My turn! 2017 has been quite a year and I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you cheering me on (literally!) and sharing your love and kindness with me. When I didn’t know how I was going to pull off Road School 2017, family, friends and strangers donated money and offered support and love throughout our journey. When I needed to raise $2300 in order to walk in San Diego for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk, you gave. When I was terrified to do my first Sprint Triathlon last month, your love and encouragement got me through! There are so many people who have lifted me up and shared their love and light with me. I am forever changed and I know I am blessed to have you in my life.
Now I would like to give something to you:
This December, I am showing my gratitude for my community of family, friends and generous supporters, and to everyone that could use some sweet reminders to slow down and stay present during the busy month of December. I want to help you bump up your Self Care, and encourage you to give yourself extra love and support during this holiday season.
My Gratitude Giveback is an invitation for you to turn inwards, to your soul sanctuary, and create a conscious, caring respite space for yourself during this often busy month.
Each week will focus on a different theme:
BODY BASICS (as in ‘duh’ I knew this already, but sometimes we forget!)
LETS GET PHYSICAL (I like to move it move it)
NOURISH THE SOUL (don’t forget your beautiful soul)
PRESENCE vs. PRESENTS (be here now)
You will be guided through each theme with weekly meditations, journal prompts, live Q & A conversations on Facebook, tips and tools for maximizing self care, and a resource list to support you if you would like to go deeper.
When all our reptilian instincts are telling us to stay in and hibernate, our culture is inviting us to “Eat, Drink & Be Merry.” When the days are getting shorter and it feels good to snuggle up to a fire and a good book, society is giving us the messages to go out every night and celebrate until sunrise, shop till you drop, and eat and drink all the things that you spend the rest of the year avoiding because they aren’t healthy. This can also be a lonely time for folks who watch the Hallmark holiday movies and compare themselves to the picture perfect lives on the screen.
I know things get busy at this time of year and the intention of this offering is to help make December more easeful, nurturing, and meaningful. You can join on the first of the month or the last day of the month, all the material is FREE and offered from the heart. It is my joy to share this with you all! The only thing I need from you to keep you in the loop is your email address.
I know many people are feeling overwhelmed with everything they are reading and hearing about in the news. Whether I am discussing the natural disasters, or the latest events in the United States, every conversation I have with friends revolves around what we can do, how we can help. I had tea with a friend of mine, a retired attorney and fellow yogi, who said “I didn’t used to believe in evil.” and paused for a moment, calmly picking up croissant crumbs with his fingers, “Now I do.” Things are feeling pretty dire – more than usual. Is this just me? I wonder… I am deeply saddened by recent happenings in the world (both natural and human) and I also believe that we are greater than this and that LOVE conquers all.
I have written before about Yogi Bhajan‘s prophecy that the world’s hectic pace will only continue to increase and many people will be overwhelmed – on all levels – and not know how to keep up with the chaotic energies. He went on to say that a third of the world’s population would die, a third would go nuts and the last third would be left to hold it all together. There are times when this prophecy feels like it has come true and it’s my choice to decide which third of the population I want to be a part of.
The day this picture (above) was taken, I had just driven 500+ miles in very challenging driving conditions: high winds, forest fires and driving rain for several hours. I was driving a 22 feet van that I was not wholly comfortable with and even hydroplaned a few times. When I finally pulled into the RV park, my legs were shaking. I then proceeded to get into a huge argument with my daughter who left to stay with a friend for the evening. I called a friend and sobbed. After the cry, I felt…so much better. Lighter. Less alone. Normally, I like to cry in private and talk to friends after I’ve had my breakdown. I made a conscious decision to let myself be seen in my tenderness and it was a personal stretch. I am grateful I made the decision to be vulnerable and reach out vs. keep it all to myself. Thank god for loving friends that are lifelines!
When the darkness befalls me (whether because of what’s happening out in the world, or because of whatever is going inside of my own psyche) it’s time for me to reach into my Self Care tool box and use whatever is appropriate for the situation at hand. I don’t intend to be Pollyanna or to sound naive, but don’t underestimate the power of Self Care! When the world feels overwhelming, I turn inwards and listen closely. “What do I need right now?” I ask myself. Usually an answer pops right in. Othertimes, I have to just use trial and error to see what helps. Getting out in nature is always a great place to start for me.
Spending the last month on the road, in a van, living with a 15 year old boy, has challenged my self care routines. There is very little alone time (something that I normally rely on heavily for self-sourcing), there is limited wifi (connecting with friends/lifelines is almost nil), the weather was initially very challenging (exercise was not happening for days.) I wasn’t meditating, I wasn’t practicing yoga, I was feeling isolated from adults and totally catering to another human 24/7. Thankfully, I am remembering my own teachings on Self Care and Self Love from LOVELUTION! and putting my oxygen mask on first again. Phew!
What does that look like? Have you heard that expression “If Mama Aint Happy, Aint Nobody Happy”? I’ve started making sure that I am doing something for myself each day that fills up my tank. Whether that’s a solo run, a tea date with a friend, making time to write at a wifi cafe or bringing back my meditation practice (why oh why do I ever let this go?) The expression “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” is my simple prayer and intention. I want to shine as brightly as I can so I can add my light to all the other brilliant lights in the world and we can shine light in all corners, dispelling the darkness and love it up so that it doesn’t need to spread.
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the LIGHT that is you. -L.R. Knost
I’m hearing daily stories of heart break, illness and tenderness from friends and clients. It seems to be in the collective energy field right now. Regardless of where you fall politically, I think many people are experiencing the chasm in our country: between parties, between groups, between relatives and friends.
If our true nature is to be universally connected to all (which I believe) then this rampant atmosphere of divide and finger-pointing must be painful to all of us on a soul level.
So what to do? How to keep my heart open? No matter what? No matter who I am thinking about or dealing with? That is my practice that I’ve dedicated my life to. Even if it feels good to distance myself from somebody (or some group) because of their actions or words, I choose to take a look within myself and try and access compassion.
It’s a spiritual axiom that we can only change ourselves. Gandhi said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I know I’m not saying anything new, but I’m sharing my practice with you with the hope that it may be helpful. Living a heart-opened path (no matter what!) is much easier to do when everyone is doing what I think is right, or “playing nice” and not triggering me. But what about when someone does something egregious? It’s so tempting to distance myself and say “Oh no. I would never do that!”
But if we’re all connected…I need to take a long, deep look at myself and find the part(s) of me that are related. Instead of pushing away aspects of myself that I don’t like to see in others, or that make me uncomfortable, I need to shine a light on those parts, and love them up. I believe that I do have the wounded masculine aspect in myself that acts out of insecurity and powerlessness. I am the wounded feminine that is too afraid to speak up, or speaks out harshly, fearing I can’t have what I want. I am the divine as well – we all are. I have all aspects of shadow and light inside of me because I am human. I am a spirit having a human experience. I think I signed up for all of it!
I am practicing loving myself. Unconditionally. Simple yet profound.
Love. It’s been written about. It’s been sung about. It’s an energy. It’s a feeling. It’s a way to live. So often I have looked externally for this feeling and offered it freely to others, but I forgot (or rushed past) the first step: Self-love.
If you are like me, you might read those two words and think “Blech”. Self-love? That’s no fun. I like to connect with others. I like to interact. Self-love sounds lonely. And boring. I really used to think that! (TRUTH: Sometimes it is kind of lonely and boring – definitely not instant gratification land.)
I believe self-love is the foundation for my life. When I skip this step (and I have) the opportunities keep showing up to allow me to get it right. Like pulling a weed and not getting the root, it just keeps coming back.
How do I practice self-love?
One of the ways I do is to stay present to “what is” vs. what I wish was happening, and not try and escape any uncomfortable feelings that may arise (like loneliness, fear, grief). It’s a practice and some days are better than others. When an uncomfortable emotion shows up, I try to be loving and patient – the same way I would be with one of my children. Acceptance and forgiveness are huge players in this arena. Trying to love all parts of myself, not just the “nice” parts.
Unconditionally loving ourselves means accepting all parts of us, not “fixing” or removing the more prickly parts of self, rather shining true love and compassion on those harder to accept aspects of ourselves. This is love unconditional. This is love invincible. This is LOVELUTION.
LOVELUTION: a beautiful and quick shift from simply existing to loving oneself constantly and totally, radically impacting all areas of your life to ripple out to others. (I made it up. You’re welcome.)
Ripple out to others?
Yes! The best part of this, is that when I fully give myself to this path of open-hearted living, it is guaranteed to benefit everyone in my life. That’s right, by loving myself, I am increasing the love in my life. Love begets Love. I am surrounding myself with love. This is an energy I can always impact and control because it begins with ME. When I plug into this, I see its effects immediately. People respond and behave lovingly to me. Some days are easier than others. Some days I love myself more than others. One day at a time. Progress not perfection. I’ll keep you posted.
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Back when I was younger, I kept my heart under 24/7 lock down. Nobody was going to hurt me! Not surprisingly, by shutting everything down, I stayed closed off to giving and receiving love. I also had a lot of heart palpitations and irregular heart beats throughout my life. About 5 years ago I was put on beta blockers because my heart symptoms were so frequent and disturbing. Then, one magical day, on a hike to a sacred place of mine, I prayed to Spirit to “remove the shield from my heart.” At the time, it was a ‘throw away’ prayer, something I casually tossed out. I just said the words at the last minute, before I hiked back down the mountain. However, I came down from the hike and haven’t been on heart meds since. True story. There have been heart palpitations, but now when I experience them, I get quiet and ask my heart what it’s trying to say. What do I need to pay attention to? Every time, it’s been related to something emotional that’s happening in my life that needs attending to. The heart is an amazing barometer of the emotional body. Pay attention to it!
These days, I can’t open my heart fast enough. I feel like the picture of Hanuman, and I’m ripping open my own chest, saying “Here God, let me help you!”
I found a book – or rather it found me – The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. I have no idea why I reached for it at the bookstore, I think I liked the color blue and the horse…and something about the word “untethered.”
The book is small – digestible for me, and easy to read. It talks about living with an open heart, it gives directions on how to do this, it’s a PLAN (I love a plan!) on how to keep your heart open and what to do when you feel your heart closing. As soon as one becomes willing – conscious – to witness the energy shifts of their heart, they can be aware of a tendency to close the heart. The book breaks down the theory of energy centers – especially the heart center – using scientific terms within a yogic context. And did I mention it’s easy to read?! Really.
All of this resonates for me and makes sense. It’s like reading things I already “know” on some level, but having it in this simple format has really clicked for me. I have been spending my past few days in my open heart, watching the tendency to shut down and close up when I experience an emotional trigger. So far, it’s been pretty easy and even fun. Until today. Today I got “blind sided” by an interaction with someone. It triggered all my stuff – my “good enough” stuff, my “scarcity” stuff, my “alone” story, etc. I could literally feel my energy body wanting to spin out and keep all my stories alive. It was all I could do NOT to fan the flames in my head. Instead I went and danced for an hour. But like a tongue poking a sore tooth, even with the book, and my meditation practice, and the physical exercise and conscious breathing in the heart, I still had to check several times on my stuff to see if was still there (it was.)
Tonight, after a long day, I am feeling more at peace. I am feeling more ‘free’ – truly. I have successfully stayed in an uncomfortable place and kept my heart open. I’ve felt some pain and fear and have passed through some fire. Having the feelings of fear or insecurity don’t make me pure or impure. The trick is not getting drawn into that energy, and to simply relax and release as the energy appears. “And no matter how many times you’re pulled, that’s how many times you relax and release. Your opportunites to grow are endless.”
You will get to a point in your growth where you understand that if you protect yourself, you will never be free.
Michael A. Singer.
In this beautiful song by Nirinjan Kaur, Aud Guray, she is singing the words “Protect Me, Open my Heart, and I’ll be Free.” I like to think she is giving her will over to Source, God, Spirit, and saying please protect me (so I don’t have to!) and open my heart and in doing this, I will be free. A’Ho!
I am in heavy Family Time right now. Me/Him/Mine/His (no “Ours” – I guess that would be the cats…and they’re not here with us right now.) We’re on a Family Vacation. I’m learning A LOT. The first thing I have learned is that I suck (sometimes.) I really do. I am mean. I am childish. I am petty. Wow. No sugar coating this part. It’s humbling. The other thing about this is that when you are on a Family Vacation, and you Suck, your whole family sees…there’s no hiding it. And…some of members of this family are made up of teenagers. And guess what? Teenagers notice this stuff. No getting around it.
There is a certain terrible rhythm amidst all 5 of us. At any given point, at least one of us is feeling fed up, sad, hurt or angry. We’re being called to stretch ourselves and make room for all that we are – not just the nice persona we show the public. I happen to be blessed by a family that forgives and truly wants to be in good relationship with each other, even if we are not always sure how to do that. There’s a lot to be said for the power of apologizing and the grace of forgiveness. I’ve been doing both. A lot.
The other thing I am learning – and this is Monumental with a capital ‘M’ – is that LOVE is limitless. It comes from source, so it never runs out. I run out of patience and get frustrated, but when I am running on empty, I can remember to ask for help. For Grace. For some “more love please”. And guess what? It’s working. I’ve never been so consciously aware of this before in my life. It feels miraculous, truly.
A dear friend gave me a ring a few weeks ago. It has the letters ‘LIMI‘ on it. They stand for Love Is My Intention. They were created to promote more love on the planet. Normally, my goal is to love more and to fear less (thank you Lance), but to have this reminder to breathe, to love, to recommit to my intention, on my finger helps me come back to this mantra again and again throughout the day.
On my own, I am a human being with a finite set of resources. Sometimes I have a “raisin heart” – which means a little, dried up, Grinchy heart. When I’m in this mode, nobody is happy, including myself. Sometimes I indulge in shitty behavior, and like any addiction or bad habit, I don’t feel better afterwards. Source (or Love, or God, or…) is Limitless and I can change from the “Me” channel to “Source” channel and that is magical. mmmm. Love. Healing. Grace.
To err, to apologize, to ask forgiveness, to love, to forgive…it’s one wild merry-go-round here and I am learning…growing…loving. Grateful.