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.!

I am enough. (And so are you.)

IMG_8101I have an old story that comes up all the time. I face it head on, and it shape shifts, and I get to deal with it all over again anew. Deep inside of me, my inner critic and negative self speak whisper quietly that I am not enough. That there is some sort of scarcity…of time, of energy, of resources, of love. Anything, there’s not enough. I am not enough.

I wrote about buying a bracelet that says “YOU ARE ENOUGH” because when I saw it, I instantly cried the ugly cry. It touched that soft, tender part of me, illuminating the dark spaces to wake me up to the reality of my life and abundance I experience. That I am enough. That even when I fail, or stumble, or have no fucking idea what I’m doing, I am still enough. There is no way that I can show up in this life and *NOT* be enough.

And as I continued holding and listening to that sense of depravity within me…of lack… of want, I began to gently respond with telling the dark, broken, shadows of myself that I am enough. Holding my heart and offering those broken pieces all the love that I can let flow. I began steadying myself on the course of Enough, showing up and speaking loudly and listening purposefully and communing quietly and being devoted to my purpose and path. This is where I sit today. Living between the calm and the chaos, noticing when the feelings of scarcity rise up, acknowledging and affirming that I am enough, in this moment, and every moment from now until eternity. And all eternities after that.

And as I was sitting with it further, mulling it over late at night, tired, dirty, in need of a shower… I realized that while it’s a message for me and about me, it’s also a message for me about everyone else.

And I blew my own mind. That you, doing life totally differently from me, are enough. That you, and the way you drop in or don’t, or parent, or eat, or dress or vote or feel or recycle (or don’t), or express or WHATEVER it is that is different, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

In that moment of epiphany, I was overwhelmed with the gift of not asking for this moment to be different. Not for me, not for him, or her, or you, or them. Acceptance and enoughness and honoring my journey and every one else’s.

And today I’m walking around, shoulders squared, grounded in my being enough, and you being enough, just passing out enoughs like Oprah passes out cars. It’s so liberating to feel into this truth. Because it is truth – I am, and you are, and we all are, enough.

Today, bask with me in the beauty of your enoughness, and the glory of that enoughness expanding all around you.

Treasures beneath the surface: finding buried beauty in our souls.

So “Homeschool Day” at the La Brea Tar Pits conveniently fell on the same day as our weekly Nature Day. We’ve been meaning to go for months, and all signs pointed to this being the perfect day to finally make the trek up. We load up in the adventuremobile,  I pull up the directions and saw that it was a one hour and thirty-freakin-seven minute drive up there. I almost bailed. But I put on my mental rally cap, and made it out of the driveway. On the (97-minute, 45-mile) trip up there, we talked about what the museum might be about. And then we talked about how we would navigate the day if I had in fact left my wallet at home…we decided that I would bum parking money from my homeschool sisters who carry their minds with them more often than I do, and allowed myself to rest into gratitude for those sisters. Because let’s face it. After all the rallying and driving I had already done, turning around to go home was simply not gonna happen. (Spoiler alert, I had my wallet!)

We arrive after navigating all the freeways and surface streets and all the questions I can’t answer about tar and museums and bathrooms and snacks and if our friends are already there or behind us (see: questions I can’t answer) and find that the parking lot is full, and we get to park at nearby LACMA. We park, and this is the moment I find I do have my wallet and we all dance the happy jig and make our way towards the museum.

And for the next three hours, we learned about a whole world that lived beneath the IMG_7907surface of the still wild and harrowing Los Angeles streets. Wooly mammoths, saber tooth cats, dire wolves, ancestral condors, all trapped in tar pits and preserved beneath the surface since the Ice Age. The Ice Age! That’s like, 20,000 years ago! There are active tar pits bubbling all over the preserved land, even with one fenced off active excavation site. But there’s also just high-vis construction cones littering the yard, where tar is rising up from the earth due to some disturbance. An earthquake, a shift in energy, a bit of tar ready to bubble up and see the light of day.

And as I was laying on my mat this morning, heart open, asking Grace what I need to learn today, I saw the parallel between my own life and these tar pits. In November, I flew across the country to take an Enneagram class with one of my dearest friends. I remember wondering if I was past the “ahas” of my life, because it would just be baby steps from here. Little ways of growing and learning and living into the person I want to be. And then the Universe shared with me through a soul-cracking-open experience in December, that I was very much still able to have some massive breakthroughs. Radical ways that I can show up in this life, with intention and boldness and love. That December day was both excruciating and peaceful, emptied me completely and filled me back up, I cried tears full of despair and hope. I held it all, released it all, and I physically felt like my body was breaking. That my sternum was cracking as my heart and soul were exploding into something totally new. It was the earthquake that brought the wooly mammoth to the surface.

There are ways that I show up in relationships today that were previously a struggle. My voice is coming back, in love and authenticity. I get to speak my needs, my wants, showing up without agenda and just basking in how Love is being returned to me the grandest of ways.

There are ways that I show up for myself today that were previously a struggle. I claim my time, I honor what I know to be best for me. I fill my cup so that I can have something to pour from. It’s so cliche, and every mama gets advice to fill her own cup first … but I didn’t understand the beauty of it until I claimed it. Without guilt, without apology, and with a whole lot of listening to and yielding to Grace.

So here’s to tar pits and earthquakes and disturbances that allow the wooly mammoths in our souls to arise. Here’s to uncovering a world beneath the surface of our lives. Root way the F down, maybe a million years down; rise way the F up.