Sacred rage.

I was born and raised in a conservative Christian home, deeply rooted in the southern paradigms of traditional gender roles and loyalty to our country and our church.

Sometime in my late teen years, at the home of a well-respected church goer, I heard people questioning ideas, beliefs, songs, thoughts…all in the spirit of respectful discussion and “agreeing to disagree.” I was blown away. I had never experienced something like this. It was my gateway to self-inquiry, to questioning that perhaps what was dished out from the pulpit or the Oval Office weren’t absolute truths to follow blindly.IMG_285D44B11705-1

Over the last few weeks…months…years…I’ve watched myself shift. I ask questions. I challenge my thoughts. I challenge the loudest voice, because I’ve come to learn that perhaps the loudest voice isn’t the rightest voice. I’m learning to listen to the tension in my body, because it’s here to tell me a story. It’s asking me to listen to what doesn’t align with my values. IMG_25E2DA4873E9-1

Recently, as millions of women crossed their fingers and desperately prayed and obsessively checked the news for a glimmer of hope, my ability to support the antics from the White House, and congress, and the FBI and the whole fucking patriarchal process, dissolved even more. I’m so beyond outraged that a man accused of sexual assault was given a lifetime appointment on our nation’s highest court I can hardly see straight. I want more for my daughters. I want to tell them that their bodies are their own, and that they get to experience that in every way throughout their lives. I want to see the patriarchy crumble, I want to see the system come down to its knees. 

But I also have to check myself. What’s beneath the anger? I hear the message that anger can be channeled and used for good, but when it surpasses the compassion that I can put out in the world, I don’t know what to do with the anger. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel right for the angst I feel towards the systems and processes to spill out to my girls, my partner, my closest relationships.

So here’s the reality: I’m scared. I’m scared of reversing the progress made for women’s rights, for LGBTQ rights, for any marginalized community. I’m fucking scared and so sad. And my sadness teeters right on the edge of rage, and the big Mama Bear comes out to protect my kids. My daughters. But the sadness and tears that overflow feel more accurate to my experience.

And this this weekend, our country experienced another act of violence. They were just praying. Jewish brothers and sisters. Praying. PRAYING!!! And here I find my sadness, fear and desperation for a change in the system teetering again on the edge of rage.

We’re coming up on the mid-term elections. Never have I been a more conscious voter than at this time in history. I educate myself on issues that matter to me. I want more representation from women, people of color, LGBTQ community — this is the way we take down the white + male driven society that is no longer serving me….and I don’t think it’s just me. Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 10.39.11 AM

Question everything. Get pissed. Check what’s underneath. Make changes that start within. I often wonder how I can be more of an advocate, where I can find my voice in the social justice movement. I’m still in the question, but I know I can vote. I can educate myself. I can nurture the seed in my soul, and honor the voices of truth. I can follow the women of color who have seen the patriarchy for what it is there entire life. I can keep learning.

You can too.

 

(Still) Standing in my authentic self.

Last December, I had a conversation that opened my mind in a new way. I asked, “what does it take to be authentic in the moment? What does it take to have the ‘right’ answer DURING the conversation, not 5 minutes later, or 20 years later?” And what I learned was that when connecting with my authentic response is my highest priority, then I will be able to respond in turn.

Yes, I thought. Connecting with my authentic response, in the moment, is my highest priority. Yes. I want that. That is my single necessity — authenticity in the moment. Connection to myself in the momentFeet in acadiaNP

Ten months after that conversation, I am still living my way into it. And what I’m learning today, is that it requires a level of honesty with myself  that I’ve perhaps never considered. When I’m honest with myself, I can be honest with you. And holding universal Truth as the anchor — the universe is for me, it’s friendly, every experience, conversation, relationship, every moment is unfolding for me, in perfect divine order– then I can accept the messy parts hand-in-hand with the blissful parts. I can hold the pain and the pleasure. I can hold the joy and the sadness.

Back in December, as I was allowing this new space to open and integrate, I blurted this out via voice dictation into my phone …

Right now, I’m learning that the greatest gift I can give myself and the people around me, is to share my authentic soul.

That also means that I get to continuously check in with where I am, how I am, what I am, and what I need in each moment. The freedom of that allows me to be so very present with Self and with You, while also knowing when I am done with you.

For example, the interview I had in Nashville, where I needed a job so badly, wanted a job out of retail so badly, that I endured a very uncomfortable interview process. At the end, when they asked me if I wanted to work there, I was so desperate to get out of retail that I said “Yes.” Leaning into my authentic response would’ve been, “I want to get out of retail so badly. I want a schedule that is not sporadic. But, if your work environment is anything like the environment of this interview, then thank you, but no. I would not like to work here.” 

Owning that authentic space, owning what I need in the moment, gives me the freedom to say thank you, but no. And here’s the kicker for me, it’s so laced with love and grace and presence, but if it comes out as defensive and angry, that’s just another check in for me.

So, if you see me responding differently than my previous patterns may have led you to expect me to behave or respond, yay! I’m being conscious. I’m choosing thoughtfully my path. If I don’t offer up a quick “I’m sorry,” and that bothers you, then perhaps there’s something for you to discover. If I’m silent when I may have previously responded, yay! I’m also being thoughtful in that moment.  

It’s also quite likely that I will stand up for myself. What a concept! I will stand up for myself, because I’m connected to myself. I’m aware and conscious and present and so if something feels off, I get to stand up and speak that. I don’t have to hide it. I don’t have to hide behind it. I don’t have to be afraid of it, or build a story around it, or get upset with you about it. I just get to speak truth into it.

Maybe I’ll hold up a mirror. Maybe I’ll just hold space. But, whatever I do, it will be coming from an honest, authentic, connected place within my soul. And even if no one else in this world celebrates that, I will celebrate that. I will celebrate me. I will celebrate my soul coming alive.

I still see this today, as raw and vulnerable as I did that day. With 10 months more of experiences and conversations where I’ve tried and failed, and tried and succeeded, and owning my awareness and trying in all of it. Regardless of the outcome. And over the last 10 months I’ve thrown a few parties to celebrate my soul coming alive. I’ve cried oceans of tears when I feel my own oppressive voice saying I’ve screwed it all up, or I’m doing it all wrong, or when being honest with myself reveals deep pain and sorrow. I’ve owned that it takes a helluva lot of self love to be honest with myself, accept all of me, and be willing to show up every day.

Here’s to staying in the process, trusting it, and showing up. May we each pursue our single necessity with reckless abandon. Messy and show up

Savoring the bliss moments.

I don’t really have time to add something else to my plate. I’m someone who likes to actually plan time to lay in the hammock and read, or stare at the sky, and experience pockets of rest during my day. And yet, with new kid schedules and lots more driving, and new weekly engagements, I also added a yoga teacher training to my schedule. As a part of my seemingly constant invitation to surrender and accept life as it unfolds, the online YTT came to a surprisingly quick ending, where the company went out of business a month before I was to finish my training. Bye bye to that investment of time and money. But hello to the acknowledgment that I REALLY wanted to be a certified yoga teacher. Onward and asana-ward.

There’s a hefty dose of reading that aligns with the new teacher training. One of the books is The Wisdom of Yoga by Stephen Cope. I have been devouring this book, while struggling through the Anatomy Coloring Book. My apologies to all the important ligaments and joints. I promise to learn about you at some point. The Wisdom of Yoga is a super accessible guide to the yoga sutras, or the foundations of yoga from ancient wisdom, and meets me right in the heart space where I tend to spend all my time. IMG_1504

Sutra 2.51-53

As realization dawns, the distinction between breathing in and out falls away.

Then the veil lifts from the mind’s luminosity.

And the mind is now fit for concentration.

I have been on a journey to discover how to carry my stillness of mind from my mat, from my meditation, into my day-to-day activities. How do I stay in the place of stillness, communing with Grace, when I’m late to pick up one of my girls, or trying to cross off things from last week’s To Do list, or cross something off from next week’s To Do list, or make a dinner that someone (anyone??) in my family will eat, or just try to keep the monkey mind at bay? After a weekend of introspection, I came to realize that often, it’s my own mind that complicates everything else. All I’m really called to do is:  Still my mind. Focus on Mama Grace. Breathe. I crave the stillness I find on my mat, and wonder how to find it in the real world. This mantra brings me right back there. And then, as if it was all divinely orchestrated, I read this passage:

In craving, we vainly attempt to possess the object, to devour it, to have it. In savoring, we find pleasure in simply knowing the object.

Yogis saw that human beings wish to devour, to possess, to have objects of pleasure — people, places, and things. They saw, too, that objects cannot really be possessed. However, objects can be known. And it turns out that it is knowing the object that creates happiness.

In the experience of savoring there is no time pressure. There is no pressure for more. There is no pressure to possess the object. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and passage is sweet.

The Wisdom of Yoga, pages 221-222

So … what if instead of trying to possess stillness, I savor it? What if instead trying to own the clarity I so desire, I rest into the pleasure of knowing it at times? It carries such a difference resonance for me. It allows me to breathe deeply, instead of hyperventilating in the paper bag.

Stillness. Eyes on Grace. Breathe.

And sometimes, in that stillness, the distinction between breathing in, and breathing out, falls away. Maybe Grace is breathing me in those moments. And maybe I can savor that, on and off the mat.

 

Deer medicine: the call to gentleness in the journey.

Every time I see a deer, I remember that the she represents gentleness. After a really special experience with Deer recently, I decided to go back and reference the whole narrative of Deer Medicine.

One day Fawn heard Great Spirit calling to her from the top of Sacred Mountain. Fawn immediately started up the trail. She did not know that a horrible demon guarded the way to Great Spirit’s lodge. The demon was trying to keep all the being of creation from connecting with Great Spirit. He wanted all of Great Spirit’s creatures to feel that Great Spirit did not want to be disturbed. This would make the demon feel powerful, and capable of causing them to fear him.

Fawn was not at all frightened when she came upon the demon. This was curious, as the demon as the archetype of all the ugly monsters that have ever been. The demon breathed fire and smoke and made disgusting sounds to frighten Fawn. Any normal creature would have fled or died on the spot from fright.

Fawn, however, said gently to the demon, “Please let me pass. I am on the way to see Great Spirit.”

Fawn’s eyes were filled with love and compassion for this oversized bully of a demon. The demon was astounded by Fawn’s lack of fear. No matter how he tried, he could not frighten Fawn, because her love had penetrated his hardened, ugly heart.

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Locking eyes and hearts with this sweet mama. 

Much to demon’s dismay, his rock-hard heart began to melt, and his body shrank to the size of a walnut. Fawn’s persistent love and gentleness had caused the melt-down of the demon. Due to this gentleness and caring that Fawn embodied, the pathway is now clear for all of Great Spirit’s children to reach Sacred Mountain without having to feel the demons of fear blocking their way.

Deer teaches us to use the power of gentleness to touch the hearts and minds of wounded beings who are trying to keep us from Sacred Mountain. Like the dappling Fawn’s coat, both the light and dark may be loved to create gentleness and safety for those who are seeking peace.

If Deer has gently nudged its way into your cards today, you are being asked to find the gentleness of spirit that heals all wounds. Stop pushing so hard to get others to change, and love them as they are. Apply gentleness to your present situation and become like the summer breeze: warm and caring. This is your tool for solving the present dilemma you are facing. If you use it, you will connect with Sacred Mountain, your centering place of serenity, and Great Spirit will guide you.

I want, with everything in me, to commune with the Great Spirit. There is so much for me to learn, and remember, from Deer. I’m so grateful she walked into my path, again, and again, asking me to remember to connect with gentleness, love, warmth, and care.

I’m continuing up the trail towards Sacred Mountain with Deer by my side. Ready to face any oversized bullies with love and a gentle spirit.  I’m not alone, and neither are you.

Namaste, fellow travelers.

 

Sewing seams.

Last year I started sewing again. Before then, I had really only mended, or made items for the girls. Some really cute pinafores, in adorable prints, that they barely wore. My sewing machine just gathered dust for many years, with too many things on the to-do list for sewing to rise to the top. But then…one day as I was innocently scrolling through the squares of other people’s lives, I was motivated to sew the Fen Dress from Fancy Tiger Craft. I saw it on the Insta world of Taproot Magazine’s editor, Amanda. It was love at first square. That very day, I bought the pattern, went to my local fabric store, and found some inexpensive cotton yardage that would become a perfect dress. It was perfect.

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My very first Fen. Love.

I absolutely absorbed myself into a project that was for me, a gift of radical self care that I didn’t even know I needed. The first Fen I made is a representation of so much – trying something and really going for it, even though I didn’t totally know what I was doing. Making mistakes and learning so that the next dress I made was a little cleaner. I learned I could sew straight lines, despite what my inner critic would say.  I learned I could make a beautiful neckline, and pockets, and that my iron was happy to be used for something other than fuse beads.

Since that first Fen, I’ve made pajama pants in every size for kids and big kids, and skirts with big pockets, and dresses with pockets, mermaid tails, hipster jogger pants, pants for myself, dresses, skirts for friends … my sewing table is a little reprieve from the to-do list. It’s a gift to myself, and a gift to someone else who gets to wear a handmade item. I’ve found other small pattern makers, like True Bias (hello Hudson pant and Ogden cami) and Sew Liberated.  It feels so good to not only make my own clothes, but also to support small businesses that represent mamas, women, like-minded sisters who are living their intention out loud.

But here’s the deal with sewing: You don’t just get to sit down with your fabric and start sewing. There are so many steps before you even get to sit down to sew seams. There’s printing the pattern, and cutting and taping and laying the tracing paper down and cutting out the pattern, or having the pattern printed (for my most recent pattern purchase, the Hinterland Dress, I actually sent it to Pattnersy to have it printed and sent to me). So then I get to wait for the pattern to arrive, and will cut it out, and THEN I get to cut fabric. And then there’s the pinning, and the threading of the machine, and making sure I have the right needles and notions. It’s a reminder of slow living. Not rushing the process. And — that before the glorious dress or skirt gets made, ready for pockets to be filled with all the treasures I (or my littles) can imagine, there is work to be done. The slow and steady work to prepare for the masterpiece. And the slow and steady work is not only important — it’s mandatory.

So that’s where all this is leading to today: the slow and steady work, that feels hard and heavy and boring, is a huge part of the path. If I want to make a dress (which I do), I have to sit down and do the steps to even get to cut my fabric. If I want to live my most intentional, conscious, tender, vulnerable, heart-wide-open life, I get to practice in the quiet moments of life. I ground myself through yoga, through self-care, through the foods I put in my body or don’t, and speaking my intention. Apologizing when it’s necessary, and it’s necessary a lot, and staying in the conscious conversations that matter. I can just look at the picture of the dress and think it would be fun to make, but stop because there are too many steps before I get to sew a seam. Or I can walk though the less glamorous places to get to the glorious place I want to be. I get to choose which path I take, every day.

I’m choosing to take the steps. Baby steps. And wearing my handmade wardrobe in those little baby steps.

Making room for the Yes.

Last night I wandered around Target for at least an hour. Aimlessly. Picking things up and putting them in my buggy*, and then having a conversation in my head and putting them back. Choosing thoughtfully how I was spending my money. Choosing thoughtfully how I was endorsing products, and fair pay, and sustainable product sourcing, based on my spending habits.

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Oh Target. Who knew you were such a home for contemplation and reflection? 

I went for milk and shampoo that wasn’t toxic. I left with milk. And dark chocolate covered almonds. Because after you’ve wandered Target for an hour at 9pm and all you have is milk and a laundry list of bizarre conversations you had with yourself about shampoos and dresses and white flour looking GF tortillas, you break down and buy the dark chocolate covered almonds. Dusted with cinnamon. I’m not gonna lie, the cinnamon sent me over the edge and there was no way I couldn’t buy them.

Anyway. I said ‘No’ to a lot of things in Target. That I wanted. That would have been easy to say yes to. But would have run counter to my values (namely, not spending money frivolously, not covering my skin (or hair) with chemicals or ingredients that make me feel like poop.)

And in the Nos, there were some huge Yeses. Yes to being worth clean ingredients on my skin. Yes to cleaning out my closet and not immediately adding more to it. Yes to knowing where my food and clothing is sourced, and doing my darndest to be a conscious consumer of goods.

I’m learning that it’s important for me to say No, so that I can say Yes when it matters. At Target. At work. In relationships. If I’m just filling my life half-hazardly, it feels reckless, and out of control, and heavy. Like I’m chasing some elusive something – or maybe nothing – because the motivation is out of sync with my deepest Yes.  I don’t just want to be a conscious consumer of “goods” but also – no, more so – I want to be a conscious consumer of life.

At last night’s New Moon Circle, I set my intention for this moon: to listen to, and respond from, the most significant place of me. Not getting distracted by the clutter, confused by the mayhem. But choosing with intention, significance over the daily operations. 

Namaste, in all the sticky and hard Yeses, and sticky and hard Nos. And bless when it’s not hard or sticky. Bless.

 

*Buggy: Precious Southern Speak synonymous with “cart” or “shopping cart.” Proudly supporting the passing down of “buggy” to my SoCal born and raised children.

My surrender experiment.

I’m currently reading some books … it’s rare that I read just one at a time.  One of them is The Surrender Experiment, by Michael Singer. It has me thinking about surrender often, the word and the intention sitting close to the surface. What does it mean to surrender my desires and preferences to a greater good? I have had a few conversations with close friends on the topic, and have noticed how the pendulum can swing from willful, to defeat, to conscious surrender of a higher calling. This is what poured forth when I connected with the feelings attached to willfulness, defeated, and yielding:

Different kinds of Surrender:

amazing balance blur boulder
Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

Surrendering from the place of yielding to Grace’s precious and perfect plan for me;

or surrendering as a mind game of giving up.

When I hold surrender as sacred yielding, nothing can go wrong.

Grace holds me with my feet firmly rooted in Truth and Love, and Strength.

She allows my crown to rise, my face turned towards the sun, illuminating the path forward in every step, in every moment, my hands turned upwards

I am peace, my mind is calm, my surrender is gentle and I can rest believing that life is unfolding in perfect harmony for me.

When I hold surrender as giving up I am not acknowledging or living from my Highest Self.

I am asking for the void, the inevitable feelings of sadness, fear, loneliness, unworthy of claiming the expansiveness that Grace is willing to offer.

Distraught and downtrodden, I let go out of defeat.

When I am willful, I want to strong-arm Grace into giving me what I want, what I think I “need” in the moment.

Stomping my feet, shaking my fists, feeling the anger rise in me as I realize I am not in control.

I never was.

Control was the illusion, willfulness carries tension, exhaustion, frustration.

 

Surrender in peace?

in defeat?

assert my own will?

How do I want to play today?