A reminder to self: it’s ok to surrender, darling.

Human Power

All scars take time to heal; some never heal. To heal is a journey some of us would rather not take. It is a long and cavernous passage that you must walk through before the weight is lifted off. Healing your wound means that you must, in a way, relive the pain again so you can release it’s hold on you. Breaking down the walls that you have built to safeguard yourself is the hardest step to take. Who wants to go there? Not I. After all, we are human and our readiness to make contact with things that are uncomfortable will depend on several factors: our willingness to feel it, to speak it and to accept it.

To accept our wounds means to see ourselves with a kind and loving eye, to love ourselves like our mama did on her best morning. If we want to love ourselves more fully, we must begin to see the individuals involved (and the circumstances) as impersonal, as part of the bigger plan or we will be weighed down by assumptions and judgement. We will never free ourselves if we are carrying this extra weight. Our power, that energy force that is dormant until it is ignited into perception and action, is realized when we see the difficulties in our life as the inevitable changes that had to move us, to shake us, to break us so that our (powerful and conscious) true self could emerge into being. The power lies in not identifying ourselves as victims of the circumstance but as active participants who chose the painful wisdom that involved learning these lessons.

When the warm weather and the energy of life picks up, I notice the incoming tide of constant distractions, disappointments, busyness, sadness, impulses and impatience. In an effort to deal with this noise, my natural reaction is to control or deny what is happening to me. Here, I know that I am in a complete block. This is also the time when my body is most tense, my muscles are tight and my breath is short. I am reminded time and time again that all I’m doing is trying to frantically keep up, stay afloat and hold it all together. The tension comes from feeling like I must do it alone, that it’s my responsibility to keep it all together. The other truth is much more subtle: how hard it is to sit with uncertainty. The need to know, to analyze, and to package what will or will not happen in the future is paralyzing.

This is usually the time I am nudged to surrender.

To surrender means to pause and relax into the space between doing and being, to give your muscles a chance to loosen and ease into uncertainty. To touch fear. To listen to her. She is only a scared child who needs a soothing word. Surrender, my love, I tell myself. Quietly, peacefully, and humbly I hold the frantic and anxious being in me. I hold her and I tell her that not knowing is ok. Not being able to prepare yourself for something that hasn’t happened yet is ok. Not having it all together is ok. Not being perfect is ok. Being scared is ok. You are ok. You are ok. You are ok.

In the flow of a calming manta, I am guided to surrender to the ‘not-knowing’, to the truth that I am not in control of people or circumstances. I am only in control of how I walk through a situation and what I take away from the interaction. I remember that everything has meaning even if I am not able to connect it right now. I come back to the small steps I have taken to heal this wound, breath by breath. I come back to a heart full of gratitude for ALL my blessings, be they hard or joyous. I allow this gratitude to expand my chest. I come back to the tools that I have gathered on this journey. I come back to my support system that spans the continents of my heart. I come back to the breath that makes everything come alive. I come back to the song my spirit sings when my body is in awe. I come back to the quiet miracles that remind me how special this Great Experiment is.

And each time I come back into surrender, I heal a little bit more.

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Today is the day we rise.

Broken and praise

This is the story of every girl who was taught to keep her head down and stay quiet. Don’t take too much room. Don’t speak up. Don’t invite attention, the adults told her, and you will be fine. She heard their whispers in her head while she muffled her cries, standing in the dark alcove between two buildings, with her underwear down to her ankles while an older boy touched her, uninvited and with authority that did not fit his adolescent body.

She was 8 years old.

She pleaded him to stop but he wouldn’t listen. While he poked and prodded her, he smiled. This confused her. How could he enjoy himself midst her crying pleas? She cried the whole way home, weighted down by the heartbreak of what just happened and betrayed by what the world allowed him to do. Her childish frame shrunk a little more.

She didn’t speak about that day for a long time; she simply had no words. So she stayed quiet and small. She pressed her confusion and her anguish down into the pit of her stomach, deep into the folds of her memory where she stored all her trauma. She sealed her lips and carried on.

***

How many of us have had to seal our lips and carry on? How many have had to carry the weight of the emotional baggage of the world’s oppressed and fractured collective psyche?  How many of us have had to relearn, through years of turmoil and pain, to trust again? How many of us carry these scars today? How many of us had to cut and bleed out the words for what really happened that day? How many of us had to tirelessly search for the little girl we left behind all those years ago before we found her, before we held her, before she relaxed and soothed into our arms? How many of us are still working to love her back to wholeness, to help her rise up and find the rage in our adult body and the voice to scream out “No, you cannot hurt me anymore!”

Our anger is a reminder that our bodies, the gateway of all the feelings and bruises that we carry, will never lie to us. We cannot silence the wrong that was done, that is being done. We are asked to see the imbalance in us and heal ourselves back together. Our pain is a reminder of the moment we were disempowered. To heal, we must claim our power back with words, with song, with rage, with joy, with paint, and with dance. The more we move through our feelings the more we see the fullness of who we truly are. In this way, we are building a road back to ourselves where we are safe and loved.

***

Do not fear touching the wound, dearest One. You will only move closer to your own freedom. Once you open that door that is calling you to step forth, you will see that you are no longer scared and alone. You are not that little girl. You will no longer need to cling to the words and images of your trauma. You will no longer rely on the strength of that reflection. What happened to you does not define you. You, the sacred manifestation of all that is love, define you. Now. Tomorrow. This life and the next. But you must connect the two roads of past and present on your own and in your own time.

You will understand, lovely girl, that every step has led you here, that you have been healing this entire time.

This Divine Breath of Life

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Darling, I am here for you. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

If we are not fully present, we are asleep. Breath is the portal to our awakening and our true presence. Breath is our entrance into this world and our humble exit. It’s the place where our body, mind and spirit meet.

Breath is the question and the answer, the intension and the insight, the training necessary to show up and the practice of letting go. 

Breath allows us to move through difficulty and into our power source. Breath brings us back to our physical body, where our vibrant heart and guidance system reside. Breath frees the anxious mind and relieves tension. Breath is the school of loving-self, a slower and deeper way of being. Breath is our channel to our inner love, the bridge that connect us to our brightest star. Breath is the sacred link between us and Source.

Breath is the expression of our Divinity. 

Breath is the wave that blesses each receiver. Like the skies, our breath is limitless. In conscious breath, we give gratitude to life. Breath is the symmetry of opposing forces. Breath is the flow of our humble learning, each moment moving into the next. Breath anchors us back to what is most important: this sacred moment, full of wisdom and possibility.

Notice your breath, pause and take delight. Feel the magic reflected back to you in the coming and the going. Be a witness of this awe. 

Breath is the song of every bird, spring in every bud, and chi on its natural path. There is juicy breath and heavenly breath, deep breath and quick breath, long breath and raspy breath, nervous breath and effervescent breath, the giggle and the sigh. We cannot be attentive to our breath all the time but we can practice pausing and being with our breath whenever possible. Breath is the road to compassion and understanding.

Breath aligns me, soothes my edges, and shows me that there is nothing to fear. My breath is an expression that always sways the pendulum back to center: in music and movement, in smile and silence. Breath keeps my addict grounded, whispering “it’s ok, love, you are free”. Breath is the door that leads me where I am most vulnerable and gives me the courage to stand tall in this world. Breath is my centering guide and the vessel back to my ancestors. Breath is my connection to all that is life, past present and future. Breath is the blessing dressed in common robes.

Accepting What Is: Grief

Little girl reaches for a dream

Grief is our intimacy with sorrow. Grief is change. Grief is winter. Grief is the void in our heart. Grief is the loss of innocence. Grief is forced transitions. Grief is brutal. Grief is the death of an old self. Grief is the expression of our living self. Grief is vulnerable. Grief is our ancestral language, asking us to get closer to our source and to greet our own end.

Grief is a stout, regal woman in her late years, asking me gracefully to feel fully, to wallow in the ache of this moment, to grow into my new shape. My skin hardens, my softness hides. I want to be angry. I want to feel betrayed and leave the room. I want to be a victim and carry away my wounded self. I don’t want to listen or be in the dark with her. But she is not here to punish me with abstractions. She has been initiated to take my hand and guide me into my underworld. This is the place where all my uncomfortable parts reside: my resistance to change, my avoidance of pain, the shadow of my trauma, always looking for safety, grasping for control and perfection, the burden of my anger, expectations, judgements and anxiety. These addictions offer me the comfort of a illusionary world.

I know that if I oppose her season, I will suffer even more.

So I invite her winter in, her dark skies and her stillness. I know when I sit with her, I am not alone. The earth is grieving. The oceans are grieving. Mothers are grieving. Every soul is grieving. It is what it is. I close my eyes and adjust to the settling dust and the pain (or the phantom of the pain) fills my body. Without resistance, the swelling tide comes in and mixes with my sorrow. These sacred waters fill the bodies of my wounds. I see them and I reach out to them. Once I touch them, I am no longer separated from them, from me. Every moment leading up to now was exactly as it should have been. I understand the path of these resources now. I understand their worth, their meaning. Grace suddenly fills me with a deep, heartfelt perspective. You sweet delicate awakening!

I sit in deep sorrow not for the missing pieces of you but for all the time I’ve wasted hating, resenting, numbing, bleeding and creating this avalanche of suffering! My breath slows down, my shoulders relax and I hold my kind heart. I can only offer her my tender breath so she can grow wings and be set free. I feel intensely grateful for everything that has made an impression on the garden of my life. I am no longer afraid of stillness or what I cannot see. There is no cause for war.

Grief asks us to experience the winter cycle, to bury the old self, to fully grieve so new life can be explored and reborn. Our seed has been waiting for this very break so it can awaken to the truth of purpose——that life is affirming and is always in motion. Our seed climbs out of its shell and, with new intentions, creeps up the invisible string toward light. Our seed’s journey is toward that ultimate love.

Witness the creation and be in awe of your seed’s journey. This is your chance to make your most sacred real.

Self-love or the ways we nourish our light

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Self-love is my antidote to fear. When I sit with my daily celebrations of ME, I find the strength I didn’t know I had. I find clarity to approach a situation in a new way. When I start my day with self-love, whether its a moment of gratitude, meditation or a simple stretch, I am able to walk into the world grounded and aligned. This practice gives me the serenity to move and grieve through my transitions because I am not in resistance to what is coming up. My longing for this deep nourishment is what brings me life and keeps my fires burning.

And as a keeper of this flame, I feel moved to hold space for every person, every child of God, for everyone I come in contact with or who comes in contact with these words. YOU, my beloved, belong here. You deserve to be happy; in the essence of who you are there is a bright, loving light. Everything about you glows because your spirit is awake and listening. It’s time to celebrate you! Take time and space for you. Pick up that new dress and absolutely wear that color! Yes, you are beautiful. When you start to ask for what you want, you will be more likely to get it. Set boundaries that honor you. Trust that the Divine will take care of the rest.

All those lies you were told when you were little do not matter now. Forgive those that did not show you how much you value. You are divine. You are worthy. They did not know what they were doing; they did not know they had a better option. This moment is your chance to walk another path, toward your light.

It’s time to get out of the crab bucket. Pick a tribe that celebrates you and shows you how to tend to this light. Your wounds and thorns are begging to be seen, to be cared for by you. Your solid breath means that you are alive, that you matter. Your life is a divine expression so paint your canvas as you wish. Each moment has the potential to expand you, to create deeper pathway so you can realize your divine fullness. But your feet won’t break from concrete unless you start to listen to the thoughts and words you chose to project out into the world. Pay attention where you invest your energy.

Thank your critic for all her hard work and let her know that she isn’t needed anymore; it’s time to write a new script. Surround yourself with positive words and affirmations:

I am full of greatness.

I am beautiful in the way it matters.

I am valuable.

I belong here in my body, in my home.

I love me deeply.

I am full of joy.

My path is bliss.

At first it might feel weird to read these words out loud, like you’ve put on someone else’s coat. You are growing ready through practice. Your route is perfect because it has brought you here. This moment, even if it’s difficult, is vying for your attention. So stop. Listen. Take a breath. Pay attention to the signs that are showing you where to move next.

If you could look back (in hindsight), and do it differently, then you learned what was asked of you to learn. Forgive yourself. Don’t be afraid to open the door to healing. It will only empower you to chose better next time. Don’t give up; everything is secretly rooting for you, especially the flowers.

Change is inevitable, as is rain and winter. Make peace with change by letting yourself grieve when grief is calling. Connect the dots back to your inner child. Hold her. Heal her. Love her. Shield her. She was too little to know more than her circumstance. You are not your circumstances and you are not your mistakes. You had to survive so you could awake!

Accept the pain because it is here to teach you and show you how to feel. Accept the fear because it is showing you another path. Accept the joy because that is your most authentic human expression. Don’t take what others do and say personally; send people compassion instead, that is really what they are begging for. Nourish the seed within as you would a child. It’s never too late to grow anew. This is our sacred journey, our rights of passage to self-worth and power. You are worthy. You are a Gift to this world. You are greatness. You are ready to receive.

Only you know what brings you joy. Go there.

What scares me about writing: finding a path to heal my inner child

healing

Dear child who belonged, who was loved, supported and heard. You could not have known where you were going or who you were leaving behind. You were nine years old. How could you understand the magnitude of this great earthquake or prepare yourself for what was about to unfold?

This new land was full of uncertainties and you were a strange, exotic fruit. You were instructed to walk into the vast unknown, so lost and helpless. You could not find your way back home so you backed into the shadows and into hiding, the only safe place you knew was left. And that was the beginning of our separation.

I looked back and saw your silhouette fading. I waved goodbye and like a soldier ready for battle I put on my new American coat (with a brand new name tag stitched to the front), stood up, brushed the dust off and walked off in search of a place I could, one day, belong.

Only it took decades to find solid ground, the home in me. I stumbled and I fell, not knowing when the storms would pass. The kids in school would call me names and throw rocks at me. I swallowed their words. I swallowed my shame and a rage was born in me. I was angry for so long, protecting and defending a softness I was too scared to touch. But I learned many new words and found power in my voice. Finally, my spirit felt solid and strong.

Until one recent day, unexpectedly, a door appeared on the edge of my horizon. My body clenched up and I let out a nervous laugh. Slowly, I opened the door to find you, the little me, sitting on the floor, waiting for the big me to speak. You had been waiting for my return all this time.

My heart stopped. Everything went silent and dark. I knew the truth in my deepest core. All those years ago, I was too scared to take you with me. Oh the shame! So you went quiet. You had to stay back so that I’d learn to find my own footing and anchor, so that a future me would find you years later in these very words. And that’s what scares me about writing: knowing deep down that these words might not be enough to right the wrong. To soothe our stormy waters. To bring you home where you’re loved and where you belong. To fully thank you. To heal us back together.

Humanity Is Our Most Sacred Assignment

humanity1

When we dwell in our lower nature, we are prone to self pity. (We think that) if we are good people then bad things won’t happen to us. We see life as a place where it’s all about survival: life becomes about how long we can survive, who we can survive with, what we need in order to survive and how much? We become takers. It’s not until we get to our higher nature that we transcend from the lower vision and become agents of transformation where we (finally) understand that purpose of life is to use our life, to transform something here. Not to take something. ~ Caroline Myss

There is so much disconnection in our world. Division and suffering hits us once we step out of our door. I close my eyes and ask myself…where does that separation start in me? A reflection slowly sets in. I know that when I don’t feel safe, I want to defend. When I feel attacked, I want to fight back. I don’t want to feel humiliated for being wrong; I want to be right. What is outside of me and what is living inside me has the same root and it starts with a choice: Do I protect myself from chaos and fear by disengaging, feeling powerless with nowhere to go or do I chose to work through this ungrounding with intentionality and love? I recognize that, I too, am complicit in my choices. The time is upon us to pick up our tools and work the soil.

I can work to heal my separation by strengthening practices that reinvigorate my sense of value, worth and power. I can commit to self care and self-healing by working on projects that engage my creativity, that affirm the strength of my spirit and the convictions of my heart, that unearth the deeper ME. But the inner work is not enough. Since we, individually, build up the walls of insanity, it is up to us to start chipping it away by recognizing our shared humanity. To understand that, collectively, we are one living, breathing organism. That we are responsible for each other.  

We share humanity, a bond tied in breath and spirit; this is our starting point. Our breath fuels our lungs while our spirit calls us forth to add our voices to the chorus of collective awakening. We share the seed of love in our hearts and we share core values: we want to be loved, we want to be healthy, we want to be safe and we want to be happy. We must approach the world from this place, from our internal garden of love, if we are to, collectively, create abundance and connection. This is difficult, heart-centered work. This is the work of spirit dressed in human clothing. Saying YES is paving the first stone on the path to oneness, to connection, to finding the lasting cure for separation. We must step into this great assignment with care, humbleness, and our conscience intact.  Otherwise we are active contributors to the separation we experience.

How do I help to heal this collective separation? How do I ask a fellow brother to put down his gun if I don’t put down my own? By engaging in my own healing with his. By being vulnerable and relating to that part in him that appeals to fear. The fear of survival, the resistance to change, the perception that life is scarce, that there isn’t enough of what he needs, that it will be taken away, that he will be made invisible and unworthy of love. I must plant loving seeds wherever possible, even if the possibility of engaging with his heart seems slim. The radical act of love contains all the potential for change. I don’t have to like him but, if I recognize him as a spiritual being having a human experience, I have to love him. I must see the humanity in him by recognizing the fear in him that is also in me. I must practice act of loving kindness, compassion and forgiveness in my own life. I must be there for me so that I can be there for my fallen brother. In this way, humanity is our most sacred of assignments.

We must help each other and tend to the soil that will nourish our tiny seed. We must speak to each other so that this seed can grow into a healthy plant. We must love ourselves and one another so that this plant can grow and extend its powerful branches up and out. We must show up for each other so that our tree can offer us a shady, resting place to sit together.