do it again. Better. Stronger. 

Penelope didn’t turn in the paper. She cancelled every social engagement for the next week. She changed some big plans that no longer fit. She went to yoga. She danced to music. She did everything not on the damn list. And she’s didn’t feel bad, she didn’t feel guilty. She just felt joy. For several days…no past, or future. Only the present.

We all know this battle. The battle where we are are only fighting ourselves. When we start a track but our priorities change, or our lives shift. Or we simply need to let ourselves fail. Sometimes it can feel like failing is not an option, but failing is just as important as succeeding. Sometimes we need to let go, rip up the to do list, throw it in the air and let pieces fall where they may. ūüíú

 

I Love You, For So Many Reasons…


I love you because you are always there for me. I love you because you know exactly when I need to cry, feel anger, release anger, emit gratitude, and laugh until my face hurts. I love you because you always have the answers, even when I argue with your hearfelt logic. I love you because you love me with makeup and without, with walls up and armor on, or in complete vulnernability.

I love the compassion in your heart and the genuineness of your smile. Your charming wit, unyielding loyalty and curious nature encourages me to always strive to be my best self. The depth of your soul pushes me to explore things in myself that once frightened me. Your ability to rise strong when you have fallen in the muddy swamp shows me that adversity leads to growth and gratitude.

You have given me vision when I couldn’t see and an almost deafening silence when I needed solitude. You’ve given me joy when I’ve been in pain, connection when I felt alone and peace when I was overwhelmed. You’ve always shown me love.

I love because you I can be myself around you, I don’t need to compartmentalize and keep out any part of myself. I love you because you see me, you hear me, you understand me, you listen to me. I love you because you don’t judge me when I screw up and you cheer me on when I do what’s right. I love you because you speak softly, gently and always with deep truth.

I love you because you are me. The part of my soul that always knows right where I’m supposed to be. The calm peaceful part that always hold light, love and truth. I love you, myself. Thank you for walking with me always.

The Green Study’s “Positively Happy Nice Story” Contest: Honorable Mention

Beautiful words from an intelligent, inspiring Doctor…

The Green Study

An Honorable Mention goes to Cathy over at Healing Through Connection. Her essay ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt Give Up!‚ÄĚ made me think about caregivers in any capacity and how important it is to reconnect with joy on a regular basis in order to continue caring for others.

She was sent a Green Study Coffee Mug, a unnecessary Minnesota postcard and I donated $25 to the American Red Cross on her behalf.

Don’t Give Up!

By Catherine Cheng, MD at Healing Through Connection

We could not have planned a more uplifting conclusion to our workshop if we tried.

canstockphoto4619305Eileen and Liz, my rock star colleagues from New Mexico and I, presented a seminar on institutional strategies for physician well-being at the International Conference on Physician Health last month.  The two of them have done this for a while.  They generously invited me to participate this time, as we had collaborated on a Grand…

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Me After Him

You were my healer, my teacher, my best friend, my soul mate. I couldn’t fathom my life without you, let alone survive it without you. You were my world, my everything, nothing was ever too scary with you in my life. Then, in what seemed like a moment of torrential misery I watched you turn into my nightmare. How could this be happening?? Everything was great. Who are you?? Where’s my friend?? Gone. My friend was gone, lost in fear, denial and anger, never to return as the man I knew. 

Alone. Alone with my internal storm of emotions, bubbling with toxic sea creatures encouraging me to give up, let the pain sink in. Let it become me. Drowning in pain. So much pain. Give in. “No one is here to save you anymore”, they whisper while their tentacles try to take me over. “It was only a matter of time, he finally knew there was someone better out there than you” the creatures snarled confidently. My limbs are limp, my resolve to keep treading water is diminishing and letting go is starting to sound peaceful. “He was your everything, now that he is gone, you have nothing. You ARE nothing.”  They seem almost gleeful in their insults, but I know they’re right. I’m powerless against all of this, there’s too many of them and they seem to keep stinging my abdomen, weakening my core every way they can. I give up and I start to sink with all their weight hanging on me. 

My feet hit the sandy bottom. “That wasn’t far” I think to myself. Then I notice the creatures are swimming away. Was this a game to them?? It almost seems like they were feeding off of my pain. I’m running out of breath, I have to get to the surface. I push off from the bottom and voraciously breathe in the crisp morning air. 

I awake to find the sun is rising with a breathtaking orange and blue glow. The night is drifting away taking some dark emotion with it to make way for a brand new day. I feel relief. Another day down. My eyes are too swollen to see anyone today, but that’s what sunglasses are for. And ice packs. I can do this, I quietly think to myself. People don’t actually die from heartbreak. Maybe they do. I have to do something else. Something I wouldn’t have done when we were together. A personal growth institute, I need to go and start a new journey.

You were my healer, my teacher, my best friend, my soul mate. I couldn’t fathom my life without you, let alone survive it without you. You were my world, my everything, nothing was ever too scary with you in my life. Then, in one swift motion, our time was up and you were gone. I loved every moment, every memory, every argument and every laugh. For a while, I thought I might actually die. I didn’t know who I was without you. But I do now. Every now and then your calm advice helps me power through something, but mostly it’s me. My own voice. Iam my own guide now. My own hero. My own goddess. My own warrior. Thank you for teaching me how to live without you. Now I can experience the love I want and not the love I need. I have all I need as Iam, and I couldn’t have found that without you moving out of the way. ūüíúūüíĖ

3 Ways to Create Your Own Joy

I’ll be happy when…I can make more money, I can move out of here, I lose weight, I find someone to love me…

I bet you know that voice. I know I do. My friends know it. My coworkers know it. That little voice that creeps in to manage fear, anxiety or depression. It’s there to give you hope, and administer a dose of Dopamine into your brain. Kelly Mcgonigal is a Standford Psychologist, and author of several books, she points out how when we give ourselves hope, the bigger the dream, the bigger the dopamine hit. 

But this voice is usually in response to “Iam not good enough, I’ll never be good enough, what was I thinking?!” Hope can combat stress and pain. The promise to change yourself has an immediate feel good factor, it also can feel devastating if you make grandiose plans and don’t follow through. 


3 Ways To Find Joy

These are ways that have worked for myself and my clients in creating lasting joy: 

1. Be present-acknowledge the truth and create a sense of calm.

  • When you revel in the moment your activating a part of your brain that numbs fear. Stop for 30sec or 5min and acknowledge the truths around you–-Iam sitting down. I’m wearing a green shirt. I am in control of how I feel at this very moment. You know your truths when you feel calm by thinking about them. This is mindfulness and the act of being present in any moment.

2. Express gratitude

  • Once you are able to articulate your truths and practice presence of mind you can begin the next step, gratitude. Understand that things are as they are in this present moment. You can wish and hope and dream they were different, but they simply are as they are. There are always parts of a day, situation or person that we can appreciate. Find those. UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb found that when we express gratitude, our brains release Dopamine, giving a similar effect as the drug Wellbutrin.

3. Recognize your gifts and give them away

  • When find something that you love so much you can do it happily for hours, days, weeks, or years (without being paid) you have found your gift. 
  • This doesn’t mean you should feel guilty or shame yourself for wanting to earn a living doing what you love. YOU SHOULD. But, when you can also provide yourself with opportunities to give it away, do that too. It will help you feel joyful and empowered while encouraging others to find their particular gifts as well.

Love and Compassion WINS. Fear and Hate LOSES.

 

Hate is a quick and easy, cheap shot. We see it in the news with incidents like Sandy Hook or the nightclub in Orlando. Do you think those shooters were happy? Do you think they felt whole and lived a balanced life? These events are symptoms of a deeper disease in our culture. How do we stop these kinds of atrocities from strangling the love and life out of our communities? Is it with gun control? Is it immigration?

No.

We see hate on a personal level when we lose a friend and never speak to them again. Maybe it’s our choice, maybe it’s theirs. We see hate when a partner cheats on us with no remorse. We see hate with murder, rape and lack of forgiveness. It comes in many forms. And it’s not just in America, it’s alive and well in plenty westernized countries.

MLK quote

If you go to the doctor with a painfully swollen lymph node…

Would it be better for the doctor to give you pain meds and tell you to not eat anything that may increase inflammation OR would it better if they run a bunch of tests to diagnose before they treat? After all, it may be cancer. One treats the symptom and one looks for a cure to the underlying problem.

Hate is our societies’ swollen lymph node while¬†mental illness, disconnection, discontent, sorrow and resentment are our cancer. Fear¬†is our cancer.¬†Fear of what we don’t understand, fear of difference. As a society we are more disconnected, more intolerant, more competitive, more judgemental, more resentful, more angry, more divided and more medicated. Why? Maybe because there are more people, because greed has become accepted as “success” and everything is more expensive while wages haven’t changed. Maybe it’s healthcare. Maybe it’s gun control. There are a million reasons that we have become as we are. The truth is we have forgotten what LOVE is. Not romantic love but true love. The truest love is acceptance and forgiveness. It’s saying “hi” to your neighbor with a genuine smile on your face when they always seem annoyed. It’s understanding that the waiter who gave you bad service may be going through¬†a really shitty day divorce. It may be offering to help someone when you have nothing to give but a hug and a listening ear.

Acceptance

When we accept someone for who they are, we fully see them. When we accept someone, rather than judge them, we are no longer victims of our own emotions. We are simply allowing ourselves to see what we see. It’s up to each of us to decide what we want and don’t want in our lives. Just because we accept who they are doesn’t mean we need to practice the same lifestyle. It simply means we aren’t judging theirs. When we practice acceptance, without judgement, we begin to accept more of ourselves. As we practice acceptance we become more tolerant of things we may disagree with, more authentic and honest about who we are and less hateful. It’s the foundation for forgiveness.

Forgiveness

You can only forgive when you have accepted something as it is. Forgiveness is acceptance and ownership of a judgement you’ve made. It’s acceptance of your own feelings about a specific event and choosing to let it go. It has nothing to do with telling someone else what they did was right or good. You can forgive without thinking something was right. It has to do with acknowledging your pain or hatred and setting it free. When you’re free from anger, resentment and hate you can be more open to LOVE.

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. ~Buddha

Whole-hearted

If you look at whole-hearted families, communities, organizations and countries you will find genuine happiness and tolerance with different lifestyles and religions. They foster an environment of acceptance, authenticity, ownership, respect, connection with others and embrace love over hate. The cure for hate is love.

Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther Kind Jr, Mother Theresa are classic examples of change makers that chose love over hate. That faced criticism, violence, pain and suffering with an attitude of acceptance and forgiveness. These are some of the most notable examples of strength and bravery. Why? Because no matter what happened, they chose love over hate. Conquered fear is the birthplace of courage.

Today you can find this type of courage in researchers, authors, musicians and politicians. But hate is more popular, more prevalent, more accepted and easier. These people openly speak about fear and shame versus love and connection.¬†Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, India Arie, Marianne Williamson, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Shonda Rhimes and Amanda Palmer. Are a few that speak up for love, they make connection, truth and authenticity a priority. They don’t say what people want to hear, that say what they feel is right, with love, gratitude, acceptance and forgiveness.

Change Makers

Our culture and society doesn’t shift because politicians change laws. Shift happens when we accept that the 15yr old girl feels more like a boy than a girl, so we call her Sam rather than Samantha and allow him to use whichever damn bathroom he wants. It happens when we say hello and smile to the woman wearing a hijab without assuming she’s a terrorist. Or we tell someone we love, that while we aren’t ok with something they did, we don’t think they are a bad person. Change happens when parents ask their teenage daughters about a breakup and listen, even though they worked all day and may think it pales in comparison to their day. It happens when a father tells his son that he’s sorry he yelled at him but he was worried he might get hurt. It happens when a mother explains to her child why being a bully creates shame rather than punishing her without teaching her what is right.

It starts in our small circles.¬†It’s saying “thank you¬†for being clear” to someone who respectfully asked you to do or NOT to do something. It’s asking “what do you mean by that?” when someone is being¬†passive aggressive. It’s sending your mother flowers on mothers day even though you’re pissed¬†at her. You can love people AND dislike their behavior. You can love people AND have boundaries. You can wholeheartedly and courageously LOVE with hopeless abandon rather than ignorantly and fearfully embrace hatred. Hatred is our disease. Courageous love is our cure.

We must BE the change we wish to see in the world. ~Ghandi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find The Light By Embracing The Darkness

Shadow

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will think of it as fate. ~Carl Jung

That doesn’t mean become Dexter. It means you cannot fully appreciate the boundless energy of the light until you have explored the depths of your soul.

The famous psychotherapist Carl Jung explained it as the shadow self or shadow side, the parts of ourselves that we deny. These are the dark corners in our minds, much like the scary closets when we were kids and the lights were out. If there was a nightlight it just wasn’t as scary, unless you had one of those damn Teddy Ruxpin’s with low¬†batteries, then we¬†were sure we¬†were going to die. But eventually you muster the guts to tell mom and she doesn’t think you’re crazy, she just chuckles and tells you the batteries are low. Whew. Close call.

Brene-brown-quote-432x195

 

Brene-Brown-Quote-Vulnerability

The spots we judge are usually the source of our limiting beliefs. The places that, when triggered, drive many to go for a drink, a cigarette or harder drugs. The thoughts that make us want to numb are the thoughts that stop us from embracing our light. If we want to reach our potential, and our goals, fear and judgement must be faced.

This has been a year of cleansing for me. I had allowed a circle of toxicity to creep up on me and swallow me up, because deep down I had some rotting grief leftover from a divorce 3 years ago. I thought I was past it, but I was simply in the eye of the storm. I was vulnerable and allowed a victim, deal-with-it-because-this-is-how-it-is mindset take over my snowglobe vision that anything was possible. Anything IS possible, ALWAYS. Change is scary… it’s also inevitable, exciting and invigorating. It’s all in how you choose to look at it. The glass is not half empty or half full, it’s both. People are the same way. We have good behaviors and bad behaviors. Yin and yang. We are always trying to find our balance.

This is my process for swimming through the ocean of emotion in order to get to the Island of Utopia:

  1. Self Awareness- Recognize your inner critic. It likes to disguise itself as the “voice of reality” when really it’s purpose is to create shame, to keep you safe from failure.
  2. Write it down- Record the guttural words of pain, sorrow or despair in all its glory. No more than 30min of writing.
  3. Name it!  Create a name for your inner critic. Personally I just call mine shame for clarity.
  4. Read the words you wrote outloud.
  5. Cry it out if necessary.”I hear you shame, you’re welcome to your opinions and you can ride in the car but you do NOT get to drive”.
  6. Immediately watch something or engage in something that makes you laugh. Alternatively, you could dance it out. The point is to do something completely different and get out of your head. Comedy works well. ‚ėļÔłŹ
  7. Let someone know. Have someone you can call when you open something up that you need to verbally process. For some people this may be a Therapist or Psychiatrist. 

These are just tips for getting in touch with your judgements and darker parts that you like to pretend don’t exist. We all have those spots and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. ‚ėļÔłŹ Let me know what you think of these! ūüíú

Real Women Don’t Have Curves…

Or maybe they do, but it certainly, one hundred percent, undeniably, does not define a real woman.

Real women have Badassery.

I recently read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes, which is mainly – in a very oversimplified kind of way – about being open to change and finding where you are happiest.¬†As a highly successful entrepreneur and writer, she reminds the reader¬†of something exceedingly important that many of us women in western culture forget…it’s incredibly powerful to be vulnerable. Similar to Shonda, I live in Califonia, where the weather is beautiful and so are the people. Everyone seems to regularly attend yoga, do crossfit and be training for marathons or tough mudders. I wear a size 16, and while I can do many of those activities and consider myself pretty, the fact is, I’m not as noticed as the active size 2 woman. I’m just not. We have an obsession in California with beauty and the rise of stars like Melissa Mcarthy and Adele seem to bring back statements like “big and beautiful” or “real women have curves”. The truth is, thick or thin, our shapes or looks shouldn’t be defining who we are. Our character should define who we are.

The Badass Lady

(You will find links to badass ladies in this paragraph)

She¬†may have curves or she¬†may be curveless. She¬†may be the overweight woman in yoga class or the perfectly fit¬†woman in line at the grocery store. She may be neither. She may be this mother, or this one. She may run a company. She may be a doctor. She may be a lesbian. She may be happily single and childless. She may be married. She may be divorced. She may be full of hearty advice.¬†She may be Furiously Happy, yet, depressed. She may be you. A¬†real woman is not defined by what she looks like, ever. She is defined by her level of integrity. Above all else, she is authentic and vulnerable, as often as possible, because she’s still human.

authenticity                                         integrity

A real woman will tell you when you’re wrong, but with compassion. She will admit when she has made a mistake.¬†A real woman will have boundaries, she knows herself well enough to be clear on what she’s okay with and what she’s not. A real woman will stand up for what’s important to her with confidence, grace and tact. She will not shrink or puff up, but stand tall and strong in the face of adversity. A real woman loves with her whole heart. She gives only what she is comfortable giving and not an ounce more, yet she is more generous than most and never¬†resentful. Well, maybe sometimes… sometimes, she’s resentful. But she knows¬†she is in charge of feeling that way, or not. She takes ownership of her feelings and her behavior. A real woman isn’t perfect, she’s human.

A real woman is vulnerable

A real woman is clear about who she is. Her healthy boundaries help her to decide if you belong in her life, or not. Her loyalty runs deep, but she is not a doormat. She won’t give you guilt trips. Well, maybe sometimes… sometimes, she¬†gives guilt trips. After all, she’s human and perfectly imperfect. She asks for what she wants, understanding that you are just as capable of saying no as she has learned to be. A real woman won’t keep you in her life because she’s afraid of being alone. She will nurture a¬†friendship or relationship because she cares, deeply, and¬†values the connection she has with you.

I once saw a girlfriend build a trailer to attach to her Honda Civic so she could move her bed and dresser 300 miles away. All because her mother asked her if she was going to ask her ex boyfriend. Badassery.

Another girlfriend doesn’t own a car but wanted to see one of her closest friends graduate 600 miles away. She took a bus, spent the night and then took the bus back the next day. Badassery.

I recently had a friend ask for help during an emotional breakdown. I’ve known her 9 years and she has never been that vulnerable. I was with her in two hours and have checked in almost every day this week. That’s the friend I am and that’s MY¬†badassery.

I have had an incredible amount of badassery in my life. Women that have stood by my side, told me when I was wrong, applauded my accomplishments and listened to my hardships. They have been there when others have judged me, they have called me to the mat when everyone else was intimidated. They have come in every package. Old, young, black, white, heavy, thin, gorgeous, average, straight and lesbian. Some were curvy, some weren’t. Some were¬†gear heads and some were¬†girly girls. It didn’t matter.

They are badasses and that supersedes any superficial quality that our society values and objectifies.

When were you a badass recently?

(Men have badassery too, that is a different post ūüôā )

Memento Mori

vanitas
Vanitas Still Life, Pieter Claesz, 1630, Baroque period

Memento Mori is latin for “remember death”. Commonly used in art and literature during 17th century’s Dutch Golden Age ( Baroque period), it was to remind us that life is short and we all, eventually, die. Death is inevitable. It may sound a tad morbid, but I take it as a reminder to be present, because this moment is fleeting.

On this Memorial Day, I’m paying my respects to the parts of myself that have died the last couple years, the loss I’ve experienced and the grief I have survived. Divorce, death, ending friendships, family members addictions, infidelity. You name it. More often than not I am grateful for what I do have, but today, I’m pensive. Many, many things have changed and if I didn’t remind myself from time to time that life is short I may not appreciate things quite as much as I do. Most people are out celebrating an extended weekend¬†enjoying¬†a bit of a respite from the grind of work, kids, errands, life, etc. I’m at a friends, by the beach, acknowledging how far I’ve come, how I’ve changed and who I’ve become. The day is not about the sadness of death but moving, ever so slightly, from mourning to acceptance of times gone by.

A resolution to change…

I began this year wanting to challenge old stories and old belief systems that no longer served me. I wanted to surround myself with people who wanted to do the same. Subsequently, I was called to the mat. Every day I was challenged more and more to pick my battles, react to conflict with poise, fall on my face and rise back up. Sometimes I didn’t rise back up, sometimes I stayed on my knees. Sometimes I threw stones. Sometimes I begged someone to help me stand. Sometimes I convinced myself that being face down was fine and it just gave me a new perspective. Which is true, I have many new perspectives.

Shift is painful

Especially when your willing to let people walk out of your life in order to be true to yourself and your values. It requires new boundaries. It requires strength. It requires self love and shit ton of resilience. Some were unable to change with me. I had to choose them or my own transformation. It was me or them, and considering I spend more time with me than anyone else I’ve chosen me.¬†In doing so, I’ve had to release alot of poison and toxicity, both in myself and in my relationships. Toxicity that was mostly present because boundaries were blurred, resentment set in and I felt taken advantage of. Only some¬†were willing brave the journey with me.

Chocolate, carbs, hiking, the ocean, Jimmy Fallon lip-syncing battles, a giant trampoline, music, friends, consistently inappropriate humor, gratitude, ¬†silky chickens and soooo much processing– these¬†have been my coping mechanisms. It’s been fun. It’s been heartbreaking. It’s been hilarious. It’s been torrentially devastating. It’s been authentic.

When we live, always aware of our inevitable expiration, we look at life through a different lens. Death is loss. Loss is impermanence. Nothing is ever permanent. Therefore, live as though this is the only moment you have, because it is, and it is absolutely, positively, incredibly beautiful.

Memento Mori

 

 

Embracing Self-Love and Boundaries

I love all of me: My huge feet, my eclectic style, my writing, my playlists, my sometimes shitty artwork, the books I read, the books I keep saying I’ll read, my chapstick, my sometimes-too-often-ice cream, my current healthy eating, my coffee, my tea, my flu symptoms that encouraged me to write, my scarf I never wear accept when I’m playing dress up in front of the mirror, my lovely new daydream mug (score!) that I found for a $1 at Goodwill, and all my change that-is-oh-so-precious-because-I’m-oh-so-damn-broke. I almost through one of my cats in but he wouldn’t stay still and I don’t exactly love either of them right now…tolerate, that’s a much better word for them.

Self-love  vs  Self-absorbed 

Self-love is not the same as¬†self-absorbed. Self-love changes the inner dialogue from “I’m such an idiot” to “ok, it would probably be wise¬†not to do that again, but live and learn”. It’s about changing¬†negative self talk to¬†counseling yourself with the utmost care and respect. No one can ever be your best friend more than you are, no one will ever know your whole story better than you do¬†and no one will ever pick you up like you can. So, loving yourself is not about me, me, me or¬†degrading yourself to accomplish goals, it’s about treating yourself with compassion, and learning to love who you are so that you can give that love away to others. You cannot love anyone else wholeheartedly until you have mastered loving yourself, especially when you screw up.

How you motivate and counsel yourself will be how you motivate and counsel those you love.

Boundaries with yourself

Sometimes we need to light a fire under ourselves, like those of us are procrastinators. Ahem. Personally I need to Drill Sergeant myself sometimes. That is not a license¬†to bully ourselves. It’s never good to tell ourselves we are bad people, unless you are, but even then the true bad ones-like sociopaths- don’t exactly have negative self talk, they’re pretty grandiose…So, where was I? Oh, boundaries… Set a boundary with yourself to begin recognizing negative self talk rather than allowing it to run amok. Most of our¬†emotions, including an amygdala hijack, can be traced back to thoughts and beliefs we are telling ourselves so it’s healthy to become self aware.

Boundaries with co-workers or roomates

Everyone desperately needs boundaries and we do ourselves a disservice when we aren’t clear with other people about what’s okay and what isn’t. Let’s say you usually let a co-worker borrow just about anything on your desk but now they have stopped asking and go into your drawers whenever they need something. If it bothers you then this would be a moment to set a boundary. You could say “I’m¬†usually fine with you using things but I would like you to ask and not go through my drawers” politely the first time you notice it happening. If you wait and say it weeks or months later you may end up saying it in a passive aggressive way because you feel walked on. This will take some time getting used to but the more you do it the more clear your boundaries will become. It will help you to not harbor any resentment and your co-workers will respect your honesty. But it will take time if you aren’t already doing this. Be prepared for them to begin setting their own boundaries as well.

The same goes for roommates, but because it’s also where you relax¬†you may need to pick your battles more carefully. Maybe they took your clothes out of the washer to do a load of laundry and it really aggravated you. If you left it in there for a couple days, well then, that’s your bad. If, on the other hand, they did it the moment it finished it may be worth a conversation like this “I completely understand that sometimes we need to get laundry done right away,¬†would it be helpful to have designated laundry times for each of us?”.

If you don’t typically set boundaries, expect pushback.

Some people will simply never take responsibility for their behavior. That’s ok. They don’t have to. Some people will challenge you just for the sake of challenging you. Sometimes they will think your boundary is “rude”. You always get to decide what behaviors and responses are ok with you. When you set boundaries for how you want to be treated you will be happier and have very little resentment.

It’s totally NOT easy

Boundaries are difficult to set, especially when people are not used to you setting them or when YOU aren’t used to setting them. Just remember, boundaries are very healthy.

Boundaries with family and partners

We build many, many, many you have unspoken contracts with the people we care about. The most common is between partners¬†that you will be connected to someone no matter their behavior. When you voice what’s ok and what’s not ok, with LOVE and grounded confidence,¬†you will begin to decipher who really belongs in our life. You will lose friends, you will become estranged from some family members.The ones that stay will help you grow. When you set appropriate boundaries with family and significant others your message will become clear “this is how I want to be treated, this is how I will treat you back. If that’s not okay with you then I wont make space for you in my life”. You will begin to hold one another to higher standards, love bigger and forgive more often. This is the area that will flourish the most when you marry self-love with firm boundaries. Your circle will likely change, maybe a little, maybe alot. When you set boundaries through the lens of love and compassion you realize it’s ok if some people go, because you may just need to let them go in order to grow.

The Metamorphosis of Bella and Kane

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Bella
Blue moth
Kane

“There’s no telling how it will affect you. Just know that it will.” ~unknown

An allegory about love, loss and transformation.

Bella

Bella was a beautiful young Kenna caterpillar . She was bright purple with teal spots, but beauty is subjective, and in the Kenna community, you were only beautiful if you were green. The brighter the green, the prettier. She was soft and kind, but not considered attractive.  She would see the beauty in everyone she met which made her vulnerable to hardship. She would be lied to, taken advantage of and remained naive to the games caterpillars played. Insecurities ran high with her. She wanted connection.

Kane

She found a dark, fuzzy Tomeo caterpillar that understood, for he was the same. Kane¬†left the Tomeo’s¬†because that’s what they all did, but he still yearned for connection. He was wiser to the world, being solitary he had to learn who to trust more carefully. A bird may try to lure you to its nest, a spider to its web, another caterpillar may be poisonous if you touch them. He knew the latter all too well because the tips of his hairs were poisonous to some species if he was startled. He became her best friend, her teacher, her mentor, her life partner. She didn’t know if she was immune to his poison but since Kane was always calm with her it didn’t seem to matter.

Their Shared Cocoon

They built a cocoon, ever so carefully. It took longer than others because they¬†were building it for both of them. It was strong and flexible, safe and comforting. Through the building of both their cocoon and their friendship, she learned to be more careful, more selective. Both metaphorically with who she trusted and in the building materials, because it would need to hold both their weight. Kane’s coat was soft and he now had more control over the poison on it, being able to protect them both from predators. He learned to see more beauty and have more faith that good things could happen.

When it was finished, they crawled inside, excited to soon fly together. For the next two weeks, their bodies liquified in order to take on its new shape. They would still become what they were meant to be but they would take on parts of each other since they were transforming in the same cocoon. Typically, they would have done this independently, but¬†Bella didn’t know how to build one and Kane was afraid of predators in order to gather supplies. They needed each other. They were connected.

The Transformation

They emerged a month later. It took longer since both of them transformed together. There was more for mother nature to sort through in order for everything to be as she planned. The correct wings had to be placed with Kane and correct coloring with Bella, for this, was pre-determined.

Bella became a beautiful magenta butterfly, built for basking on bright flowers in the sunshine. She felt confident in her new self and eagerly awaited Kane. Kane emerged dark and fuzzy with blue iridescence…but…he was moth, built to flutter through the darkness of nightfall. Their hearts sank. They knew it meant their lives were headed in different directions. They tried to learn to fly together anyway, but either way, one was left wanting. Kane began flying at night and Bella bathed in sunlight while mustering up the courage to practice more. She was afraid to practice without Kane. In the following days Kane found a female moth that could show him the ropes and Bella knew it was time to find other butterflies that could do the same for her. The sinking feeling was back and heavy like an anchor.

Mother Earth 

As Bella cried from¬†the treetops for Kane she heard Mother Earth whisper gently from the willow tree “my sweet girl, all is right in your plan. I know you miss your friend, but you have different destinies. You will find another that enjoys the sun as much as you.”

For a moment, Bella felt the folds of Mother Earth’s great nurturing power soothe her pain. She breathed in the crisp mountain air. The relief was short lived.

“But Mother! Why couldn’t you make us the same! Since we took on parts of each other, why aren’t we both half moth and half butterfly??” she cried. “My dear, you were made as you were meant to be.¬†Kane’s transformation gave you safety and healed your insecurities. Your transformation gave him optimism. Courage is now a part of your genetics. Only now can you truly fly.”

She cried instead. She didn’t want to fly without Kane. What if she fell and got hurt? What if no one accepted her, just like before? What if she was alone forever? The questions were endless. The tears were big. Then she slipped off a branch and had to flap her wings or come face to face with the forest floor.

So fly she did. On her own, because she had to. She felt the courage Mother Earth spoke of, traveling through her veins like the warmth of a mothers love. With the wind carrying her she began to enjoy the vantage points and everything she was able to see in the daylight. The more she flew, the less she thought of Kane and the more she was able to appreciate the lessons she had learned from him. Some days she missed his company more than other days. She missed him when she made a new friend or flew by a spot where they shared a good laugh. She knew he was always a part of her and she would always be a part of him, it was their genetics. She felt connection which gave her the confidence to be who she needed to be.

Sometimes connection to another person affects¬†us in such a profound way that we are never the same again. There will be good and bad parts. Some stay and some are meant to move on.¬†We experience it, we learn from it and we grow from it. When we allow our perception of the past to be balanced, accepting the good and bad memories, we give ourselves permission to move forward. It’s ok to be sad then happy, angry then sad, then happy again. When our connections to people shift it can be difficult to accept. Especially with love. It’s hard to let go of what was when everything seemed right. But things change. The world changes. People grow together and people grow apart. Connection is valuable. We learn many of life’s most important lessons through connection. Life is more emotionally charged because of it. Connection makes us feel alive. Connection makes us human.

Friendship, love and expectations 


Strangers

I’ve been trying to make the most of my common interactions with people. Whether it’s striking up a conversation with the rental car person that picked me up when my car was in the shop or just smiling at a cashier and making them laugh. I find those moments tend to have the least expectations attached. You get a snapshot of who that person is and a brief moment to bring joy into their life. Most of us don’t take the time to connect when we are running errands or getting things done.

But what if we did take the time? What if we saw every interaction as a valuable moment for connection? What if we looked at each other as unique creatures brimming with different strengths, different experiences and different lessons? The world we be a whole lot more interesting. 

Acquaintances and Casual Friends 

These are the friends you consistently share one (or several) common interest(s) with. Maybe you like to hike together. Maybe you’re both into a particular subject. Maybe you can always laugh with each other. They might be your neighbors or co-workers. You see each other enough to be more than strangers but not close enough to know each other’s whole story. Maybe you choose to keep it there and maybe they do. Either way, they add variety and richness to you life that you wouldn’t have without them.

Family & True friends

Family is is not always what we are born into. These are the people that know you. I mean, really know you. The ones that know your story, that honor who you are. The ones that raise the bar, that hold you accountable, love you unconditionally and you can call 6 months or a year later to simply pick up where you left off. These people are your tribe. Time stands still with them. You have things in common but more importantly you understand each other’s souls. You know what’s important and how to connect with one another. You can laugh or talk about your day, it doesn’t matter because there is an unspoken commitment that you are there, each of you, always, in the background. You’ve always been wholeheartedly connected. You’re not afraid of losing them because you know you have a bond. They’re family.

Love is in gratitude. Be grateful for your tribe. Be grateful for your acquaintances. Be grateful that you have connection. ūüíĖ

Sometimes Love Means Letting Go

Brene Brown Quote about Integrity

As an ode to a beautifully inspiring post¬†by Dr. Andrea Dinardo I have borrowed a¬†phrase…

Stand your Sacred Ground.

Stand your Sacred Ground.

Stand your Sacred Ground.

My intuition kept whispering to me…

You’ve had this argument before.

You know this is fear and resistance speaking from the other end of this conversation.

Walk away before you add fuel.

So I did. I have before, but this time was different. This time, rather than defending my integrity, and making my points, I spoke my truths and walked away with my integrity in tact. I simply gave¬†them a hug¬†and stopped¬†giving a reason to resist. It was not the comfortable choice, it won’t be the easy choice to live with right now. But it will be the choice I will be proud of later.

I’m fiercely loyal and passionately curious about the human condition. I have a strong circle of relationships around me that share those qualities and usually join me in the darkest vulnerable places in order to see the bright meadow on the other side. I’m so very grateful to have my tribe. Then there are the relationships that no matter what you do it’s never enough, or it’s too much. You drift apart. I always try to real it back in, be more attentive, more honest, more curious, more loving. That has always done well for me. Not because it works, but because sometimes it doesn’t . For me,¬†the greatest emotional pain lies in¬†letting go of people.¬†Not just any people. The ones that know me. The ones I’ve laughed with, struggled with, cried with, shared stories and experiences with.

My fear bellowed from the depths…

Maybe they never really knew me.

Maybe they did but didn’t want to anymore.

Maybe it was me.

But my herculean spirit was stronger…

Stand your Sacred Ground.

Know your truth.

Trust your light.

For many of us, the brave road is to fight through something, to work through it. I value that. Through conflict and struggle our cards are on the table and our warrior inside revealed. We learn what we’re made of, where to set boundaries and when to push through difficulties.¬†But other times, we learn when we’re fighting a losing battle. When we have¬†to love ourselves and our values MORE than loving another person. There’s a very fine line between enabling someone to treat you poorly and allowing them to feel however they need to feel. When you become the object of their resentment or the target for their blame it may be time to lovingly walk away. It’s not healthy, nor is loving what you expect them to be. We all deserved to be loved exactly as we are. Sometimes that means letting go. Sometimes that’s the best kind of love we can give someone.

ac5f1d63cac89db64819696ae4a18584                                                                    Brene Brown, PhD

A Place Of Truth, A Place Of Happy


A fellow blogger recently posted about playing the “what if” game which fueled my own philosophical thoughts . These aren’t relationship “what ifs” but rather a vision…

What if there was a place, a community, where authenticity, vulnerability, boundaries and compassion were the most important values. A retreat you could visit or take a course, or volunteer, where you felt alive and supported no matter how you showed up as long as you were authentic? A place where you could work (if you wanted to), make a healthy living with, and raise your family while still having time for them? A place where you could really show up and be seen. A placed that valued you, whether you were an employee, a volunteer or a workshop participant.

No coolaid is served. It’s not an Amish community. Just a place of growth, mutual respect, boundaries, fun and laughter. Where you can be you because even if there is judgement there’s a bigger blanket of honest acceptance for our differences. What if that place existed? What if it wasn’t just for the rich but there were scholarships for those that were curious but otherwise couldn’t enjoy such a luxury? What if it attracted all types of people and not just yogis or vegetarians but CEO’s, students and families looking to challenge old stories. A place of integrity where the common thread is bravery.¬†

A place where you can ask tough questions, find elusive answers, have fun, or just be alone…all at the same place. Like a retreat/summer camp for adults on a sprawling property where you could spend time¬†looking within or spend it communicating. Not a place to party, a safe place to find your inner light;what your good at, what feeds your soul.

Would you go?

Dirty. Silky. Internet

 

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Meet Dick Tracy, our imaginative Ostridge , and future mascot. Maybe. One day.

I know you’re curious, right? Well, like most of our conversations, or workdays for that matter, it started with a perfectly normal mission of finding Silky Chickens. Err, maybe normal for us. We decided months ago we must have Silky Chickens or mini pigs or a mini cow, if those exist. Today, we began our research. NOTE: you must be careful the names of silky chickens you search for…

Co-worker: Now I know why that computer has viruses, because your searching “showgirl sizzle”.

Boss: It was a link on the page I was searching, it sounded real.

Co-worker: Right.

Boss: Do you think we could handle 5? What about an Ostridge?

Co-worker exits while shaking his head.

So there we were, deeply entrenched in our google search that nearly broke me. I lost it¬†at petstouch.com, after everything I had exposed myself to in this mission to find our silky chickens, it was the name of that site. It just sounded¬†… wrong. Like I would see a site filled with barn animals wearing silk stockings. It was not that. But I would continue to have my hysterical laughing fit for the next 30 minutes.

What I’ve learned:

silkie-chickens--30013

1.It’s hard to tell the sex of a chicken. Also expensive. Sexed chickens are $150 and up. Male chickens are free, as many as you want because their aggressive and loud, like an obnoxious drunk girl, no one wants them. So if you’re willing to make it a coin toss then it’s $5 each, with a 15 chick minimum. So many jokes.¬†Fertilized hatching eggs around $30 for 6. This was quickly becoming a larger commitment and¬†a breeding ground for inappropriate humor. So, naturally, we kept looking.

2. “Silkies” are one of the worlds cutest and most popular farm animal. Everywhere was sold out. So much for committing. That wasn’t the end of our search though, or our bad humor

3. Emu’s are cool and fertilized eggs are about $80- for a 3 pack…Hmm, moving on…

4. Fertilized Ostridge Eggs are¬†$120…If we want 6…which we imagined through my boss’s circus mind would probably end badly. So I guess that’s out.

5. When crazily hunting for silky chickens page after page on google (because everyone is sold out) your searches can lead you very far from your original goal.

6. There is a whole chicken community, including chicken parties. We don’t know what that fully entails but when we found local small farms that sell silkies we noticed¬†many¬†conversations asking each other if they planned to go. I’m very curious but I think my imagination makes it sound more intriguing than it probably is. After all, these are serious chicken lovers.

I’m grateful for my job, my ridiculously hilarious boss and our ability to find ourself in countless awkward situations that had started with the best of intentions. It really is the little things.

Don’t judge ūüėČ

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Resiliency Through Curiosity, Creativity & Gratitude

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I took this photo, for whatever reason, this perfect little heart rock wasn’t swept away even though the sea kept¬†washing over it. It, unapologetically, held its love in place.

In an article, featuring an interview with Brene Brown:

“Emotion is in the driver seat,¬†with cognition and behavior riding shotgun. So when something difficult happens ‚ÄĒ a colleague shoots you an awful look at a meeting, a partner breaks up with you, you fail on a project ‚ÄĒ there’s an emotional response. Before you can articulate why, you have the urge to punch somebody or devour a dozen donuts or hide in bed for a fortnight … you need to wade into the discomfort of that reaction. You have to get curious about it…What is going on? What am I feeling? What’s driving it? How am I responding to it?This¬†doesn’t come naturally. Some brain hacks will help: write it on a Post It note, type it into your phone, send yourself an email with what happened. Then, over time, you can actually have enough notes on your own unhelpful behaviors so that you can spot the places where you participate in creating your own suffering before you act out those same destructive or avoidant behaviors for the zillionth time.Resilience is more available to people curious about their own line of thinking and behaving”

In my personal experience, I find there are 3 components to practicing resilience: Curiosity, Creativity, Gratitude. There is so much around this topic that there are many other angles but for simplicity sake, let’s just focus on these. ¬†Try these steps for yourself:

Curiosity

When you dig deep and question your thoughts and beliefs (which fuel your reactions and behaviors) you can find some pretty enlightening answers. If you’re finding blame and finger pointing you can pretty much bet you haven’t found the root yet. For me, when I ask a question that brings me to tears I know I’ve found the question that led me to answer I’m either avoiding,¬†don’t want to accept or feel released. My curiosity ALWAYS leads me to a physiological response when I have found my answer. It’s usually an overwhelming emotion. Next time you come across a road block — get curious.

Creativity

This is a great way to channel your curiosity and emotion. Whether it’s writing, singing, painting or making. Finding some creative way to express yourself will not only give you an outlet but a way to tangibly explore your own battleground. Maybe it’s a letter, a poem or a journal entry. Maybe you painted with color, wrote a song or started building your house. It can be anything, just don’t do it to escape, do it¬†to loosen up and be more open to curiosity. When your give yourself the gift of joy and you feel safe, you’re much more likely to be open and honest with what is truly going on.

Gratitude

After¬†I’ve over-analyzed¬†curiously examined my own emotions, and subsequently my behavior, I tend to want a lot of comfort and nurturing. I used to look for that in a partner, and sometimes I still do, but mostly I’ve learned to create that warmth in myself through gratitude. By appreciating¬†other people I feel appreciated. By giving to others I feel full. By loving others wholly and unconditionally, I feel loved wholly and unconditionally. I find I get more out of expressing gratitude towards and about others than I do material things. I strongly value connection and I’m so grateful for the connections I have and have had in my past. A funny and strange thing about gratitude … my circle changed. Not so much the core group but the judgmental, gossipy and blamey ones seemed to fight. Eventually they started to disappear and happier people, interested in¬†curiosity have gathered around me.

 

 

 

 

 

Start a Revolution…In Yourself

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Personally I find self-discovery binges to be the most healthy, obsessive-compulsive binge we can embark on. Whether it’s meditation, western astrology, chinese astrology, any of the¬†ologies, spirituality, faith, therapy, crystals, personal growth books/workshops/seminars, nature, or simply conversations with friends. You name it, there’s a way for you to connect with your inner spirit,your soul. Find it. Your quality of life depends on it. Other people’s lives depend on it. One of my favorite quotes is by Ghandi:

Be the change you want to see in the world

You can’t create change, a revolution or any major shifts in consciousness without first looking within. Your friends will benefit, your family will benefit and even strangers will benefit. When your operating at your full potential, you’re genuinely happy and authentically YOU. Others will be brave enough to do the same, even if it starts with just your intimate circle. It will spread, like magic.

Here are 5 tips to find your calling:

1. Seek a mentor or many mentors

When you find healthy people to align with, people that you aspire to be like, magic will happen. Having a guide, or guides, will provide you with a stable platform of non-judgement while you sift through limiting beliefs. They will challenge you and hold you accountable. They will teach you different methods that have worked for them. They will give you new tools. They will accept you when you fall on your face, and you will, because they’ve been there. They understand.

2. Find a way to quiet your mind

Whether it’s nature, mediation, yoga, instrumental music or solitude. Find a way to cut down the chatter, both around you and in yourself. At first, your internal dialogue will be quite chatty. Don’t judge it, just let it flow through you. You may need to journal at first, to know that you can have an outlet if you need to. Eventually, try to just listen, not holding on to anything but watching the thoughts flow by like subtitles on a foreign movie. They will calm and you will be able to slowly discern which thoughts and ideas need your attention and which are fear, anxiety and judgment. This is where you have the opportunity to fully love yourself, be your own best friend and your own therapist.

3. Follow you creativity

You know those ideas that set your neurons on fire? The ones that you have to jot down or begin creating because you can feel it to your core? Listen to those. Create them. Start them. Express them. Maybe it’s art, maybe it’s something mechanical. It¬†may not lead anywhere but you will feel fulfilled and accomplished for having tried it out.

4. Create a basic routine

This one can be the hardest but you can’t start a revolution without passion and commitment. Not all of us are in a position where we can leave our lives and be in a Buddhist Monastery, or Indian Ashram for a lengthy amount of time. Many of us, especially the ones in urban areas, are tight on money and have to work. We have responsibilities, families and commitments where people depend on us. With that said, a routine, where you carve out time for projects, creativity, nature, friends, conversations and solitude is essential. Make time for the things that feed your soul, things that rejuvenate your spirit and connection with your inner light. Those things are different for all of us-some its time with friends, for others is silence and solitude. It does’t matter what it is. Just make time for it.

5. Understand your brain and body

When you understand your brain and body you will learn your limitations and in what ways you can push yourself.¬†What type of learner are you? Do you see words in your mind or pictures? Are you better thinking on your feet or working with a specific plan? Is your work and life setup for you to succeed? For instance, if you are a business owner and find daily paperwork falling behind¬†while you work with clients,¬†then hiring a manager for office work would be essential for you. If you always get lost on your way somewhere, then you need a GPS. Maybe you used to do yoga and you keep telling yourself you are going to do it everyday. Then you don’t. Don’t judge yourself, just set realistic expectations. Start with doing it 1x/week at a studio, where you are more likely to be held accountable. Learn how you work without judgement and with full acceptance. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone but also be aware of your limits.¬†We all work differently. Once you know how you learn and what your strengths and weaknesses are¬†then you can set reasonable, achievable goals that fit YOU. Goals that fit YOUR brain and YOUR body. Not what society tells you they should be.

What does your revolution look like? What feeds your soul? How do connect with yourself? How are you affecting others? What do you WANT your revolution to look like?

Personal Growth or Just “A Growth”?

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So I’ve been fixated lately on “understanding it all”. There are boatloads of benefits that come with this tenacious curiosity…mixed with a lack of adequate sleep, poor prioritization and being late to work. I’m so very grateful that my boss enjoys this personal journey as much as I do. She’s quite forgiving that I have been late all this week because I’ve been obsessed with processing my emotions and my life while still needing to work my second job and follow through on my homework assignments for school.

The Burning Questions

Something upsetting happens and you begin to ask, “what does it mean? Where am I meant to be? What’s the right path? Have you gone from feeling out-of-sync to “in-tune” with your soul so much that things keep happening to validate your own curiosity? A friend reads you something random that you end up randomly reading the next day. A conversation with one person primes you to handle a conversation with someone else shortly thereafter? A burning question that is seemingly unanswerable gets answered through someone else’s scenario which¬†is exactly the same? Everything seems to be tying into everything else? Am I making any sense?

Unexpected Answers

I’ve been meditating often lately, asking questions, searching for answers and letting go of expectations. The other day a friend insisted reading me a page out of A Return to Love,¬†a book about compassion and love unburdened by the ego (as much as thats possible anyway). It resonated with me so much that I immediately bought it. I felt a bit guilty that I didn’t finish another book, recommended by a different friend, so hurriedly completed that one while I waited for this one to arrive. When I received it, I opened a random page just to see what I picked. As I began reading I realized…I was reading exactly the same page my friend felt the urge to share with me. The one page that made me want to buy it! I was hooked. Feeling accomplished that I finished the other book recommended to me, I called that friend and told her about the new one. As I was backpedaling a bit, due to her silence, and thinking I sounded like a crazy hippie lunatic, she reassured me that it was a bizarre coincidence. She asked “did you look into the page numbers and see if they mean anything?”. GASP! She was still with me! And curious! Ok, this never seems to happen! So, the natural next step was to thoroughly engulf myself in Numerology…mind you I do have a TON of homework to do with an exam coming up. Which means I’m interested in anything BUT math right now. None of these recent scenarios are really answers and yet I feel like I’m be guided smoothly towards them, well, except for the homework part.

Doubt & Validation

I though to myself, maybe I’m going too far. Maybe I’m questioning things too much. Maybe this is unhealthy because it’s distracting me from my laundry, my homework, my clock…Then someone else brought up a conversation about spirituality and another person spoke of¬†“higher vibrations” and our “higher selves”. I feel things shifting. I feel a power beyond myself, validating my thoughts and allowing me to let go of old stories and limiting beliefs. I’m bathing in hope, inspiration, creativity, beauty and connectedness. Examining my own nature no longer feels like a growth inside me that makes me overanalyze everything but personal growth that is allowing me to bask in this journey of self exploration with others that find it just as valuable and essential. I am so eternally grateful.

Revel in the beauty that is uniquely you

Enjoy every conversation and every interaction

Listen with eagerness and engage with enthusiasm

Let your inner light guide you without judgement or expectations

Trust your intuition

Live passionately

Midgets, Albinos and Dead birds

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The fully wearable and operational suit

So this just happened…

DISCLAIMER: I take full responsibility for the irreverence of this post and only found it amusing in how quickly our conversation turned into an in-depth analysis of a subject we knew nothing about. Please pardon my own offensive ignorance, seriously.

Me: “We should get a trampoline for our students.”

Boss: “No, it’s a bad idea. We’ve done it before and they just launch each other. We could only do it if we provide velcro suits and a wall.”

Boss’s 22yr old son: “It reminds me of Wolf of Wall Street with the midgets. I don’t think that’s legal anymore though.”

Me: “No it’s not legal. But I don’t know why, what’s wrong with¬†suiting them up in velcro suits and catapulting them onto a wall…If that’s how they want to earn their living.”

Boss:¬†“Um, ok, you have to stop. That’s horrible. 1) because that’s like saying why did we abolish slavery and 2) because the only jobs ever offered to them for ¬†long time were circuses and acts like that. So it was outlawed and you’re a dick. Now that I think of it, I never see midgets working anywhere…or albinos…or dead birds?? I’m concerned, I know they’re out there, I know I should see like 10 dead birds a day, or a midget or albino once in a while but I don’t! Are they hiding and then eating all the dead birds so no one sees them??”

Me: “Wow, you got really worked up over that. I didn’t think of it that way. I didn’t mean it to be a dick. I would love to be paid to wear velcro and be¬†launched. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I’m too heavy for all that.”

Co-worker A: (Our fiery 63yr old teachers aide that was previously laughing too hard to speak) “You’re right! Where are all the dead birds?! I don’t know about albinos but I work with a person like that¬†at the other school. He has a cute butt!”

Boss: “You can see it? Is that all he is…a butt? I don’t think they liked being called Midgets anymore but the way. I think the preferred term is ‘little people’.”

Co-worker B: (who only walked in at that line) “I used to work¬†with a little person at my pizza place job, he¬†was¬†4’11″and a dough roller.”

Co-worker A: “I’m 4’11” and that’s not a little person. What does him being a dough roller have anything to do with it?”

(Co-worker B walked out of the room,probably realizing what he just walked into and was in over his head)

We then spent the next 30 minutes coming up with jobs we think little people would be good at:

Our determination was…Anything. They can do anything. They’re simply smaller than the average human and that’s it. But they would be particularly adept¬†at¬†navigating small childlike spaces or those cool animatronic suits that never have enough room for a grown average adult and too dangerous for a kid. Yeah, now I just want to be a little person so I can go in one of those suits.

 

 

 

 

The Triangular Theory of Love

Science-Based Life

I am going through a number of personal events at the moment. I have recently ended a relationship that lasted over half a decade and am beginning a new one. At the same time I am taking a free online lecture course from Yale in psychology. Where do these things intersect? At love. Or, more specifically, what love can be defined as psychologically.

The Love Triangle

Developed by noted psychologist Robert Sternberg, one widely used psychological conception of love used is The Triangular Theory ofLove.

Via Wikipedia

According to Sternburg, any permutation of love contains at its root three components. They are:

  1. Intimacy: Feelings of attachment, closeness, typified by sharing secrets, etc.
  2. Passion: Feelings of sexual and romantic attraction.
  3. Commitment: A willingness in the short-term to create and maintain a relationship and long-term plans to sustain the relationship.

Of course, a ‚Äúperfect‚ÄĚ relationship in‚Ķ

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The Island of Utopia

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We all live on a Mainland, filled with typical jobs,¬†responsibilities, consumerism and shallow emotion. The Mainland is where newspapers need to be written at the 6th grade level, $800 iPhones are purchased regularly and people talk about the newest Star Wars movie or celebrities as if they’re gods. In typical hierarchy, the higher classes judge your value in whether or not you have MA or PhD at the end of your name and¬†many others are constantly competing to “keep up with the Jones'”. That’s the Mainland. We all have lived here or currently live here. There are all walks of life on the Mainland, but the Critic, the Optimist and the Warrior are more common than others.

Some of us walk out to the Cliffs of the Mainland to appreciate the ocean because we know the Island is out there. We’ve heard of its beauty. According to legend, it’s a snowglobe of perfection filled with¬†happiness, hopes, dreams and transcendence. Elders make¬†it appear like a¬†mystical utopia where¬†enlightenment comes naturally. Here’s the thing though…the waters can be choppy, you can’t fly there, there are no hotels and its innocent beauty has been preserved. The worlds deepest trench is between the Mainland and the Island, new species are discovered all the time and its particularly dangerous because many predators breed there.

The Island tests our courage.

Some people rarely¬†go to the Cliffs because the edge terrifies them, they can dream on occasion but it never goes beyond that. They are susceptible to gossip, conspiracies and fear mongering. Complaining is their way of life, dreaming is¬†not acceptance of reality, that’s for the hippies and the rich.¬†Their relationships are typically toxic, non-existent, superficial or co-dependent. A staggering percentage of the population on the Mainland are these types. These are the Critics.

Others are so fascinated by the island that they charter a small boat and go to a smaller, closer island. Although it’s not really an island but more like a big rock similar to Alcatraz, only, there’s no prison. They find it beautiful and intriguing so they return to the Mainland with¬†stories of hope and¬†gratitude, convincing themselves they have experienced enlightenment of the Island, even though its not the actual Island. These are our Optimists, always giving advice, always trying to help. But they, too, were fearful of the turbulent waters in the journey to the Island. So they settled for one with a shorter path, less risk and faster gratification. These people are happy and content, they lift us up, light up a room and make us feel connected.

Then there are those of us that build up the courage to journey to the Island. We are more curious than fearful and feel like we have to see this Island that our culture so highly regards. Starry eyed and fueled by determination, we begin. We encounter storms and sharks, fear of death and gratitude for life. Every day survived in these conditions we feel more blessed and more surprised at our own resolve. It’s terrifying and we wonder why the hell we thought this was ever a good idea. There’s a reason no one you know has ever actually been there, we think to ourselves. This really sucks. We get stung by jellyfish but learn that the pain eventually goes away. A shark bites off a finger and we learn to write with the other hand. We¬†run out of food but learn to fish with dolphins. Every “bad” thing, teaches us something else.¬†It’s long and arduous. When we finally¬†arrive¬†bruised, beaten and exhausted, we find the Island is nothing the stories spoke of. It’s no more of a utopia than the tiny Alcatraz-like rock. But that’s ok, we think. ¬†This is beautiful BECAUSE of what it took to get here. We arrive different, changed, grateful. These¬†are the Warriors.

When we return to the Mainland, we share our story. The Critics judge us and make fun of our missing finger, the Optimists think you learned what they did, but the still have all their digits¬†and no idea how to fish. But the Warriors, they see you immediately. They see the waves of the journey in your eyes. They can relate with their missing toe and tales of near death. They don’t speak of the¬†Island as a utopia, because like you, they have been there, and ¬†know the utopia resides in you, every second of every day. They know that some lessons can only be learned when you need to learn them for your very survival.

 

 

Do you believe in Magic? ūüéľ

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Option Institute

¬†I can hear the song as I write this. Seriously though, do you? Do you believe that truly extraordinary things are possible? Things that you never saw coming or anticipated? I do. While processing my shocking divorce I went to the Option Institute above, it was a healthy reminder that I could choose however I wanted or needed to feel. I chose every emotion I could, it was liberating and exhausting. Boy did I go through it. I laughed cried, yelled and blamed. And not one damn person judged me for it. During that time a friend said to me, ” Do you believe in Magic? I do, it’s you.” I immediately told him how cheesy he was, at which point we both laughed our assesses off from the realization. He started to explain what he actually meant.¬†

Children have a certain magic to them because they are full of wonder and curiosity. 

Apparently, even as a grown woman, I have that. I was going to improv, hiking, meeting new people, letting go of old ones and stepping outside of my dark sadness that was my divorce. I’ve seen some serious shit in my life and THAT, my friends, is my coping mechanism. Oh, I wallow too. But I always come back to “where’s the magic?”. I start listening to my inner light, listening to my inspiration and coach myself out of pain and despair. I start reminding myself that the universe is benevolent and really only wants the best for us. I think of Pablo Picasso’s quote:

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

When I was teenager and later when I went through my divorce it was curiousity, tenacity and hope that separated me from the herd. At 15, I was an overweight dropout, severely depressed, that smoked a lot of different things. By 19, I graduated with honors, I had quit smoking, and I was a mentor and leader to other at-risk kids. I refused to be a statistic. I would magically have checks show up in the mail when I was dead broke but working my ass off to reach a certain amount. Old friends would always re-appear when something painful was about to happen and I always seemed to find myself a mentor. So, now, it’s time again for another chapter and while this whole flying-in-the-air-but-waiting-to-pull-the-ripcord-until-I-know-where-I’m-landing feeling is exhausting, it also reminds me I’m alive with wonder, curiosity and magic. Wherever I land, it will not be because I had too but because I picked my landing zone purposefully. ‚ėļÔłŹ‚̧ԳŹūüíúūüíöūüíô

Contempt marries creativity?

 
Credit: I have no earthly idea but if you do, let me know.

We have ALL felt this way before. I will to to keep this short but you know how I LOVE to write when I have other things to do. I have shared with you all lately the things I have been going through, including my post “This is the part where I start taking over”. (Which I removed, then put back up because it tells a story and I’m trying not to feel ashamed) A friend recently read it and said, “whew, it’s good, but I hope he never reads that or he’ll feel really small.” When I felt pleased that she thought it would make him feel small or hurt him, I knew…

CRAP. I must be really pissed at myself

I sent my pain out into the universe, knowing that maybe one day he would come across it, or feel the anger I was sending to him intuitively. I was hurt and blaming him for my pain. That’s not the person I aspire to be. The truth is, I’m not perfect either. Our relationship moved at lighting speed and we should have taken things slower before I jumped in the deep end with an already established family. I felt like I failed, AGAIN. I already felt like a failure for my marriage falling apart. In the previous post I spoke about my ex-husband like he was a saint, and for much of our relationship he was. But at the end, he metaphorically lit everything on fire. He was spiteful and cruel, using every possible insecurity he could. That wasn’t my friend. My friend had left our relationship months before it ended and I hadn’t even realized.

My current/past/complicated relationship is highly emotional and confusing. I’ve never dealt with that level of connection in a relationship before and felt very unprepared. At the same time, neither one of us seemed able to live with each other. I feel less trapped now and back in control of my life and my surroundings. I meant

This is definitely the part where I start taking over

The post I wrote before was driven by my own temper, which in my mind, clouds your judgement and dampens creativity since it only tells part of the story. I felt empowered by contempt at the time, but I realize now that it’s not my only emotion and I have no absolutes or total clarity yet. I personally felt, in that instance, it was not a good thing. I don’t want to cast stones, even if I was hurting. So readers, please, accept my apologies, I’m not hurting like I was. Maybe there will be a redefined future for us, and maybe not. Either way, I will be ok and stand for what’s important to me. It took a friend to say what she said for me to realize how intense it really was.

Anyone who has an emotional reaction to one of my paintings, knows how I felt when I painted it.” Painter, Mark Rothko

Maybe some of you were able to relate to how I was feeling in that post, if so, thank you for understanding. However, my goal of this blog is not to be angry or blame anyone for my own emotions. Sometimes I will bring you with me as I process things. The original intention was not to be condescending towards him but open about my own pain. I had simply wanted to empower myself to feel confident in my choice to move out because I was heartbroken. Well, it worked. I did what I need to, propelled by anger, determination and self preservation. Has there been a time recently where you allowed your temper to guide your creativity and wished you had given it a little time to develop first?

Curly fries, trampolines, tears and unconditional love

There’s been an overload of carbs and cheese lately, believing that my pain could be smothered in cheddar and deep fried deliciousness. Unfortunately, then I realize I feel even less motivated to do anything and trapped by my obsessing thoughts because I’m about to birth a food baby. 

Then the tears come marching in, which momentarily leads to a full blown ugly cry. Time to call in the troops. At this point I usually spend the next several hours verbally processing with my support system. I laugh, cry, vent, blame and ultimately, accept my current choices. I really couldn’t get through this without them. It allows me to see different perspectives and pull myself out of the dangerous nostalgia that consists of failed expectations. I have had countless conversations filled with gratitude, love, appreciation, valuable insight, support, empathy and connection. My tears are short lived with so much love from all directions.

Tonight I needed more of a distraction than just conversations. My ex wanted to come drop some things off I left behind and I refused to see him for now. It took a lot of energy to resist and I needed another relationship to fill the void, but nothing intimate or romantic. I went to a friends house that has a family full of humorous, rediculous, entertaining interactions and a giant trampoline in her back yard. We chatted about big topics while I happily jumped my heart out like a bouncing Tigger. She knitted me more of my “love blanket” like a caring mother  and her 22yr old son joked that he was going to infuse it with a little judgement in order to balance it out. 

Me: Don’t infuse judgement, now it has to be cleansed.

22yr old: No, you need balance. It needs balance. You need balance. Are you gonna write this in your blog?

Me: Maybe. Why?

22yr old: Well, your writing is like that lady that wrote that Eat.Joy.Fuck book.

Me: You mean Eat.Pray.Love? Your name represents an entirely different book.

22yr: Yeah you write like her but there should be a book called Eat.Joy.Fuck

Me: Have you even read that book?

22yr: I’ve read pieces and a synopsis of it. I get the point.

Me: Well, thanks for sharing.

So, yeah, that’s been my night. It was gloriously imperfect and totally inappropriate. I loved every minute.

Razors edge

Sometimes when you set a goal with enough passion to light the world on fire you have moments when you wonder if you yourself can withstand the heat. Here’s my New Years resolution, which I proudly stole from Brene Brown:

I want more courage, more happiness, and more connection in 2016 and I‚Äôm willing to invest the time and effort to make that happen. I‚Äôm ready to DO THE WORK ‚Äď to LEARN SOMETHING NEW ‚Äď to CHALLENGE OLD STORIES. And, I‚Äôm going to do it with a group of people who are also choosing to be brave with their lives. 

Armed with this strong intention, my purpose is to build authentic connections with the people I care about. It’s difficult to be the bigger person. To rise above things. To let people walk away because they aren’t okay with your boundaries or what’s important to you. It’s difficult to build strong connections because it means being vulnerable, having boundaries, not being a doormat, being authentic and holding people accountable. It means holding yourself accountable for your behavior and owning your mistakes. It means knowing what beliefs enable you to be a better person and which ones limit your growth. Even more difficult is redefining what friendship and family truly mean to you. 

It’s challenging to stand by what you believe in, to keep moving forward when you’re climbing a mountain and the altitude is causing the air to become thinner. It gets harder to breathe and you wish for the ground to level out for a while. People will walk away, people that you love. Others will stay firmly by your side and choose to grow with you. Many times I have felt alone in my quest to be authentic because friends and family have found vulnerablity and accountability far too uncomfortable.

In typical life, we may take a wrong path, lose our sense of direction and feel beaten down by dissapointment or unmet expectations. But when we rise up, stand tall, beat back the evil inner gremlins and still show compassion, respect and vulnerability THAT is when we draw true connection into our lives. I love with my whole heart, it means things feel alive, all the time, for me. This year my focus is to accept what happens as part of my experience towards choosing courage more often, and hopefully, encourage others to do the same. I do that by releasing blame, accepting myself as I am, sharing my story and reaching out to like-minded people. I’m looking at the hard moments as stops on my journey, always finding my way back to the main trail towards authentic human connection.

My life has been difficult the last 4 years. I married my best friend of 7.5yrs, then divorced him a little over a year and a half later. I lost our baby. I fell in love with a man and his 4 children. I moved in. Then, moved out a year and a half later. A coupl close family members battle addiction and mental illness while making a series of poor choices that have left them homeless. After enough time, I sadly realized my help was only enabling them. My grandfather, who was my mentor and friend, lost his battle with cancer. I’m about to move for the 4th time and I’ve gone through countless jobs trying to find my voice, my place. I have since, found my place, for now. I’ve made new friends, lost old ones and even volunteered at a personal growth institute to understand the pain. My mentors have been my cheerleaders. All in the last 4 years. It’s been tough. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve loved with more passion than I ever thought I was capable of.  I chose to stand up, with my head held high and walk the razors edge. It can be sharp and cutting, but it’s rewarding and so incredibly worth all the pain I have endured to build meaningful connection. I’m a warrior on a mission. With blazing passion, fierce determination and unyielding  authenticity I will challenge old beliefs, face my inner gremlins and be the change I want to bask in for the rest of my life. I choose the razors edge, in all its glory.

Creativity and procrastination broke down my door today


Whenever I’m in school or taking classes creativity becomes like one of those baseball pitching machines. It hurls so many ideas at me that my head spins. Today, rather than knocking, procrastination kicked in the door and creativity set one those machines in the doorway and cornered me. I drank coffee, I thought, I texted, I read, I wrote, I drew, I colored, I daydreamed, I researched, I listened to music, I cuddled the cats…annnnd I finished nothing. I had so many ideas for things that I couldn’t stay focused on any one thing before something else popped in my head. So much for my poor math homework. On the plus side, I was reminded that I can actually draw pretty well — even if is only half¬†a face. I told you, a bunch of half thoughts, but with lots of gusto! Not too bad considering I haven’t sketched anything for probably 5 years. That is all. Carry on.

Failure is like a mentor teaching you to succeed

I showed a video in my music class today (because I kind of fell into this class and can’t, for the life of me, play an instrument) so the class ends up essentially becoming ¬†critical thinking. At the school we are practicing failure with our students and this¬†tied in pretty well with¬†our class meeting material.¬†I went to class intending to teach about the power of¬†music. How it can¬†be more moving, cathartic and therapeutic than the spoken word. My classes never turn out how I expect. What it turned into was a lesson about failure. Whether or not they are allowed to fail when learning something new at home and whether or not it affects their retention.¬†The students that had overbearing parents or were judged harshly for failing didn’t¬†take as many risks at our school to try new things as students that had more freedom to fail. It was illuminating. Another student recognized that he was allowed to fail at school but not home, so after 7 years in our tiny magical school, he has learned a different code: he can fail, and that’s not just ok it’s encouraged and celebrated.

As adults we can be brutally harsh on ourselves. We have high expectations and some hold themselves to a level of perfectionism that I find exhausting. When we try to lose weight, try to keep our New Years resolutions or maybe try to learn a new language we can be so critical about not following through. Or, it takes longer to learn, so we judge how we should have tried when we were younger and it’s just too late. Maybe we take a big leap on something, like start a business, fall in love or write a book…and it fails. That can be heartbreaking. But it’s totally okay.¬†

When I asked our students at class meeting today, “what does failure mean to you?”, one of them said “failure is like a mentor teaching you how to succeed.”

Wow!! He was 1-trillion percent correct! This 9yr old just schooled me!

There’s this great improv group I occasionally attend where the moderators always open the class with a short speech about how this is simply a place to play, free of judgement. They prefer we fail than get things right, because things can be way funnier when you screw it up. The first time I went I was terribly nervous but was on-point with my one liners. The second time I was much more confident and got a whole lot of tumbleweeds.¬†I wasn’t very funny¬†and it was totally okay.¬†

–Right here my post, that creativity¬†so inspired me to write, was secretly given to the abyss of the universe, never to be seen again. Soooooooo, hey there failure, let’s dance¬†—

When I was growing up my mom would over-sympathize the smallest things. and make it seem way more intense.¬†I began questioning if I was under-estimating the severity, which would¬†spiral quickly into “I’m worthless, why do I bother”. I¬†believed that I just¬†overanalyzed everything and my reaction was supposed to be victimhood and self-pity. I really didn’t know any better.

“When we know better, we do better.” ¬† ¬† ¬†~Maya Angelou

When we learn to fail, we grow. When we judge ourselves less negatively for failing, we grow. But it doesn’t stop there. You MUST deconstruct it. Here’s an outline:

STEP 1. Yup, you screwed that up. It’s okay. Personally, I enjoy making fun of the mistake. It’s a great coping skill. Celebrate and realize this is an opportunity to learn. If you stop with step 1,¬†it sounds like: “I messed that up but that’s because x,y,z. Accept it, that’s who I am”

STEP 2: What happened and why was it a failure? Was it because you didn’t get an outcome you anticipated or another reason? What was your expectation?

STEP 3: Do I need to change my expectation or the strategy I’m using for my desired outcome? Learn from it

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.       ~Albert Einstein

A friend of mine liken’s¬†this process to the scientific method. You form a hypothesis and test it out until you get the¬†desired outcome.¬†It may seem dry and scientific but this particular friend is anything but that. She has taught me that I was never wrong to want to wade through uncomfortable failures while examining the species that survive in the swamps. She has taught me that it can be funny if your layered¬†in moss covered leaches,¬†because “hey look! You’re still alive, even the leeches want to suck your¬†blood!” That’s how failure can feel. You’re not alone and that is simply the messy middle of any story. To get to the endings you have to fail a lot. Allow failure to mentor you, to show you¬†that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you promise to learn from them. Go fail brilliantly!

I’m gonna love you, hug you, kiss you like you might walk out the door

What if we all loved our partners like they might leave? I don’t mean desperately or from a place of neediness. I mean from a glittery platform of gratitude, respect, adoration and compassion. Where we genuinely understand where they’re coming from, as if they are an extension of ourselves and you might disconnect from that part of yourself if you don’t embrace it and understand it. Where you kiss them after work like you haven’t seen them in months. They listen to your stories and interests with patient eyes and a genuine desire for what you have to say. They serve you questions with childlike eagerness that reminds you they do care. You leave them notes of appreciation on little scraps of paper, on the bathroom mirror or on their pillow. They make you breakfast so you’re not late to work. You consider each other and embrace them every chance you get. When we hug each other, oxytocin, “the cuddle hormone”, is released, making us feel all warm, connected and bonded. Their are physical and neurological shifts happening in our body when we simply hug. 

So often we forget to love with our whole heart. Life can change so rapidly. Two years ago I went to bed thinking about building a family with my husband and woke up to cheating, divorce, and turning 30. I wish I paid attention more. I wish I read the wobbly-head-Bob comics that he was into or learned how to set up a router. I wish he kissed me like he could lose me or atleast left before it had to go the way it did. I wish it was the social norm to love ferociously without the judgment that you want something which doesn’t exist. It does exist but you have to search every hidden cavern and crevasse and appreciate every moment. You have to give more than you expect to receive. You have to let go of the strings you attach to your love and gratitude, knowing that you may not get anything back but it was always your choice to hand it out. That’s a good thing. It doesn’t make you weak, foolish or childish. It makes you whole and brave. You have to be able to confront the dark evil gremlins that are always in the bleachers throwing tomatoes at you. You have to start with you, the one staring back at you in the mirror. Because, that is the person that will love you always, unconditionally. ‚̧ԳŹ

Don’t let one bad apple ruin the bunch

I was walking out of a grocery store recently and saw a gentleman in a wheelchair getting in his van. He was trouble getting his chair to go up the ramp…I walked right by him and thought, “what the hell am I doing?! This is so unlike me!” I ran back once he was settled in his van and peeked in his window. ” I’m so sorry, I was going to offer to help! It looked like you’ve been doing this a while and I didn’t want to offend you by offering. I’ve offered help to people before only to be yelled at, so I’m sorry I didn’t offer.” With his calm, genuine smile he said “no worries, don’t ever let a few bad apples spoil the bunch. I appreciate the offer, don’t ever be worried to offer help.” Still smiling, he thanked me for the offer, even though it was late, and drove off. 

I could have felt awful. I could have not gone back. I could have judged myself for telling him “I meant to offer”. But I didn’t, neither did he, and I was grateful. Next time I will offer to help right when I feel the urge and not take it personal if I “offend” anyone for offering a helping hand.

He said he would come.

To me, this post is so creatively representative of the emotions women feel when we are waiting for a lover to engage. I am a “hopeless romantic” and have recently graduated to a courageous warrior. As a self-reflective, self-aware woman I want a partner that “shows-up” to be seen, that chooses to love me everyday, that comes to our special place…just the way this post so vividly describes. I make choices everyday and when your choosing to show up emotionally and your partner keeps standing you up in the rain, eventually you have to accept that your alone. I keep waiting for him to show up.

tipsytirade

She stood there. The sky howling as the wind whipped at her. Though the heavens wept, her heart glowed. Today was the day he said he would come. Today was the day she would meet him after years of being waiting.

‚ÄúWait for me at our special place‚ÄĚ he had whispered in her ear as he left. She had smiled through the tears that were streaming down her face as he left, for she knew he would come, and she would wait until he did.

Today was the day, at any moment now, she would see him. Tall frame, messy black hair, twinkling eyes and grinning lips. She could imagine him so clearly in her head, it was a wonder she thought, even after all this time, the memories hadn’t faded.

She felt jitters as she thought of what would be. A heady mix of longing and fear. She closed…

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You are beautiful just the way you are.

Did you look in the mirror today and tell yourself “I love you…exactly as you are”? ¬†Try it. At the very least say it to yourself in your head.Is it followed by a feeling of empowerment or an inner evil gremlin that says”Who do you think you are? You have so much to work on.” Just fake it ’til you make it. It may feel a bit half-hearted at first if you aren’t used to it but if you allow yourself to beat back the gremlins you will become more confident in your ability to fill yourself with all the love you need to feel whole. On the other hand, if it feels powerful and self affirming then soak it up. If you did it today-good for you! Loving yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Happiness starts internally.

Spoiler alert-once you stave off the evil gremlins you will find people judging you … from selfish and¬†arrogant¬†to foolish, irresponsible¬†or childish. Others may comment on how warm you feel or happy you seem.They are simply labels that you can decide if you agree with or not. At the end of the day, it’s not the critic that counts, not the evil gremlin inside you and definitely not other people’s judgements. Over time time you will find, it’s you that counts, how you speak to yourself on the deepest internal levels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should do whatever you want and walk all over people. Quite the opposite. When you learn to love yourself unconditionally, without judgement of how much you need to do or how much you haven’t done, your life will become so much more fulfilling, whole-hearted and authentic. You can give more, you can love bigger, you will blame less and forgive more often. When you learn to be easier, gentler and more loving with yourself you will naturally begin to be that way more with others. It transfers. All the bigger, more complex communication stems from loving yourself first and often. Start there. More to come…Sending out big, warm hugs and lots of love.

Holidays, evil minions and expectations

 

We hold the holidays in high regard. The expectations are incredible, from family showing up and getting along to everyone having gifts to open. The tree must be just right, someone has to be in charge, a perfect dinner arranged¬†and no one is supposed to worry about the finances. Those are just the generic ones. Every family is different and each one has even more expectations. I spent all day thinking about what to write about. I knew I needed to write but wasn’t sure what to focus on. Now it’s clear.

I love Christmas. I enjoy going all out, decorating everything, getting everyone well thought out gifts, cooking dinner and watching die hard and a Christmas Story. I have been pretty blessed in previous years, everyone put their personal stuff to the side for the sake of family. This is not one of those years. My truth…is that my mother and sister are estranged, my boyfriend and I are at a major crossroads, my pseudo step kids think I’m the devil incarnate, one of my friends thinks I’m inconsiderate and I’m sicker than a dog. My father and I are sharing the holiday together, both sick, unable to visit anyone with no tree or decorations. My expectations are destroyed and I’ve spent most of the day in total despair. In walk the evil minions…or gremlins as Brene Brown calls them. They are the voices in your head that tell you you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not pretty enough. You are not worthy of love and belonging. Those evil minions can be engaged simply by a comment someone says to you, but when shit really hits the fan their voices are all you¬†will hear. For the last 5 days that’s all I heard. I’m sick, exhausted, beat up and kicked on the ground.

I could name all the reasons for my pain. Not being able to see the kids faces as they open the gifts we picked out so thoughtfully together is one at this moment. That was my choice, albeit a difficult one. The universe has insisted on my current solitary reflection. Sometimes, it is as necessary as the air we breathe. Never, ever, settle on your morals and your boundaries. I’m not saying be a martyr either, that always seems to lead to death.¬†But if you want to attain peace and happiness as badly as I do then you must stand firmly and bravely in the face of negativity, blame and projection. I will not allow myself to develop a cloak of shame because someone else wants to blame me for their past. I am brave, I am worthy. I am a good person and work hard to nurture the relationships close to me.¬†I am not someone else’s judgements or pain. I am not my past but the possibilities of my future.¬†I am resilient and what is difficult today will strengthen me¬†tomorrow.

No one can hurt me without my permission ~ Ghandi

Be very careful who you listen to when you allow their words to define your character. Very few are capable of pointing out things that truly help you to grow as a person. Most, in fact, will project their weaknesses, or self perceived flaws, onto you. Maybe they will misjudge you’re motives for having ill intent. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone has the best intentions and not everyone is good natured. Sometimes you may really need someone to put you’re butt back in line. I’m grateful for those moments. I’m strong willed and don’t always listen but I know when to admit I was wrong.

I found myself recently questioning who I was. My intentions were good. I wanted to provide stability, space for new roles, boundaries and love. Get to know who you are on your own. Self reflection and self love will carry you further than you can imagine. Not everyone knows how to love unconditionally, I’m still a padawan. Mastery of the force still eludes me. Not everyone will be considerate, patient and gentle with your shame triggers. Some people will purposefully summon your evil minions. Not everyone is a trusted friend. You are lucky if you have one, and very blessed if you have more. By listening to yourself you can be the one who decides¬†what you need to¬†work on¬†and what you don’t.¬†So, this holiday, release some of those heavy expectations, know you are doing you’re very best and appreciate every moment you have with family and friends. Merry Christmas. XOXO

~K

 

Papa

Sometimes I will over complicate a simple task beyond recognition of it’s former condition. I told myself “my first blog post will be chock full of relevant articles, interesting stories and factual research”. Alas, I almost didnt write this at all. Especially since it’s 1:30 in the morning and I have work in the morning.
As I washed my face and got ready for bed I thought of my grandfather who recently passed away. My lotion smells like licorice, “good n’ plenty’s” specifically. He loved both. Death of a loved one makes you reflect on their life, your life and the meaning of life as a whole. I won’t delve into that here, tonight, but I will say I love you Papa. The memories I have with you and the knowledge you bestowed upon me will be with me always.

Innocence, Indignation, and Idealism:¬† An Optimist‚Äôs Reconciliation

Lovely review and thoughts on Wonder Woman. A powerful movie for women and girls…

Healing Through Connection

I took my daughter to see ‚ÄúWonder Woman‚ÄĚ last weekend.¬† I highly recommend it‚ÄĒsuch a strong, complex, and inspiring portrayal of humanity at its best and worst, with a hopeful ending.

Today I’m (somewhat) inspired in parallel by (some) politicians, three Republican senators in particular, calling for transparency in drafting healthcare reform.  I hereby present my attempt to integrate that exquisite Wonder Woman Experience with my current political outlook.

***WARNING*** THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE.

Innocence

Diana of Themyscira grows up believing in the innate goodness of humans.  The Amazons are educated, independent, strong, and proud, and also collaborative, compassionate, kind, and sensitive.  When Diana learns of the horrific war waged by mankind outside of her paradise home, she relates it to the story of Ares, the God of War, who corrupts the hearts of men to commit acts of hatred upon…

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The Well Worn Path


I’ve been here before. Elena thought to herself.

She had planned for this one. She combed through all her previous miscalculations, judgements and choices – she knew where she had gone wrong. She devoured everything she could about the Carmengia Trail that led to the Truth Temple. From mentors to books, she voraciously took in everything she could. The Carmengia Trail was the fastest way to the top, but also the most dangerous. Much of it was uncharted and resembled the cliche of “the road less traveled”. Last time, she circled the bottom of the mountain for weeks, only following the well worn trail because she was alone and terrified to venture off course. The time before that she had a hiking partner but he decided to join another group part way up and she was unprepared to do it solo. Only a few dozen have reached the temple in the last century- which means the paths have become overgrown with dis-use. Last time, she literally couldn’t see the forest through the trees. A new path would have to be discovered as she went. Educated guesses would have to be made.

I know this feeling. I’ve felt it before.

Elena could feel here anxiety rising. It always starts as a tingle. Then a nudge. Then a low voice “this isn’t right and you know it“. Then a louder, slightly shrill voice, “stop! Listen to me!”, followed by an unexpected punch to the gut.

Is this fear or intuition?

Elena tries to calm the feeling by directly addressing it. Her thoughts seemed to oscillate between fear of the unknown, possible catastrophic events and a carnal urge to reach her destination. Fear then deep wisdom. Deep wisdom then fear.

” must keep moving. Just keep moving

The wise part of her tried to comfort the fear welling up inside her body. Gently she tries to work through the feeling, “I’m either running from a feeling or trying to lean into the unknown. Is this a sign that I’ve chosen the wrong path, an omen? Or is just that I have no guarantees? Is this a lack of control or a sixth sense to beware??”

Her steps become stronger, more deliberate, more determined, more focused. Her senses sharpen and everything starts to feel louder and brighter. Gratitude kicks in high gear as though a pharmacy in her brain needs to start dispensing high doses of seratonin, dopamine and oxytocin at an alarming rate. Her soul is preparing her for something. Something she’s missed and it wants her to see.

Fear slithers in the dark corners of her mind and hisses, “I think it’s a warning. BEWARE fool!”. Wisdom comes to the rescue, “A gift is coming. Magic and a blessing in the form of hesitation and trepidation for things unknown. Breathe my darling. Breathe, listen, walk. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.” Elena inhales and exhales almost mechanically trying not to think of the worst case scenario and uses every bit of emotional strength to beat back the tears and tough it out. She feels the solid ground under her feet, her legs felt week earlier but they are becoming stronger, more accustomed to the terrain. Two squirrels whiz around a tree nearby, seemingly playing with one another. She grins at the simplicity of nature. Just being in the moment, free from the past or future. No worries, except, you know, constant survival mode. “Maybe they were running from something trying to eat them? No, they were simply playing”. Elena chuckles at her own thought process, momentarily forgetting about her anxiety.

Johnny interrupts her thoughts, he wants to stop for lunch. They find a few logs and rest while eating granola bars and some jerky. He shares his excitement to visit an old hunting cabin he heard about along the Carmengia Trail, maybe settle in for a few weeks. The anxiety pounds back into Elena’s chest like a snare drum. What is this feeling? she thinks to herself. “Calm down baby, you aren’t in danger” the wisdom speaks to her.

She puts down her pack and reorganized everything in order to inventory her supplies, resources and tools. She felt a strong urge to make she knew precisely where everything was.

“Everything I need is here.” she thought, confused.  “Of course it’s all there, I packed it and repacked  it and triple checked my lists. Why the hell am I anxious?? Why can’t I find the source of my fear? I trained for this. I’m still training.” And she had trained. Like a young Padawan becoming a Jedi. She was learning to trust the force within her and recognizing the ego beating it back. “I know I can improvise if I need to. What is this feeling? Why am I uneasy?” I need to keep moving”. The alternating thoughts begin to exhaust Elena so she puts her pack back on and asks Johnny to quickly finish. Johnny seemed annoyed that she didn’t acknowledge him talking about the old hunting cabin. She was distant and distracted by her own thoughts. She heard him, but the pounding in her chest at the forming of his sentence seemed to be steering her. Beyond containing herself she had no ability s in conversation with him at the moment.

One foot in front of the other. Just take steps.

A wisper of hope. It’s akin to when you can see hundreds or thousands of stars in your periferary vision and yet when you try to pinpoint them they seem to disappear; you subsequently question your reality, your own vision seems unreliable. But you know they’re there.

“Is it Johnny?” Elena asks herself. ” Yesssss!” fear hisses, “of course it is! He wants to go to the cabin and you don’t. He never really wanted to climb the mountain, he just wanted someone to go with to get there. If you want to make it to the top, you will have to go alone, or stay with him as long as you want and never complete your journey.” Her thoughts now consumed with fear of being alone again made her pace slow to a crawl. Johnny was almost out of sight, they had an agreement to keep on schedule and allow each other to hike at their own pace so he kept moving while she fell behind. In full panic attack at this point, tears streaming down her face, she tried to catch up before he was completely out of sight.

The first time Elena and Johnny hiked together they didn’t have the right gear, they were wildly unprepared for the unkept, overgrown trails and thought they could get through with sheer grit and resilience. They dreamed up stories of the temple at the top and the feelings they would experience once they got there. They were trekking on pure hope, passion and desire.

Elena planned as much as she could. “Had Johnny?” she thought to herself.  He seemed like he was more prepared. His equipment was new, he even had hiking poles to help with endurance. “Why didn’t I bring hiking poles?” Elena chastised herself. “Oh yeah, I wanted to carry more water instead. The stretch before the snow pack is long and I didn’t want to get dehydrated, that can be deadly. How did I miss that? Was I really so impressed with his brand new gear and hiking poles that I didn’t notice how much he hadn’t studied the trail? What about when we hit the razors edge higher up? Then what? What if we encounter the bears that are coming out of hibernation. What if I have to share my water? I didn’t want to do this alone and no one else was as excited about the trail like he was. I didn’t want to overload him with my concerns about what could go wrong. Should I have??This could be dangerous. What else is he not aware of? What will I have to make up for? Can I support the both of us when he runs out of resources? Oh my god. I foolishly picked a hiking buddy that could put my own survival at risk. Stupid. I thought he knew the risks.”

Elena now felt completely out of her body with fear. Johnny didn’t know the trail like she did. He was unprepared. He wanted to settle at the cabin for a bit, she didn’t. She had goals. She didn’t want to get to comfortable and accomplish nothing. She had been very good at starting things her whole life and not finishing them because she got scared or comfortable, or both.

Elena was now hyperventilating. Her breath felt constricted and shallow. “He’s not prepared. He has different goals. I don’t want to be alone. I’m going to have to do this alone. I don’t want to be alone!”

Elena now had her head on the ground and realized it was mainly red clay. That was only at the higher elevations that she had never reached before. “Shit. I’ve never gone this far before.”

She stumbled upon a cluster of stars in her mind she didn’t see before. The internal hurricane began to pass and the tears dried up. The light inside of her soul was lifting her up like fellow runners bringing a marathoner over the finish line. She stood to her feet, wiped the tears from her swollen eyes and began to walk. She saw Johnny coming towards her in the distance.

“There you are! I though you were behind me but I turned around and have been walking back for the last 10 minutes trying to find you. I thought maybe you fell and got hurt!” Johnny yelled, unable to hold back his panic and concern. Elena felt it to be comforting. “Are you ok? Have you been crying?” he asked when he got close enough to see her red nose and moist eyes. “I’m ok” Elena replied, “I stubbed my toe back there and it really hurt like a bitch, so I had to sit down and cry it out. It’s all good now but it was NOT 10 min ago”. Elena let out a heartfelt laugh as she finished her comedic response. She was genuinely relieved to see him.

Her wisdom was now in the driver seat “This is about my fear. This is about leaning in to what terrifies me the most. No one can do this mountain alone. It’s simply too risky and a persons morale could plummet without the presence and emotional support of another human being. The cabin he is talking about is further than I’ve ever made it before. Let’s get there and see how it is.”

She felt peaceful and warm.

“C’mon, I found a lake ahead.” Johnny said, seemingly relieved that Elena was ok. They hiked in calm, quiet unison to the lake with just the sound of their footsteps and afternoon birds chirping throughout the trees. When they reached it, Johnny pulled out a filter straw and drank right from the lake. “Oh my god” Elena though to herself, “he IS prepared, just in different ways than I am. Wow. I’m glad we are doing this together, however long it takes.” She was reinvigorated, relieved and filled with love all at once. Love for the present moment, love for her breakdown, love for the trail. But most of all, love for the opportunity of the journey.

 

Exploring the Rules of Engagement: A New Blog Series

Fellow warrior and healer wrote a beautiful piece.

Healing Through Connection

dsc_0158The Descent and the Rising

The past two weeks have assailed, masticated, consumed, digested, and expelled important parts of my psyche.¬† A week after basking in peaceful solidarity at the Women‚Äôs March, I found myself losing sleep and breaking out‚ÄĒboth signs of acute distress.¬† My mind swam with questions of identity, purpose, and action.¬† I wrestled with fears around policy, violence, and integrity.¬† All of a sudden I wasn‚Äôt enough, I wasn‚Äôt doing enough.¬† Resist!¬† Call your representatives now!¬† Support this march and that protest!¬† And on the internet, rage escalated everywhere.

I read this article, which I highly recommend, on how to stay engaged and not lose your mind.  The author recommends that we focus our actions on one or two issues, and gives useful self-care tips.  After a few days, I was surprised to find that no particular issue moved me enough to passionate advocacy.  I…

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