2017

The End: Reflections on The Burlesque Experience & Life Itself

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Eight years ago this summer, a number of events and “chance” meetings and connections and sparks and ideas came together in a combustible, most unplanned, unexpected way, and me and my friend Matt (yeah, the Matt I’ve been engaged to for the last five years!) got this crazy hankering to put together a burlesque troupe. Our first Bust-Out was Halloween, 2009. Seven women, including me, performed our first burlesque acts in front of a roaring crowd of 500 at an outdoor party.

It was transformative. It was intoxicating. It was empowering. I wanted more, and I wanted to share that first time, again and again and again with other women.  Thus the Burlesque Experience was hatched from its mama hen, Les Femmes Aplomb. Would women want this? Would they sign up? The sure did and they sure would. Year after year. For seven years, twenty-four Bust-Outs, the Burlesque Experience has brought nearly 300 women to the stage, to strip and dance their choreographed burlesque debut for thousands of cheering fans.

What kind of woman has said yes to the Burlesque Experience? Every kind of woman.

For some women, the Burlesque Experience has been experienced as a stepping stone, a way to move toward bigger dreams of performing or producing professionally. I am touched and inspired by being able to support women and their sparkly dreams in this way.

For many others, the Burlesque Experience has been nothing short of a game-changer. A demarcation of where one chapter ended and another started, the point in their lives where they can look back and say I did that, and I was never the same.  Through their Experience, they accessed their power, they reclaimed their bodies, they made peace with their pain, they discovered their courage, they blew through excuses, and obstacles, and self-imposed limitations. They became unstoppable.

What happens when a woman becomes unstoppable? What happens when a woman falls in love with herself? What happens when a woman allows herself to give and receive support from other women? What happens when a woman gets on stage and performs a striptease for hundreds of people? What happens? Everything.

And by some miracle, or divine assignment, some force that some call the universe, some call love, some call God, I was chosen to do this. It was me who got to guide them to themselves. Me who got to share this with them, me who got to grow with them, celebrate them, love them. Of course, I could not do this alone. This work has been supported by countless women, and men, over the years, alumni, each of them knowing what potent medicine this journey is. They’ve shown up in countless ways. I am grateful beyond measure. And there I go, deflecting again.

See, so many of us, from a very young age are taught not to be “too full of ourselves”. I remember growing up, it actually was looked down on by the other girls if a girl even simply liked herself. If liking yourself got you exiled from the tribe, what else could a girl do, but learn self-loathing? God forbid, she actually love herself. Scandalous.

Growing up, I never heard a woman say “I am proud of myself.” And I think that’s a shame, and I think the Burlesque Experience has smashed that false and crippling humility to bits, one performance at a time. For what is the Burlesque Experience been about if not self-celebration? On this stage we celebrate ourselves. The nerve of us! Who do we think we are!? I have even shied away from praise, when it comes to the Burlesque Experience. It makes me uncomfortable. “It’s not me, it’s something bigger than me.” Yes, and no.

Today, as eleven students prepare to take the Burlesque Experience Bust-Out stage for their first time, and the Burlesque Experience’s last time, as we prepare for our last show tomorrow night, our last curtain call, our last celebratory toast, our last Afterglow Dance Party, I am overwhelmed with emotion, with gratitude, and yes, dare I say? With pride.

I am proud of myself.

We must allow ourselves to be proud of ourselves. Our daughters, our sisters are counting on it. The world is counting on it. There is nothing wrong with a woman celebrating herself. We must stop acting as if there is. Be proud of yourself. Do things that shock you. Be bold. Be brave. Be the kind of woman people say of, “Who does she think she is?” Be YOU.

Most importantly, be in love with yourself.  The world desperately needs women in love with themselves.

My work is not done. The end of this chapter means the start of a new one. I promise to you, my commitment to healing the world, one woman at a time is just getting started. I wonder what my next busting out will be… What will yours be?

The Truth About Your Relentless Inner Critic

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“The day of unfailing, gorgeous confidence isn’t coming.
Self-doubt will always be a part of what we each work with as we take steps to play bigger.”

– Tara Mohr

Sorry to share this dismal news, but guess what? It really isn’t that dismal, I promise. Keep reading!

Almost every client that hires me expresses her desire to possess more confidence. In fact, I do not know a single person without some degree of insecurity and self-doubt, at least some of the time. And the ones that claim otherwise are faking it, I am certain.

Unfortunately, I think some of us imagine a day in the future when we will move through the world with a complete lack of self-doubt, 100% self-assured and self-confident at all times, and remember with a sweet nostalgia, those days gone-by when we used to feel insecure or unsure of ourselves. “But not anymore.”

As Tara tells us above, that day is not coming. There is some good news though, before we take to crying in our coffee and giving up the fight for a confident life of boldness and courage.

Tara goes on to say, in her profound and stirring book, “Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message”

“The name of the game is not eliminating self-doubt. The name of the game is learning how to let the inner critic do its thing, without taking direction from it. The goal is to hear the inner critic’s voice but not let that voice determine your choices.”

See, I cannot and do not promise anyone I coach the erasure or elimination of self-criticism or doubt. But what I do know how you can transform your relationship to it. I’ve done it. But let me clarify, it’s not something that gets “done” and “Bam! All finished! Glad that self-criticizing phase of my life is over!” I wish.

Living a life untethered and undetermined by my self-criticism is an everyday practice. And when I slack, trust me, insecurities and self-doubt flare up like a pain cycle.

And one more zinger I’ll share from Playing Big… “You don’t have to win the argument with your inner critic; you have to step away from the conversation.”

Step away from the conversation.

When we begin to shift our lives from playing small to playing a bigger game, we can bank on and anticipate our inner critic to jump into position, like a sleeping guard that monitors the borders of our comfort zones. Because the Inner Critic is an expression of the safety instinct we each possess. It’s just doing its job. It feels threatened when you leave the safety of your comfort zone.

Our Inner Critic thinks that by relentlessly belittling us, frightening us, reminding us of our supposed flaws and shortcomings that we will stay nice and safe. Fortunately, we can begin to see this ploy for what it is- safety measures.

We can begin to observe the craftiness of our Inner Critic and separate its voice from our truth. We are not the voice.

We can begin to employ tools and techniques that will quiet the voice. Not with violence or anger, but with love and compassion. For real!

So let’s start there, with the noticing. When it turns up its volume, we can even begin to greet our Inner Critic with a certain sense of gratitude, for it surely must mean we are treading outside of the boundaries of our comfort zones, crossing the border from ideas to reality, and we then we can say “Thank you for doing your job. But I got this.” as we boldly move right through it, blowing it a kiss on the way.

 

 

___________________

Originally published September 2015

 

When It’s Time, You Know.

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Change is hard.
Especially big change.
Especially when that change will require us to restructure and redesign our entire lives, will demand that we disappoint, inconvenience or confound others.
I’m in the midst of such a redesign myself, as we speak. As you might or might not know, I made the decision earlier this year to wrap up my seven-year project, the Burlesque Experience, and to transition away from facilitating group events and programs altogether. This coming summer semester will be the very last B.E. session, after twenty-two incredible seasons.
This has been no easy decision.
I love the Burlesque Experience. I love teaching, and hosting and facilitating, and holding space. These aspects of my work have given me immeasurable joy, satisfaction, connection, creative expression, pride, glory, humility, and have taught me so much.
I’ve fallen in love, again and again, with hundreds of brave and gorgeous women I’ve shared my work with over the years.
“I am who I am because of the women I’ve surrounded myself with.” – Salma Hayek
For the last eighteen years or so, I’ve been creating and hosting programs and events for women in Dallas.  For the last couple years, I have been doing some major “inner” renovations. I’m not talking new curtains or throw rugs in there- I’m talking about knocking out walls, foundation repair, restructuring the whole place, room by room. As I’ve been changing, so have my drives, so have my desires. (Well, of course they would.)
One desire that has grown stronger than ever, accompanied by a quickening, an urgency of sorts, is the need to buckle down and write. And what I have recently come to understand is that I cannot create what I want to create when my creative energies are dispersed all over the gosh-darned place.
I described to a friend recently, my life was feeling like watery Kool-Aid. When you water down the Kool-Aid, to stretch it out, everyone gets watery Kool-Aid. I want to be potent. I want to be concentrate. I don’t want to live my life diluted.
The truth didn’t hit me in the head like a lightening bolt. It seeped in, little by little, subtly tossing tiny clues here and there, until the tiny clues became wisdom, became truth.
Until I was ready to acknowledge my truth.
One day, my feelings turned to knowing. My curiosity turned to clarity. I just knew, I was ready to close this chapter.
I had to look hard at all of the elements of my business, my brands, to really get clear about what it is I wanted to keep doing and what it was I wanted to stop doing. I realized I still am very passionate and devoted to my private coaching clients. That is very much alive for me. I feel like I could coach privately for the rest of my life, I love it so much.
And I also knew that in order to tap into the creative energy I needed to do my other work, and explore other aspects of myself, my purpose and my soul’s desire, I had to let go of some things.
I am ready to turn my attention to other desires and dreams. I am ready to shift and evolve into the next version of me.
It’s hard to point at any one reason or circumstance and say “that’s why”, though I’d love to be able to.
See, I love a compelling story. And I usually need one to motivate me to make any important change in my life. Yet one of the things I’m learning is that, in actuality, I don’t require a story to make a decision. I don’t need to explain or justify to others, or to myself, why I’m done with something when I’m done with something.
Something doesn’t have to go bad or fall apart or hit bottom or become painful before I am done. I’ve been there, too, many times.
But not this time. This has been so hard, because I hate disappointing people. But I’m also learning that sometimes choosing for me means you might be let down. Can I be okay with that? I’ll never be a person who “has no fucks to give.” That’s not my style. I have a lot of fucks and I give them freely. I care about what others think. I don’t like hurting people. And I also must choose what’s best for me.
Many years ago, a friend shared with me that the word “decide” actually means “to kill.” This has always stuck with me. Especially when I need to make a decision. Think about it. Genicide. Matricide. Suicide. Homicide…
When we decide what it is we want, what direction we want to go in, who we want to be, something else has to die. No wonder we avoid deciding.
As I move into these new directions, wrapping up one cycle, immersing myself in new endeavors and cultivating new desires, it’s bittersweet, indeed. But I know it’s right. I trust myself.
So what is it that you, my friend, are avoiding? What big change needs to be made? What are you pretending to not know?
It’s scary, sometimes, clarity. Because it requires us to do hard things. I think that’s why we’ve gotten so good at pretending not to have it. I have it now. And I will not pretend.
I’m leaping into the unknown in many ways, letting go of what I know, to explore what I don’t know. I’m willing to let go of feeling like an expert to embrace being a beginner. I’m once again in uncharted territory. It’s bittersweet, terrifying, exhilarating, promising.
What about you?

Somewhere Between

defaultA couple of months ago, I had a dream. In the dream, I was playing the keyboard and making music and experiencing great pleasure. In real life, I didn’t play any instruments. And I woke up with a longing. It wasn’t the first time I’ve longed to make music.
One time, around seventeen years ago, I wrote three songs in one late-night frenzy and worked with musician friends for a couple of pot-fueled nights after that to set them to music. We did, they were great, at least I thought so, though I can’t for the life of me remember any of the three songs. I blame it on the pot. Mostly, I’ve ignored this longing to make music that pops its head into my consciousness every now and then. Not this time, though.
Something has shifted inside of me, where it has become too difficult, too painful, impossible to ignore my longings. Hiding from myself is no longer an option. Denying myself of what I want and need has become unacceptable.
Not every longing is something I need or want to leap into blindly, mind you. Some come and go, like clouds in the sky, changing formation, or dissolving altogether. But I’ve come to believe that every longing deserves my attention, my curiosity, at the very least. And every longing has information for me, a message.
Back to the keyboard dream: That day, I could not stop thinking about playing the keyboard. I kept talking to Matt, my fiance, about it. “Buy a keyboard.” He said, jumping on Amazon to find one immediately. Guys are such problem solvers.
Two days later (thanks, Amazon Prime!) I met my new love, and she has 61 keys. And so, for the last couple months, I’ve been tinkering. I’ve watched tons of tutorials and pounded along on my keys, I have experienced true bliss and even deep meditative states while engaging my new hobby. I literally get high from it. It feels really good to have a new hobby. And I’ve written a couple songs.
It’s with great vulnerability and a little trepidation that I share this one with you. I’m a beginner, I’m teaching myself chords, I know pretty much nothing. I’m no Alicia Keys or Tori Amos. I know that I am at “kindergarten” level as far as skills go.
But I am proud of myself. I’m following a longing. I’m engaging my heart, mind and soul in a new way.
I listened. And that counts for something.
I wrote this song to express where I am right now. Major transitions (more about that next week!) happening in my life have me in a deep state of discomfort and mystery. I’m diving into the unknown. I’m scared. It’s hard to describe where I am right now, except to describe it as “Somewhere Between.” So I did. I hope you enjoy it.
And I’d love for you to ask yourself, is there a longing within you that wants your attention, your curiosity? I challenge you today to turn toward your longing and ask it “What do you want to tell me?”

Do Your Mood Swings Have a Message for You?

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I’ve been noticing something interesting lately. I’ve been starting out my days on a high vibration, fiercely grateful, mindfully approaching every task with presence, joy… All ooey-gooey and overflowing with love. And I move through my day, completing tasks. Or not. Bouncing around from one priority to another. One diversion to another.

And then, at some point, BAM. I crash. I don’t just crash. I plummet. My mood shifts dramatically. I go from “joyous bearer of light” to “bitch on wheels”. Just like that. Or so it seems.

I look at my sweet Facebook posts from the morning and roll my eyes at myself. I think bad thoughts. I make careless mistakes. I’m stressed and tired and off-kilter.

All that overflowing, ooey-gooey love has coagulated and turned into something much less appetizing, viscous and dry. I am hard and closed and cranky. I dislike. I complain. I judge. I worry. I feel overwhelmed and feral. Not fit for human interaction.

What is this shift? Why does it happen? So suddenly it seems, yet maybe if I look closely, not so sudden at all.

For a while I thought it was a sugar crash. Or a hormonal imbalance. Or demon possession.  But today, I’m realizing it’s something way more subtle and insidious. And really, quite simple…

I haven’t checked in with myself.

All tangled up in the doing, going, creating, replying, forwarding, posting, planning, I’ve wandered away from myself.

It makes perfect sense. I start my day with ritual. I make my coffee. I light candles. I journal. I read. I pray. It’s no wonder I’m full of love and light!

And then, little by little, I disconnect from myself, from Source. I forget to check in. I ignore the desire to stretch. I hold my pee for ridiculous lengths of time.

I’ve decided here and now to take up a new daily practice. A simple practice called stopping. Remember lunch hours? I used to have them in corporate America. I kinda miss those.

I will check in. Ask myself what I want, feel and need. I will tune in, jump off the grid for a few minutes. Refuel.  Start my midday the way I start my morning. Wow. What a concept. And why not?  I heard a woman say to another woman who was complaining about her back-breaking busy schedule… “Wow… Who on earth is responsible for treating you that way? Who’s the tyrant that manages your schedule?” Yes, it was sarcastic. In a loving sort of way.

“You get out of balance because you aren’t listening to your inner life, because you aren’t meeting your challenges of your life with any input from the inside. you haven’t given yourself enough time
to know what you think or feel.”

– Jennifer Louden, “Comfort Secrets for Busy Women”

I’m ready to try something new. To restore my balance midday in order to experience more joy.  And this epiphany I am gifted with when I stop to check in with myself.

What shifts or changes are you ready to make? What truth is waiting for you, if you simply check in with yourself?

What if during your next mood swing, you took it as a message from your soul to check in with yourself, to step aside, stop, recalibrate, reset, turn inward?

I’m off to restore and renew now… See you on the other side of my day. Most likely, in a much better mood.

 

 

Desperately Seeking Passion

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“I just want to feel passion… I don’t think I’ve ever felt it.” She said, looking at me with pleading eyes.

At that moment, I wished I had “passion wand” I could wave over my coaching client to instantly imbibe her with the ability to feel the energizing, intoxicating and empowering effects that passion has. But instead, it’s a private quest.

If passion is what we want, and we’re not experiencing it, we must dig, we must get to the bottom of whatever walls we have built that are in the way of the passion we so long to feel.

At lunch with friends, we discuss the waning and wavering currents of passion, of the longing to feel more, to experience more. Without it, we are dry, crusty, dull, like winter skin. The colors of our lives are dimmer, the texture may be smoother (easier to swallow, like oatmeal, or chicken broth), but the flavor is bland and tasteless.

In another conversation with my passion-seeking client, we come upon the topic of how she handles grief, pain, and how she has created a very structured and reliable way to get through any hardship or devastation. “I feel sad for a little while, then I tell myself, okay, that’s enough. It’s a waste of time to spend my energy feeling sad or hurt.” Bam, I realize. We have hit pay-dirt.

When you shut off the valve of feeling “bad” feelings, when you limit yourself as to what emotions you will permit yourself to feel or not feel, and for how long, when you are monitoring and controlling any feelings, you are also limiting your ability to experience the powerful and life-affirming juice that passion provides- extreme joy, intense desire, consuming sensuality, perhaps even mind-blowing orgasms.

When you disallow yourself to feel anything, you disable your ability to fully feel everything.

Imagine having a beautiful, large, crystal blue pool, with a ‘kiddie’ side, where the water is crisp, refreshing and shallow. You can hang out on that side all the time, lounging, floating on a raft, splashing around. But there’s so much more pool for you to enjoy.

Going deep, exploring the width and the depth of your beautiful pool is what makes life exciting and rich. Sure, the shallow end is nice. But you have so much pool to experience.

How do you experience passion? Some of us take new lovers and live for days of stolen moments and melancholic longing. Some of us create art. Some of us channel passion through our heart-centered businesses, or gratifying work. Some of us dance. I think it matters less how you feel it and more so that you feel it. Just feel it.

If you’re not experiencing passion, there is a chance you may have shut off a valve deep in your soul, to protect yourself from feeling painful feelings, and in doing so, you have cut yourself off from your very own life-blood, the power and beauty that passion creates.

You turned off the fuse box. No wonder the house is dark.

It’s also likely you are not plugging into the things that turn you on. Ever go nuts trying to figure out why your lamp won’t turn on, to finally realize it wasn’t plugged in? Or wander around the house flicking light switches when the power is out, and continuing to be surprised that the lights are not going on? Same thing.

Passion is fuel. It’s power. It gets stuff done. It can be intoxicating. It’s the best drug available to wo/mankind. It’s the electricity that lights your life, it gives you vision and courage and might. It flavors all areas of your life and transforms the mundane into artistry, magic, adventure.

If you want to experience more passion, you must do two things:

  1. Ask yourself “what makes me come alive?” and then do more of those things, whenever and where ever you can.
  2. Ask yourself “where in my life have I created a wall between myself and the depths of my feelings? Where have I cut myself off from the range of feeling it all?” Then do the work to deconstruct those walls.

These acts are not for wimps. The second one, especially. But even just one brick taken from that wall will create a path for passion to seep through.

You will feel more. That means the sting of rejection. The enveloping pain of sadness. The fiery fury of rage. Passion is intensity, and you can’t just feel some of the intense feelings. You’ll have to feel them all.

My life without passion is nothing. I don’t want any part of my life shut down or closed off. I don’t want any part of my experience limited by my fear of feeling too much.

It isn’t always easy. But it’s always worth it.

We have so much pool to experience. Let’s experience it all. Let’s dive and swim and play in the deep end. And watch passion come pouring in.

 

 

 

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Originally posted April 2014.

Resistance: Your Bratty Kid Sister

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Here is the plain, strange truth: I’m resistant to pretty much everything.

This includes, but is not limited to: things that are good for me, things that I want to do, things that I waited for, things that I chose, things that I planned, things that light me up and fill my soul, things that I love.

As I’ve spent years talking to women about their resistance, I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I’m not alone, and this is common, really common.

The resistance usually feels like this: UGGGGGGGHHHHHHH. I don’t wannaaaaaaaa. UGH. Do I have to? UGGGGHHH… Dammit.

Familiar? Most of the time, I can move through my resistance, but other times, it has stopped me.

There is a part of our brains whose job is to keep us alive.  Often called our lizard brain, our amygdala  is programmed to keep us alive by keeping us safe, by keeping us the same. Why keep us the same? Because same = safe. If we are not changing, moving, growing, exploring, or risking, nothing bad will happen, right? That’s what Amygdala, we’ll call her Amy for short, believes.

And at the sight or smell of perceived danger, Amy gets to work, often using resistance as a strategy. It’s a quite effective one, after all.

I’ve had two huge breakthroughs recently with resistance and I owe it all to a shift I made in the way I think about my resistance.

Instead of thinking of my resistance as something in front of me, blocking me, something that I need to push through, I moved it over, turned it into something small and predictable next to me, my bratty kid sister, Resistance.

This idea came to me out of nowhere, as many of my best ideas do, while talking with a client, an artist who’d developed quite a resistance to painting, although she is most alive when she paints.

This client is a brilliant artist, yet she hasn’t been making art. For weeks, we have analyzed and dissected her resistance, so that she could understand it and move through it, and made little progress. And then one day recently, the words just popped up and out:

Bring your resistance along, like a bratty kid sister.

We often think we need to move through our resistance and this daunting task actually keeps us stuck.

What if instead of moving through it, we took Resistance’s hand and moved her to our side, to walk with us?

What if we brought her along, knowing she was part of us, part of the experience, not the enemy, not something to annihilate, but more of a traveling partner? A sidekick? Very vocal, but no longer in power. One that might whine and complain the entire time, sure.

So what.

Once my client moved her resistance from in front of her to the side of her, guess what? Guess who spent the weekend painting? My brilliant artist client, that’s who.

I’ve been practicing this myself, thinking of my resistance as my bratty kid sister, and wow… what a difference.

I never had a bratty kid sister, but as a girl, I remember having friends with bratty kid sisters, and we were often “stuck” hanging out with them. And we did not let them stop us. We still managed to have fun.

What if you just acknowledged the fact that your bratty kid sister, Resistance, is coming along for the ride?

What if you just took her with you, because you have a life to live, you have risks to take and experiences to experience?

You came here for the ride. For the risk. For the adventure. For the experiences.

Within the last two weeks, I have moved my resistance to the side. My bratty kid sister is no longer in the way, she’s along for the ride.

I have taken up learning the piano, after years of telling myself “it was too late” to learn an instrument.

I have returned to writing fiction and started writing a novel, after years of telling myself writing fiction was not a noble or important enough way to spend my time.

And my muse has been responding. I am inspired and ignited and feeling more creative and joyful than I have in a very long time.

Trust your bratty kid sister, resistance to show up, to be there with you. Don’t let her block you anymore.

Take her hand, move her aside and bring her along for the ride.

Might as well, right? It’s way more fun than staying stuck.

Reality Check

ac11b59841a3ae3e0c1cb460ccc05585“Vacation was wonderful, but now it’s back to reality.”

 “Lately, I just want to escape the real world and curl up with a book, in my jammies with my kitty.”

“I’m having a challenge returning to reality after the glitter and glamour of the Burlesque Experience…”

I’ve heard all three of these statements, in the last few days, in fact, from three different people. One of those people was me.

We all know this feeling, this reluctance or resistance to “return to reality”.

Life gives us those temporary shining, sparkling respites, that take us out of the mundane, out of the routines and duties and obligations, and give us transcendence, ecstasy, bliss, or just simply relaxation.

And then, ho hum, back to reality we go, sheepishly, begrudgingly.

Well, I’d like to turn that thought-process on its head, by offering a new perspective.

You aren’t escaping reality with your relaxing weekends, your transcendent experiences, your vacations and blissful days off.

You’re expanding it.

What if we stopped the polarizing thinking of “reality” as the chores, the mundane, the routine, and those transcendent, fully-engaged, joyful experiences as being outside of reality?

What if instead we chose to embrace it all as one great big, luscious, multi-faceted range of reality?

What would happen?

Something would shift.

And when it does, it’s really beautiful.

Vacation-Return-HomeI had this experience the other day myself, driving home with my fiancé, from our weekend getaway in the country, that feeling of “returning to reality” came over me, and with it, a sadness, a reluctance, and then a quiet voice whispered from my heart, “it’s all reality.” And then, suddenly, my reality expanded.

That, too… that glorious weekend experience of rest and relaxation, connecting with nature, with myself, painting, drawing, reading, doing or not doing whatever I chose, that was reality, too.

Of course it was! I didn’t imagine it.

How insulted and offended these rich, meaningful experience and moments must be, to be left out and excluded from what we consider reality! “Wow, thanks a lot! I gave you so much! Well, it was real for me! Pffft!”

Silly to think about, I know, but do you get what I’m saying here?

What if we chose to widen reality, to include more moments and experiences of ecstasy and bliss, even within the folds and creases of everyday life, rather than escape it?

What if we widened our reality so much that in these moments and experiences, we aren’t escaping anything, but enriching it?

Reality, after all, is what we decide for it to be.

Is your reality a relentless pushing, striving and doing, loaded with obligations and duties and responsibilities and roles to fulfill?

Can what you perceive to be reality include transcendence, connection, relaxation and retreat, instead of excluding it?

Visualize it on paper. On the left is the “real world”. On the right is all that other stuff, the activities and events and moments you lose yourself in, when and where and how you get charged and refueled and realigned. Yours might include vacationing or travel, creative endeavors, relaxing activities, connection, socializing, time off.

Next, take your imagination’s pen and draw a big circle around it all, and call it reality.

What shifts with this simple expansion?

And how can you enlarge and widen and deepen your current experience of reality, every day?

Gasp… dare I say, in every moment?

My reality is wide, and deep, and rich, and includes all of it. The duties and the getaways. The challenges and the ease. The doing and the being. The scheduled routines and the loose, lazy, unstructured respites.

We can’t vacation all the time. Well, most of us can’t. But how can we create the feelings and sensations of vacationing in our day to day lives? The truth of the matter is, it’s those feelings we’re after.

What if we made these respites and retreats and moments outside of the ordinary every day a priority, committing to them with the same fervor we commit to being responsible?

We are responsible for our reality, right?

Our longing for magic and the opportunities to satisfy this longing exist at every turn, in every one of life’s pockets.  Sometimes they’re obvious, a week on a beach, for example. Other times, they’re hidden, quietly present, tucked in, needing only for you to discover them, claim them, and make them a priority of your reality. A big reality, one that includes all of it.reality

A reality as expanded as this needs your conscious design. Your deliberate intention. With it, reality expands, just like that.

And when reality is this wide and expansive, there is no more need to escape it.

Of course, there is the mind-numbing paradox of possibility that none of this at all is reality, that it’s all a dream, but maybe that’s for another blog. For today, let’s just say, if it’s happening, it’s reality.

It’s all reality.

What will you make of yours today?

If you’re waiting until you’re “ready”…

gray_waiting_style_model_girl_beauty_alone_hd-wallpaper-1652236-1024x822

I want to tell you today, you will never be ready.
There will never be a perfect time.

That dream you have, you know the one I’m talking about, has been patient, that longing has persisted, yet there are still so many hurdles, so many shifts, so many decisions and actions and tasks and choices that will need to be made before you’re ready, or so you say.

And so the waiting continues. The dream may persist, or it may even get put on a shelf, growing dusty and forgotten, and you’ll find other things, so many other things, to distract yourself with.  There’s work, of course. Family, friends, commitments, car repairs, house repairs, moving, changing jobs, getting married or getting divorced, raising kids, and let’s not forget the PTA.

You’re just not ready yet.

Or perhaps you’re waiting until you get the confidence, feel brave enough, get strong enough, lose the weight, “get your shit together”, get the braces on or off, have the right computer, or the right software, “figure out the details” or find a new excuse… It’s just not time yet.

Is your dream persisting? Or has it ducked into the shadows, neglected and tired?

Your days of playing small are numbered.

You feel it, you know it. But you don’t know where to start. It’s daunting and terrifying, taking a dream, an invisible, intangible idea and pushing it into reality where it becomes a living, breathing extension of you.

So the excuses come in handy. And oh, they are abundant, aren’t they?

Like a box of tissues, you can pull out one, and there will be another one waiting right behind it.

Whatever your excuses are for not doing your dream, I’ve heard them all before. And I’ve also seen them smashed to smithereens by one thing and one thing only: Action.

Make one choice today. Just one little choice. Begin to move. Let your dream seduce you, engage you. Brainstorm. Take notes. Doodle your dream. Tell someone. Buy a domain. Schedule that meeting.

Something.

Anything.

Action.

I want to tell you today, you will never be ready.

There will never be a perfect time.

The only time is now.

You owe it to your dream. Your dream is your duty.

It is not an accident that you are the one that wants what you want.

You are the one with that particular fantasy. With that particular desire.

And guess what? You are also the one with the exact set of experiences, talents and abilities to make your dream happen.

It is not an accident it’s yours.

It chose you.

Now choose it back.

 

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Originally published September, 2015. Busy getting ready for tomorrow’s Burlesque Experience Bust-Out! See you there!

A Real Pain in the Ass

ASS-PAINI woke up this Tuesday morning, stepped out of bed, and within my first couple steps, I was staggering in breath-taking pain. WTF. Sharp, intense, shooting up my back and down my leg, and centralized in my ass, right side, this pain has made a rude and unexpected appearance back in my life.

I am immediately filled with anger, resistance.

NOT NOW. NOT welcome. NOT okay. TOO BUSY. Too much going on. I immediately began my hip and back stretches, Matt helping me, though it hurt like hell and some stretches literally were impossible.

May I repeat, WTF.

See, this sciatica and I have a long history together, but so much time had passed, three or four years, and while I am always in some level of daily pain and soreness in my back and hips, not like this.

NOPE. I’m not having it. I resisted. I complained. I argued. I felt disappointed in my body.

Here’s the worst part. I felt betrayed by my body. As you may know, body acceptance, embodiment practices, body awareness, they’ve been my thing lately, and me and my body, we have a love affair going on. So more WTFs. I’m not pleased with this, not one bit.

All day Tuesday, all day Wednesday, going through the whys, through the questions, What have I done to bring this on? Why now? What’s the lesson? What’s the message? WHY? WHY? WHY?

Thinking of my calendar, my life ahead, remembering how a few years ago, this situation was chronic, for many, many months, and it shut my whole life down, so now, I’m scared on top of everything else. The implications. I can’t stop working. Fear, anger and disappointment, more resistance, all creating a mad, spiraling tail spin.

And then one of my dearest friends, my truth-telling sister Angela chats me up on Facebook. I tell her I might need to cancel her birthday date night tomorrow. It’s too painful to sit, drive, stand, move. She sympathizes, gives me love, asks what she can do and encourages me to ask for prayers and healing energy from my support system. (I’m asking for them now, please. Whatever you’re into, whatever you believe in, I’ll take whatever you can spare!)

Then, she helps me remember how futile resistance is, and how surrender is always a better choice. As a7LdaP9Fzr-8stubborn as I am, as difficult surrender can feel at times, it’s always the best choice. Because here I am, in a vicious, unexpected pain cycle. YOU ARE HERE, the mall map of my life would point with a big red X, right here, in this pain.

Today, in my morning reading of “A Year of Conscious Living” daily meditations book by Gay Hendricks, wouldn’t you know it? The entry for today is about physical pain. About resisting and surrendering, and I’m stunned. I feel held, seen, cared for by the Divine. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Shaking my head at divine perfection and the way we get what we need, exactly when we need it, I read these words…

“I know what to do now. Stop resisting the pain. Flow with it instead of fighting or fleeing from it. Just breathe. Just flow.”

And now, I remind myself, I don’t have to know “WHY.” I can just be with what is.

I have two choices here. I can focus my energy on being with myself, taking care of myself, tending to this uninvited guest like a good host. Or I can resist.

So I treat myself tenderly, giving myself the utmost attention and care. I immediately begin doing the things I’ve learned to do, through trial and error a few years ago. I’ve earned this wisdom through pain. I trust these practices. I do the things that help.  I clear space on my calendar, to make time for rest and recovery, to make a welcoming place for this surprise guest.

I feel the surrender, as it shifts from resistance, and it feels like freedom.

It feels spacious and loving, and I can feel restoration already happening within me.

If there is a lesson for me here, it’s surrender.

If there is a message here, it’s tend to yourself.

There is no need to find fault or blame. My body hasn’t betrayed me. This pain is a set of responses, facts and data, signals. My body is not at fault. She is hurting.

My body is loving me through this. Can I offer her the same?

So with my breath, I return to flow. Even with this pain, I return to my BodyLove Affair. Is this pain an invitation to love my body better? Ohhh… Well then. So shall it be.

I will love my body better.

I will love her through this.

I am on her side.