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:

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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?

Slow and steady.

These days, it seems the lessons and reflections are nonstop, one on top of another, grasping onto one thought or mindset, only to find it challenged in the next, the option to hold with tension or release with grace, without much breathing room unless I intentionally take it.

Which I do, most mornings. I wish I could say every morning, but sleep feels too short and breathing *should* come naturally, but it’s not the involuntary action I’m trying to sort out, it’s the stillness of mind, of the chatter, of the constant bickering and questioning that clouds the day.

So this morning, not unlike many recent mornings, I pulled myself out of bed, chasing the quiet mind. I laid on my mat and cried. Child’s pose, total surrender, big, huge, salty tears dropping onto my mat. My sloppy intention of staying in consistent communion with Grace, getting on my mat every day, reaching into my depths to hold space for myself and show up as my best self for the people I love. I practiced intuitively moving my body, flowing with what felt necessary and graceful. And then I sat, and held my heart and my belly, and cried. And breathed. And surrendered this moment.

Doing the slow and steady work of strengthening my body.

Doing the slow and steady work of strengthening my mind.

Doing the slow and steady work of softening my heart.

When I want to point the finger at someone who isn’t loving me the way I want to be loved, I turn it right back on me…who am I not loving the way they need to be loved? When someone sees me through a blurred lens, seeing ‘vulnerable’ as ‘weak’ or ‘unsteady’ or ‘incapable’ – I (get pissed about it) and then, dammit, I take a breath. How am I seeing someone through a blurred lens? What judgements do I make on another, without getting to know them, their heart, their passions, their drive? It’s all a practice, moving intuitively through the process, falling flat on my face sometimes, but so far, picking myself back up again. Taking the breath. Trying again.

Holding the failed experiments of growth alongside my wholeness. Whole, while still navigating this human experience. It’s humbling … every day.

I am doing the slow and steady work of awakening my soul. Holding myself through the tender places, asking for help when I need it, and practicing gratitude in having this moment to be alive.

How are you feeling right now?

 

 

 

 

It’s so easy to make assumptions about how someone is feeling. In an attempt to teach my children emotional intelligence and tap into their feels, I would ask them, “are you sad?” or “are you frustrated?” rather than asking them, without agenda, how they were feeling. Maybe they wouldn’t have had the words, but maybe they would have.

Life is busy and there isn’t always time to drop into how I am feeling, especially in the tender moments. So I often assume how I feel. And only allow myself one side of the big feels. But the reality is, the light exists with the dark, and I am able to see the dark because of the light, and allow the light to illuminate the dark.

Raw and real, here’s the current cocktail of feels…

photography of the moon
Photo by Michael Morse on Pexels.com

How am I feeling right now?

Tired.

My bones hurt.

My eye sockets ache and my head is pulsing from my own cries.

My heart has taken a beating.

How am I feeling right now?

Grateful.

For hearts that can yield,

and minds that can bend,

and humans who are willing to transcend fear

and beliefs

and ideas

and society’s construct of rights and wrongs.

How am I feeling right now?

Beautiful. Whole. Capable.

Despite the suffocating pain and the seemingly endless struggle.

Or perhaps…

because of the pain and the struggle.

How am I feeling right now?

Disappointed. That my bold choice to stand in truth

and Love

and integrity

and authenticity

Is met with opinions, and fiercely held stories, and misunderstandings.

How am I feeling right now?

Humbled. To be chosen for this life,

For this moment,

For this experience.

For this Love.

How am I feeling right now?

Alive. So fucking alive.

Experiencing a new depth of raw emotion, staying with it,

crying honest tears of hope and despair,

checking in moment by moment with my heart, mind, body, and soul.

 

Through all my feelings, and cries and blurred lines, I sit here in awe

that this life is here for me.

The light and the dark.

The bliss and the heartache.

I have everything I need in this moment to grow.

 

How are you feeling right now? 

A Gift for my Girls.

This weekend I was posed the question, “What is the most meaningful and lasting difference you would like to have on those you care the most about?”

I wrote about living a Love-filled, Grace-driven life. I wrote about living fully, expecting nothing, holding loosely, living radically.

And then I really dropped in. I made it personal. I thought about my girls, who are 4 and 6 years old – their whole world ahead of them. What is the most meaningful and lasting difference I want to have on them? Tears filled my eyes, and the words flowed like warm honey on a summer day.

“I want my girls to know that they can live big. That the sky is the limit and there’s no paint-by-number canvas, or formula, or box to check that says you’ve accomplished something…anything. That says you have to do something “this way.” You don’t have to get married, or be straight, or gay, or coupled, or single, or stay married, or get a job, or stay in the United States, or or go to an office, or have children, or be aligned with a particular set of beliefs, or be stuck because of someone else’s decision or expectation. You just get to fly, my little Loves.”

I really want this. For them. For me. For you. Freedom, and not from the place of being a selfish asshole who just crushes people in their wake, but from the Love-filled, Grace-driven place of intention. That what works for me doesn’t have to work for you, and it all gets to be okay. Wait – more than okay – it’s you living life the way that you feel most called to live it. Who else do we get to live for? At the end of my life do I want to look back and feel good because I was a pretty decent people pleaser? Or do I want to look back and cry tears of gratitude because I walked into the fiery furnace with Mama Grace every day, surrendering to my highest self?

Stepping into this space feels scary to the mind. Trying to find the answers for what the world might judge. But we truly only get this one life – this one incarnation – this one chance to live our best life. This incarnation is all we know. If you are desperate to help the people in the world who are suffering, then get busy tending to your own suffering so that you can tend to the world’s. If you are desperate to inspire others to find their strengths, then find your strengths, live them well, and tend to the world’s uncovering of their strengths. If you want others to live fully, authentically, on their growing edge – then you better damn well be living that way, if you ever want to inspire someone else to live that way.

I am choosing life with this intention. With rabid intensity. It may look reckless and  crazy. But if this is what I want for my girls, then I get to be an example for them.

I can’t live for someone else.

Neither can you.

 

Spring Break, Santa Rosa Island, and Sincerity.

IMG_1055Last week I packed up the little ladies and we went for an epic adventure. An adventure that, to be completely frank, I had no idea if I could actually pull off. But with lots of planning, website reading, consulting with a fellow mama, pulling out gear and testing stoves and asking lots of food related questions to the girls, we loaded up for our first backpacking adventure. Five days, apparently I wanted to go all in. Or that was the boat schedule and so that was the option. We left from Ventura Harbor via boat on Monday at 8am, dropped off at Santa Rosa Island, and were to be picked up on Friday at 2pm. With a hefty dose of resilience and a foggy memory of backpacking days of yore, we went for it.

I forgot some things. Salt. Safety pins. An extra warm layer. Socks that fit my child’s apparently growing feet. I was rusty on starting up my stove and how to pack my backpack comfortably and efficiently. But I didn’t let any of those things stop me. I was nervous about weather and how we would fare; I was nervous about how I would fare, just me with the girls for five days.

And that week, with no cell phone service and no other distractions than my own dear monkey mind, I dropped off the grid and into presence. When I was hiking, I was hiking. With my kids. When I was cooking, I was cooking (and fielding questions about cooking and the flames my stove was throwing and when the food would be ready.) With my kids. In some ways the week was far easier than I could have ever anticipated, in some ways it was more challenging. The views and vistas, flora and fauna, white sand beaches and flush (!!!) toilets … amazing. The girls were so tired by the end of the day, they could barely make it through the questionably rehydrated dinner. They went to sleep before dark every night, and slept peacefully every night. Bless them. My body is seven years older than the last time it slept on a thin-ish backpacking thermarest. It now prefers the plush camp bed of car camping. Big feels were to be supported by mama, or ignored by mama, or met with my own frustration. There was no one else to support the emotional or physical needs…mine or the girls’. And in one particular moment that I lost my cool and needed to do some reconnection and repair with the heart and soul of my littlest, I was met with this message from Grace:

Practice Absolute Sincerity: To have genuine sincerity is absolutely necessary in the spiritual life. Sincerity encompasses the qualities of honesty, genuineness, and integrity. To be sincere does not mean to be perfect. In fact, the very effort to be perfect is itself insincere, because it is a way of avoiding seeing yourself as you are right now. To be able and willing to see yourself as you are, with all of your imperfections and illusions, requires genuine sincerity and courage.

Adyashanti, The Way of Liberation

I brought this book with me because it was the thinnest book I found on the shelf. And what timely messages it had for me…to focus on sincerity, not perfection. I want to be perfect. I want to extend compassion from an endless well. I want to hold when they want to be held with endless strength and energy, and have all the right comfort foods and the right size socks. But sometimes (a lot of times) my sincere effort isn’t perfect. And it allows me to see myself, right where I am. Ask questions of my own heart and soul. Meet myself in those vulnerable places. Rise up again, try again, apologize and comfort and release.

During that week on the island, I remembered a lot about myself, rekindling a part of me that I wasn’t sure when would return. I found one (or two…or more) of the million pieces of my soul that I’d lost, and each fit so perfectly with me once again. Separating and uniting, with myself, my soul, my intentional way of showing up. Sincerely. Nature has a way of doing that for me, and five days, just me and my girls, fully immersed in the wonder of the natural world left me filled up and exhausted in all the right ways.

Year 43: Road trippin’ around the sun again.

Last year, I wrote a short and simple birthday message to myself: Claim your space. Get big. Grow.

Short, yes. Simple…not a chance. I didn’t know what I was asking of myself. But I knew I was tired. Tired of feeling stuck, tired of giving too much credence to the negative voices in my head, to the ways that I was doing things wrong. I was tired of being seen as a mess. By others and by my self. I wanted an out from that life and that perspective. The wheels had been set in motion to start moving that train out of the station … I can list many of the ways that I had started to awaken to my movement out of that negative space…radical self care, regular physical exercise, fueling my body according to what it most needed, letting go of outside perceptions of what and how I should be operating my body, my time, my energy. For the first time in years, tapping into what I most needed. And I started nurturing my heart and soul with a renewed spiritual practice. And I spoke the intention aloud: To claim my space. To not stay small. To rise up.

And I started to allow myself to unfold. To rise up. I started teaching spin classes. At first I was so scared. Scared to be in front of the room, scared to command the hour, scared to fail, scared of being too…too weird. After hours and hours of coaching and tears and months of holding back, I finally showed up. I gave it my all. And now I say weird shit in all my classes, about not caring about your pant size but caring about the size of your heart and your soul, about opening your heart to the world, claiming and protecting your self care time, and that we all help each other rise. And I have so.much.fun teaching that I wonder why I ever held back.  I started sewing again – I make dresses and skirts and pants and they aren’t perfect but they are SO perfect. They all have pockets. I love clothes with pockets! I love sewing my own clothes and feeling empowered by my skill of reading a pattern and making wearable art from nothing more than a sheet of fabric. I started writing from my creative space, and sisters, I do not know why I stopped. I love writing from the places inside of me that bubble and rise and want an outlet. I love going back and reading my words and nodding and saying, “YES! Well done, sweet one, you nailed exactly what you were feeling in those words.” I started reading books again, and not parenting books. I released reading out of obligation to reading things I wanted to read, to relax into the dreamy space that a book can take me. I spent intentional time alone, and intentional time with people. I spent time on my bike, on dirt trails and paved paths. I reconnected with old friends and made new ones.

And so on this anniversary of my day of birth, I stand in my nakedness and reflect. Baring it all, owning the highs and lows and successes and failures — and celebrating them all. Because they all got me to where I am today. I am claiming my space, my voice, my authenticity. I am claiming my soul, my feelings, my vulnerability, my light and my dark, holding nothing back. I didn’t know where all those intentions would take me. But with Grace at the lead, I have found myself at Love’s front door.

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Love is SO where it’s at.

All of the ways that I grew and walked through the dark and lonely places, they all led me to today. I love where I am in the process, and I love who I am. This gentle love for myself has allowed me to receive love in return. Maybe for the first time in my life. It certainly feels new. All the birthday messages and calls I received on this day, I took them in, I celebrated them and believed them. You do love me! You really do. Because I am lovable. And the overflow of my heart is that I get to shower my love into the world. And that feels utterly limitless.

And my gift to myself this year, is to continue to love myself. To not lose sight of my tender soul, what she needs to thrive and continue growing. A little water, a little sunshine, a lot of devotion. We aren’t done yet…perhaps… Perhaps we’ve only just begun.

As one of my friends said today, “here’s to the best year yet.” I’m. All. In.!