Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Surrendering to the Unknown


The Unknown is a tricky place. It’s full of … well … unknowns. It’s vast and wide open.

The structured, tidy World of Certainty feels more comfortable, fixed. A linear path is set-out with clear instructions and all you have to do is follow them so that you get from Point A to Point B … with ease, of course; there are no surprises in the World of Certainty, right? It’s sterile, clean, and you know exactly where you’re going and how you’re getting there.

Oh, but when you open the door that leads you into The Unknown, where the path is not clearly set, it’s like stepping out into an expansive, dark galaxy. What’s out there? How will you know where you’re going? What will be revealed? And when?

The simple truth is, you have no way of knowing. Not really.

The only way to navigate this vastness is to listen to your inner truth, your North Star, your intuition, and trust it. Trust it with all that you have, believing that things will unfold the way they’re meant.

I’d like to live in the World of Certainty, but the only thing I’m certain of is that it doesn’t exist. Not really.

Being a solopreneur, creating a unique business from the ashes of divorce, I’d really like to know – with certainty – what my monthly income will be. I’d really like a guarantee that clients will be attracted to me, to this work. I’d really like to know that there are no unknowns … that this path I’ve chosen for my life will be clear.

But I don’t.

I chose the path of uncertainty when I decided to combine my passions, gifts, and talents into a career so that I could be of service to others. That’s all I want to do. It’s part of my purpose; if I was a millionaire, I’d still do this work. When I made that choice, I slammed opened the door and stepped right in the middle of the Great Unknown. (I mean, hello. It's a little crazy for a single mom returning from living overseas, just splitting from her husband, to follow her dreams, right?)

I’m learning that the only way to navigate this place is to surrender. To be humble. To surrender to my intuition, my inner guidance, the Universe, to the Goddess, to God … whatever word you choose. It means taking the time to be silent and still so I can listen to my gut – without my mind chattering away telling me what I “should” be doing –  then follow it, even when it seems illogical, trusting that things will evolve and become clear as I continue surrendering to the unknown.

A few weeks ago, I was 90% certain the smart thing to do was to press “pause” on the Writing to Wholeness workshops I offer adults. The number of attendees was dwindling; it made logical sense to stop during the summer and restart in the fall. Yet, as I sat in stillness, it became clear that I should continue them over the summer … and actually create and add workshops for children. And so I am.

I have no idea what will happen along the way or if people will sign up, but I’m running them anyway.

A few days after I surrendered to that moment of clarity, I arrived at the venue for the Writing to Wholeness workshops. 15 minutes passed. I sat alone in the empty conference room of the coffee shop, about to leave. I wondered what the purpose was of me continuing with these workshops if no one came. Why would my intuition tell me to have them when I was sitting in the room by myself? 

And then I had the strong sense that it didn’t matter if anyone showed up or not to the workshop … because I did.

I showed up for myself. I showed up in devotion to being of service to others, whether they came or not.

In the past, sitting alone in a conference room, without any attendees, would've mortified me. I would've been deeply embarrassed. Ashamed. I would’ve felt like a complete failure and questioned if I needed to quit everything I've been building. There is no way I would’ve told you – or anyone else – about this.

But, instead, I felt proud for showing up. I felt proud that I listened to my intuition, even though I didn't understand what was going on. 

Within minutes, one person arrived. We held the workshop together. My heart was filled with gratitude and humility. I felt initiated.

I have no idea what will transpire and reveal itself in this expansive unknown, but I’m here. I’m showing up. And I’ve surrendered. And I trust that whatever comes is meant to come.

What are you willing to let go of so that you can enter this great space of the unknown, trusting that it will work out in the way that is best for you?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Saying No

 I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to say no … even during times it would serve me well.

But no constricts my throat, squeezes tight, and doesn’t let go. So, instead of feeling uncomfortable and listening to my intuition, I’ve said yes when no was the best – most honest – answer. I said:

Yes to the easy university, the safer choice.
Yes to men who didn’t have genuine interest in me.
Yes to moving continents when I knew the change would risk my marriage.
Yes to letting men return in hopes that promises would be kept this time.

These are ways I’ve compromised myself. Sold out.

Each yes whittled at my integrity and discipline to set clear, firm boundaries. I’d bend – if not break – my truth to fit nicely into the palm of someone else’s life, their needs, their desires. I gave away my sovereignty and power to reign over my life with surety and clarity.

Why did I say yes when I knew deep inside I should say no? Why was it difficult to trust myself?

It’s not that I was unsure about what I wanted and needed; the problem was I didn’t believe I was worthy of my desires. Deep inside, I worried that what I most wanted was a wistful dream, something unattainable. (I still struggle with this belief at times.)

See, if I said yes, maybe I’d get a sliver, a semblance of what I wanted. That was enough. I accepted, heartily and gratefully, the crumbs tossed in my direction instead of insisting on the whole damn loaf that I was craving and denying myself.

I was starving and didn’t even know it.

I feared that “no” meant never, a lost chance, or maybe goodbye. A missed opportunity. So say yes. Say yes to everything with arms open wide to whatever may come. Say yes to the smiles, the empty apologies, the coffees, the lies. Say yes to keeping expectations low to avoid disappointment. Say yes to leaking my power and believing I’m unworthy.

There's been a shift, though. I’ve realized – finally – something important.

No is actually another way of saying yes.

Let me say that again.

No means yes.

When I say no to dead-ends cloaked as opportunities, I say yes to real, substantial possibilities.

When I give a firm, strong, badass, gutsy NO! to the flimsy, fake version of what I truly want … when I draw the line in the sand that says “you can’t cross this!” I’m saying a big, fat YES to me. I’m making a declaration that I absolutely deserve my desires. 

No becomes yes to honoring my truth, trusting myself, and creating my story.

...It's not the no squeezing my throat that hurts.

Swallowing back my truth is what hurts.

This is a new time. A new age of reclaiming what's mine and harnessing the faith that what I deeply want is possible.

Anything less is no longer permitted.


So, beautiful you ... what will you say no to? What will you say yes to? I'd love to hear in the comments below.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I Stood Naked

I stood naked today.
In front of a tall, full length mirror.
No preliminary glance, no quick retreat.
Shame wasn’t allowed.

While I see myself nude daily, it’s in a half mirror that sits above the bathroom sink. It allows me to focus on the parts of my body I’m most comfortable with and admire; like my heart-shaped lips that turn into a quirky smile, plump cheeks that lend themselves to youthful innocence (this helps when you're 41), and stormy green eyes.

It’s not difficult for me to see those pieces of myself. And even despite my plentiful voluptuousness – with the right clothes – I create hints of succulent curves that I’m proud of.  I wear my size quite well, thank you.

But today, it was time to take all of me in. To really look. And not just at my perfectly curled hair or ample breasts. So up went the new full length mirror.

And there, staring at me, as if waiting for my attention, were body parts I don’t easily accept: the dimpled thighs; the scars on my abdomen; the thick upper arms; and the marks that stretch widely across my stomach.

I clicked the camera and turned sideways.

There was nothing to hide. Standing straight, sucking in, or having clothes that press and smooth the sticky out bits couldn’t cover me up.

This was about telling the truth and really seeing my body in its completeness without shutting down, without looking away. Facing her. Accepting her. Loving her the best I could.

I took more shots. All angles. Front. Side. Back. And started over again. Though I'm the most accepting of my body that I've ever been - ever - I still felt the cringe up my spine. I heard the voices of old humiliation echo in my belly. “Look at THAT. I’m so embarrassed. If just THAT part could be cut off of me … if it would be smaller, better. I mean, your calves are looking pretty good and those feet are cute, but…ugh. THAT.”

And then something changed.

It felt mean. It felt mean and dishonest to stand in front of myself and feel love for some parts of me, but total rejection of others. It felt like a sick, slicing cruelty.

“Do you love your body?” The question shook me earlier in the morning.

Look, my body is a far cry from what our society deems beautiful. A far cry from what our mothers, our sisters, our grandmothers, our friends say is good enough. And I’m not alone. As women, we honor our shame instead of stepping into being the beautiful goddesses that we are.

We are not defined by our bodies alone. Yet in effort to portray our inner beauty, we do not have to admonish, ridicule, or diminish our physical presence.

This act of being naked before myself granted me permission to see the truth of who I am right now, without excuses, without self-degradation, without loathing over one or two particular parts of my body; but instead, to see this as a holy act of self-love. And celebrate it.

To stand with every imperfect lump, bump, fold, and awkward piece of me – alongside the smooth, curvaceous softness – became an opening to radical acceptance in a way I haven’t experienced. And I'm not done yet.

As the camera kept clicking, my stance changed. I stood taller, crossed my legs, put my hands on my hips. Smiled. I smiled in all my nakedness.  A sense of unconditional confidence rose within. It was healing.

I am my body just as much as I am not. Either way…I own it. It is mine. It belongs to me. And I am beautiful.

So, my dear ones…

Do you love your body?
Find out.
Get naked.
Stand in front of the mirror.
And love yourself.

Monday, April 27, 2015

What Do You Want?

What do you want?

Really.

What     do     you     want?

That’s one of the most frightening – yet empowering – questions there is. It can make you choke. Cause your throat to close up, your breath to catch.

What’s so hard about claiming what we desire?

Fear.

Fear of not receiving it or being worth it.
Fear of the consequences. The fall out.
Fear of actually receiving what you want … and not knowing what to do next.

Saying what you want means telling the truth.

And the truth has a way of shaking us like a tree in a wild storm. It makes us drop our vulnerabilities to the ground, crush them, succumb to them. It strips us bare and asks us to do what feels impossible: Stand tall, naked, and say what needs to be said. No matter what.

Even if you don’t get what you want.

It asks you – no, requires you – to trust in something larger than yourself.

It requires you to have faith in the process, to believe deep in your marrow, that the truth trumps all. And that regardless of what happens, you will be OK … because a pathway to greater truth will open for you. It might not show up the way you expected and it will most likely involve change and discomfort; but … the path will present itself.

How can you believe that when fear is clutching your throat?

Take action.

Try it. Test it out. See what happens.
Answer the question: What do you want?
Then...

Say what you need to say.

Spit it out.
Scream it.
Praise it.
Sing it.
Dance it out.
Let it move you, in you, through you, and out of you.
Get.
It.
Out.

Then let go...

Let go of expectations.
Let go of the need for reciprocity.
Let go of the idea that you’re undeserving.

Pull your bravery out of your gut. Stand in it. Anchor yourself in love … in your love of integrity and honesty. In your love of the brazen, audacious truth.

I know how hard it can be. When presented with opportunities to tell my raw truth, to say what I really want, right that moment, I often swallow it back. I’m afraid of not being special enough, important enough, beautiful enough, to get it. I’m afraid of making a fool out of myself. I’m afraid of getting hurt. Of rejection. Of being left. So I tell most of the truth. Not all. Just most. I leave some out for self-preservation.

But that only keeps me stuck, at a distance from myself and from my true desires. That doesn't feel good.

It takes the sway of vulnerability to stand firmly in the middle of your truth and speak it.

And I’m going to speak it.

What is it that YOU want? What truth is tugging at you? I'd love to hear below in the comments.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Your Mom is Fat


Something happened.

When our eyes met, she shifted and suddenly, her body was pressed tightly against mine. With one hand pulling her closer and the other holding a pen to sign her out of the afterschool program, I prepared myself.

“There was an incident,” the teacher said quietly. 

Interrupting, my daughter wailed, “That boy over there called you FAT!  And I was SO sad that I went into the other room and cried.” For added proof, she shoved the picture into my hands she had drawn of herself crying.

Words have power and deep meaning; they should be used with care. I’m probably pickier about words than the average person.  In our home, fat is one of the prohibited words because, well, why use it when you can say "big" or "round" to describe someone's size without completely insulting them.

My daughter has known this for years. Armed with that knowledge, she explained that the thought of my feelings being hurt, hurt her. (It was both heartwarming and alarming that she felt I needed defending or protecting.)

A year ago, there was similar incident. When I heard that a first grader in my daughter’s class called me fat, I worried my size might be an embarrassment to her. Neither of these kids had teased HER (or me, really ... they simply described me as fat), but ... you know, there are a gazillion articles in Weight Watchers magazine about the mothers who became motivated to lose weight because they were afraid of embarrassing their child.

My daughter was adamant (then AND now) she wasn’t embarrassed; I wasn’t entirely convinced.

Most of my life I’ve been large and many times I’ve felt embarrassed about that. Despite my conscious efforts to project a positive body image (even when I had to fake it), it only made sense my daughter, too, might be embarrassed by my size. I had no evidence of that, though.

So a year ago, I decided to speak to her teacher about the incident, with my daughter present, realizing it was a perfect opportunity to set an example for her and show her that I was a confidant woman, regardless of my size.

But the truth was, that whole scenario stung a little.

It took courage to even mention the situation and request that the class discuss how people come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. The teacher was supportive and encouraging. And though I stood tall with an easy, wide smile that would’ve fooled anyone into believing I was the Queen of Confidence, I felt that very confidence shrink. Even if just by a few inches.

I listened to the teacher say I was special, wore cute clothes, and was always shiny and sparkly. I was suspicious. Was she trying to validate me? I wondered if somehow those qualities – in her eyes – made up for my ample size.  You know, the whole: “She might be fat, but she’s a shiny, happy fat person!” (Negative self-talk anyone?)

...But last week, as I listened to my daughter blurt out the similar story, I noticed something was missing.

There was no slight sting.

There was no shrinking of confidence.

Most profoundly, there was no shame.

Instead, there was a sense of centered calm and lightheartedness from being unaffected in a negative or self-deprecating way, unlike many times before. In that moment, all fear, hesitation, and embarrassment about my body was gone. Simply gone.

I felt free.

Bemused, I hugged my daughter, genuinely smiled, and let out a belly laugh. “Honey, I AM big. It’s OK. It’s an accurate description. But it doesn’t change anything. I’m still awesome.” My daughter loosened her grip and smiled.

“That’s what I told her! I told her how great your hair is,” the teacher excitedly chimed in, twisting her fingers...

It seemed ridiculous and humorous that a dramatic production around the word “fat” took place. (Which, clearly I inspired because of my hate of the word.)

The fact is: I’m fat!

But so what?

Being fat, in-between, or thin says nothing about who I am.

Or you. 

My value is not determined by numbers on a scale, a graph, or a tape measure.

I’m a rather spectacular and unique woman regardless of my size.

And so are YOU.

Do I want to feel physically stronger and more agile? Absolutely.

Am I my ideal size (for myself)? Nope.

Am I going to hold off recognizing my worth and meanwhile live timidly, quietly, as though I don’t deserve to be happy – and shiny! – until I AM stronger and more agile and weigh less? Uh, hell, no!

I’m not a spring chicken anymore.  Life is short, full of wonder, and I want to enjoy it. Despite how big my thighs, ass, and tummy are.

Thin does not own joy.

Our daughters need to see us fully embrace our inner and outer beauty. They deserve to get messages that stick their tongues out at society’s that tell us we’re unworthy, unattractive, unimportant, and unlovable if we don’t look a certain way.

It's OK to accept and love ourselves. Exactly the way we are. Right now. 

So what caused this change?

I'm not exactly sure.

But I do have more clarity about who I am, what my gifts are, and what my purpose is. Those truths don’t fluctuate with my weight. They remain constant under all circumstances.

And I know this: We are all important, invaluable, rare, and beautiful.

I kissed my daughter on her cheek and proudly – truly proudly – announced, “No matter what size I am, I’m super amazing.”

She, with a glistening smile added, “And magic, too, mom!”

...Oh, yes.

Something happened.

Something big, fat, juicy, voluptuous, Rubenesque, curvy, and sumptuous has happened.

And I like it.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Nobody's Perfect


You don’t have to be perfect. None of us are.

And you don’t need all the answers.    

It’s impossible to expect that you’ll make all of the very best decisions all of the time. You won’t.

Sometimes, our fear of getting too close to someone – or our fear of losing them – keeps us stuck, repeating old patterns of behavior that prevent us from feeling that anxious sense of vulnerability.

Then there are times when the yearning desire to intimately connect with another drops us to our knees – if only just for a moment of release and freedom. And you exhale.

It doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you flawed or full of inner demons. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or damaged.

It means you’re human

We all need to escape from our busy minds churning out endless whirring like a factory of redundancy ... the same old self-talk, the same old stories we tell ourselves, haunting us over and over. 

Or maybe, you need an escape to avoid asking yourself the hard questions.

The questions that cause you to seek the truth within yourself about what it is you need. Not want. Need.

The truth about what brings you joy. The truth about who you REALLY are right now. Today. The truth about what makes you feel alive, passionate, present, engaged … with yourself, with others, with the beauty of life.

It’s easier to comfortably create a life-on-auto-pilot. That way, there’s no risk of finding out whether what you really yearn for is possible or not. You can even (occasionally) convince yourself that you have everything you need. That everything is fine. Why rock the boat? This might be as good as it gets.

It takes courage and fierce audacity to live life on your terms – let alone figure out what your terms are!

And it takes trust to look yourself squarely in the mirror.

I know it’s hard. You’re afraid of what you’ll see. Will it be a reflection of a jaded path, worn and crumbling beneath your feet? Will it be that your greatest fears, the worst things you say about yourself, are true? That you’re tormented. That you cause pain. That you’re crushed. That you’re unworthy of love.

I promise you this: That is NOT what you will see.

When you look – really look – deeply in your eyes, all of the labels, roles, and fears simply fall away. What you’re left with is your true, deepest heart that shows up in this world as your unique version, your unique fingerprint, of Love.

When you get clear about what you believe, what you need to feel vibrant, what you need to feel a sense of freedom and truth and integrity, there’s no turning back. And you probably know this.

When you tell the truth, you cross the threshold of honesty, a land where if you continue to make compromises, you’ll be living a lie. A life where you knowingly deceive yourself.  And that doesn’t feel good: because that is not who you're meant to be.

You’re not meant to feel broken; you’re meant to feel broken OPEN, full of a free heart, wide and vulnerable as the sky.

You’re meant to sit on the edge of a mountain and breathe with ease as you take in the beauty of the sunset.

You’re meant to be gently held by the water as you cast the line of curiosity to see what your next catch in life will be.

You’re meant to feel the empty calm when you’re in the meadow, listening only to the birds call and the peace in your heart.

Maybe you’ll have to make difficult choices to create the kind of world that's in alignment with who you are … without feeling ashamed, like you have to defend yourself, or like there's something wrong with you.

Because, really ... you’re OK. You just have to start listening to yourself.

That is where you will find your freedom. It is in this courage and truth that you’ll discover your strength. It’s where you will begin to trust in yourself to hunt through the unknown, without all the answers, and believe in who you are.

Meanwhile, as you harness the courage to stand upon the precipice and view the vast possibilities in your life, unsure of what's to come ... you don’t have to be perfect.

My friend, none of us are.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Letter To The Nice Girls (Revisited)




Dear Nice Girl:

You know who you are. 

You’re the one who helps the elderly couple struggling to carry their luggage up the stairs.

You’re the girl who calls after a truck full of strangers to give them the book that flew out the back. (Maybe it was important to someone.) Your boyfriend locks his eyes on yours, shakes his head and says, “Nobody does that.” But you do. 

On the plane, you pick the fallen peanut package off the floor and place it gingerly on the tray table so the passenger sitting next to you – a sleeping soldier – can eat them when she wakes. 

You’re the one who tidies up the dishes on your table at the restaurant to make it easier for the server.

You try to make it easier for everyone.

You:

  • Pull forward at the drive-through to put the change in your wallet so the car behind you doesn’t have to wait a fraction of a second longer
  •  Always check behind you and around you to see how you can move out of another person’s way … never dreaming of making someone get out of yours. (Maybe you should.)
  • Didn’t conform at school and have one clique. You fluttered between all groups, getting along with the cool kids, the smart kids, the nerds, the gangsters, the jocks – everyone.


There’s simplicity in the way you love.

Peeling back fa├žades, gently lifting off masks others wear is your specialty. You peek behind and say, “Ah! There you are!”  

You keep secrets. Nice Girls are Professional Secret Keepers. You safely carry stories of lost pregnancies, abortions, the steel barrel shoved in his mouth, and betrayals measured by the number of kisses down another woman’s spine.

You’re good at keeping secrets … but not at keeping love.

You attract men with war and conflict on the soles of their feet. You recognize complex Achilles-aches and provide a place of centered calm; but his feet are too tired and too wounded to carry you. His war too bloody.

For years, you help and support conflicted men, hurt men, men in crisis, men in transition feel grounded. They say you saved them. 

You even get some thank yous. The Nice Girl carries them in a pearl box, knowing gratitude matters.

You think this makes you special, loved, different – almost powerful – to be The One who penetrates him, who sees his potential, his spirit ... even when he does not; but it’s not your job to heal his wounds.

Eventually, he wants a backpack and no possessions. A divorce. Or he wants what you can’t offer him: his own children and a clean slate. Or he moves away to focus on his education ... he can’t have you and focus on dreams. 

When he asks you to let him go, you gently bless him, and blow him away to freedom.

This is the pattern. It begins to feel like continuous rejection, a cyclical sacrifice of self. You wonder what’s wrong with you. 

Look: Not all people are nice.  

Some betray you. Don’t keep their promises or show up for you when you need arms around you … because they’re too deep in their own hurt (all while you, Nice Girl, are empathetic about their pain and try to help them through it, even when they were the cause of yours).  

The generosity you give to others you don’t give to yourself. 

They push the boundaries of hurt ... because they can. Because out of kindness (and perhaps, sometimes, fear), you've let them.

You learn that “You’re one of the nicest, sweetest people I’ve ever known,” comes with a slap-down, a “but.” 

·         But he tells you not to fall in love with him.
·         But “I don’t want to keep you from meeting a nice guy.”
·         But he’s not happy enough … because you weigh too much.
·         But he’s having affairs.
·         But he’s not ready for your love.
·         But he’s confused. 

He loves you…
but doesn’t choose you.

There are some, who at worst, know how to turn your compassion inside out. 

They set fire to your self-worth and rain ashes on you. 

You’ll burn, yes; but you’ll burn brightly and the moon will smile at you from afar, knowing you are the fire. 

Ashes will fertilize the soil and you will grow again.

Ashes are story kindling. Stories that alight.

What looks like destruction is rebirth.

See, not everyone wants tranquility. He might like the steel cut of a knife or the desert sting of wind. He might like edgy storms.

And you know how to weather storms... 

You see the front coming and unlike most – who retreat – go straight out. You see how far you can go. The air shifts. The rains come. You smile and brace for those winds and let them rip through your hair. You want to spread your arms out as wide as the tumultuous ocean lets you, embrace it all, and scream, “BRING IT!” 

It’s in those storms that you feel the hot, raw, visceral energy piercing through you. It brews deep in your soul. 

Oh … there’s a wild strength within you. 

And you want more. 

It’s time to harness that energy and make a choice: Live out the ache of old patterns or create ones that honor you.

Listen. 

Listen to the whispers of your heart. They’ve been there all along, inviting you to generously devote time to yourself, Dear One. 

Live in devotion to yourself until you realize that you are the Love you seek. 

Surround yourself with those who see your gifts of sensitivity and empathy as just that: Gifts. Know this for yourself.

Know there’s beauty in disappointment: It leads you to finally recognize what it is you do want.

When you’re ready, build yourself a luminescent, storm-torn door. A door that humbly stands in the beauty of its imperfections,  right in front of your golden meadow heart.

Only you can open it.  

There will be those who meet you there. 

Watch on the horizon for the storm chasers. The ones that show up, courageous.

They drive hours just to have coffee and see your face. 

He notices little things: the tiny mole above the knuckle on your index finger and the one on your heel; that you curl your toes and screw your mouth to the side when you’re nervous. He’ll kiss your crooked mouth still until he knows, you know, that you are loved. 

They love in quantities the galaxies hold and go so high, they grab handfuls of stars for when you have nights that go dark.

Their soul clicks and their arms spark when they see you. 

They show up when you’re on your knees.
They stay. 
They won’t burn you … and you’ll have stars. 

Keep your palms open to the sky, Nice Girl. 

Build your door. Carve beauty all over it.  
         
Let them come to you. 

And remember, always, who you are. 

*This is an edited version of the previously published Letter to the Nice Girls (2013)*