adventure

Sister, It’s Time.

4626657_origThe first women’s group I started was under the slide at recess, when I was eight years old.
Okay, we weren’t quite women, but we were future women. It was a a dance club, and we had big dreams of performing for the entire school in the cafeteria.
We had it all planned. I’d request a meeting with the principal, and show him what we’d put together. He’d approve it, of course, once he saw our moves. No worries that there was no stage; we’d put a bunch of lunch tables together and make one. Never mind about the safety hazards.
We never got to the principal’s meeting, but we did put together one fun routine, to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.”
It’s a complicated time in our culture, everything is shifting (or crumbling.) The rules have changed. The country’s in peril. As I prepare to march at the State’s capitol this weekend, I think about some of the challenges we face and  this new wave of feminism that we’re experiencing.
I’m grateful for the fights that have been fought by the generations before me. Without them, I wouldn’t have many of the freedoms I have today. Yet, that those freedoms are in jeopardy scares me and I know we’re not done.
For millions of reasons, we’re not done. And I’ll be marching with thousands of those reasons on Saturday.
What I love about today’s new wave of feminism is that we are not backing down from our right to be sexual, sensual women. To express ourselves and our sexuality in ways that suit us.
We are not backing down from our right to dress in ways that please us and turn us on, and this gives no one permission to touch us, disrespect us or shame us. We are declaring, TIME’S UP.
This new wave of feminism is marching with not only our sisters, but our mothers, our daughters and granddaughters. And if we feel like wearing fishnets while we march, so be it.
We’re not turning our backs on the joys of being woman in order to be allowed in some crumbling “boy’s club.” Those days are over.
Old paradigms like rape culture, slut shaming, and patriarchy in general are all crumbling before our eyes. It’s time for us to rise.
We knew thousands of years ago that we had power. We knew thousands of years ago how to gather, how to create sacred space, how to solve communication problems, how to create compromise and how to make magic. We lost our power for a while, it was necessary. The history and herstory of our society needed to be written this way, and now we are remembering. Now we get to write the story.
We’re remembering our power, we’re remembering our magic, we’re remembering that we are royalty and priestesses and goddesses.
We’re remembering that we need each other. We’re remembering that when we come together, we are even more powerful and more magical, and it’s our turn. The world is in desperate need of healing. And we’ve already begun our work.
After that fourth-grade dance club, I’ve started many more women’s groups over the years. There was the first book club I started, in 1999, when I first moved to Dallas and was hungry for connection, and friendship. There was Spark!, a membership-driven community of women I started with together with my partner, Jackie. That’s where I met one of dearest and nearest sister friends, Angela, also known to many as Violet O’Hara.
From there, Angela and I discovered the sexy, body-positive, women-celebrating art form of burlesque. Enthralled and inspired, then came Les Femmes Aplomb! Then came the Burlesque Experience, when group after group of women showed me the staying power of community, and the deep desire and innate gifts we have to support each other and be supported. There was SacredSexyU. BodyLove Affair.
Through all of these communities, all of these women, hundreds and hundreds of women whose lives have intersected with mine, for a season or a lifetime, I have always known this: I am here to connect women. To themselves, and to each other.
I, myself have been different women through these seasons. I’ve been no where close to “perfect.” Sometimes I burn out. Sometimes I need a break. Sometimes I pull back, as I fumble through my humanity, practicing (often by falling on my face) self-protection, boundaries, trust, courage, surrender and the delicate art of walking away gracefully.
Now, it’s time for something new. Now the me I am is intersecting once again with this part of my purpose, and I’m calling you. I’m calling you, my sisters from every corner to join me, because our time has come. Come hither.
My siren’s call is not for wimps. This is not a Girl’s Night Out.
This is a warrior tribe of women who are finally willing to make peace with themselves and each other, so that we can heal one another, ourselves and the planet.
There may be some Girl’s Nights Outs, I’m certainly not opposed.
But sisterhood is far more than happy hour and bottomless mimosas.
It’s more like giving birth, or being born.
It’s more like being held from the inside out, it’s more like dancing through pain or crying together through life’s tragedies.
It’s more like being the mirrors we hold up for each other, when we forget who we are, to say this: YOU ARE EVERYTHING. YOU ARE MAGNIFICENT. YOU ARE POWERFUL. And you can have what you desire.
It’s more like staying when you want to run.
It’s more like saying I SEE YOU. I really, really see you. And you will not scare me away.
My call to you is to show up, exactly as you are, and become part of this dream, this SacredSexy Sisterhood. The world needs us. And we need each other. Everything I’ve done, been and experienced has led me to this.
SacredSexy Sisterhood is ready for you. Are you ready for it?

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?

My Summer of Reinvention & Transformation

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Hey there, friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. And what huge changes my life has been experiencing this summer. You may have noticed and heard some things, I’ve shared some with you already.

I’ve been in reinvention mode this summer, allowing life to unfold, practicing surrender, learning new skills, “retiring” my relentless drive to hustle…  and changing, big time, in the process.

Here’s what’s different about me. As I’ve shared recently, I have made some big decisions to pull back from producing events and group programs, including the Burlesque Experience. I am still life coaching privately, working with several clients, and open to more! Coaching is something I love with a passion and hope to continue well into my golden years. As I grow, heal, shift and change, I also become a better coach. I’ve never loved the work as much as I do now, and I’ve never been this good at it! And I will keep getting better and better, as I continue to study and add skills and experience to my “toolbox.”

I’ve also been working on a new “side-hustle”.. you are not gonna believe this. I just obtained my license to sell life insurance as a part of the Dynamic Insurance Services team. Yep! Can you believe it? ME? A Life Insurance Agent? (I prefer the title Senior Benefits Advocate!) The path has been arduous (including passing a state exam and studying like crazy for the first time in 30 years!) Weeks of training and lots of learning. Lots of “rookie” mistakes and discomfort… and while I still have much to learn, I’m up and running and really enjoying it. This work is fulfilling and rewarding, and the part-time work-from-home hours fit in so well with the lifestyle I desire and the dreams I have for the future. If you need life insurance, let’s talk! (Can you believe I just said that?)

I’m trying to find my writing groove. I have books in me, that want to be written, and I’m coming up against what every single person I coach (and know!) comes up against when they begin to nurture a creative dream: resistance. Yep, I am not exempt or immune. My resistance has a favorite disguise: not enough time. Ideally, I’d love big old blank expanses of time to write, whole days, preferred. What is actually realistic is making time from the small pockets of blank space, an hour here, an hour there. And schedule the occasional writing day or weekend or week. In the meantime, I need to stop making excuses and start writing!

The final semester of the Burlesque Experience has begun, and we are off to an exciting start. I love these women, their courage, their inner and outer beauty, their desire to tap into parts of themselves and commit to themselves in new ways. They inspire me in so many was.

The wrapping up of such an enveloping, exciting part of my life is bittersweet and emotional. I have waves of “what the hell am I doing, letting this go?” yet on another level, I know that the next step of my life, the next chapter of my story, the next level of impact that I long to have in the world requires I create space for it. And so creating space is what I’m doing.

I’ve given myself permission to step back from weekly blogs and emails. I will be blogging and sending my Quickies more sporadically now, I’m allowing myself some slack there. Let’s stay connected.

If you’ve considered working with me as your coach, let’s set up a complimentary Discovery Session so you could get a taste of what it’s like to be supported in this way.

And if not, that’s okay! Either way, I want to hear from you. Let me know what’s going on in your life! What changes have you been making? What resistance are you moving through? What is your life asking of you? While you might be seeing “less” of me, it’s an illusion. I’m still here. I’m more ME than I’ve ever been, and I’d love to keep the conversation going.

It’s still my deepest commitment to be of support, inspiration and encouragement to women, continuing my life’s calling of offering women access to their innate magnificence, power and radiance. Some things have changed, yes. But that never will.

 

 

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?

Resistance: Your Bratty Kid Sister

Angry Asian girl frowning

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?

Have you forgotten? You are a wild one.

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“Wild Women of the Woods” by Nikki Simpson

 

“Underneath it all, we are wild and we know it.”

– Reggie Ray, Buddhist scholar

From the time you were a little child they’ve been trying to tame you.

They told you how to sit, they told you how to behave. They told you what nice girls do and don’t and when you acted wild, they told you that you should be ashamed of yourself.

So you were.

They told you to sit still.

They told you to quiet down.

They told you to play nice and stop being bossy. They told you to not get dirty. To not be naughty.

You learned that if you were gonna get by in this world, your wild animal self would need to be trained in the ways of the world. You acclimated. You adapted. You shut her away.

You’ve spent your life trying to be good. They love you more when you’re good. But when good becomes false, your true self grieves. When playing by the rules becomes sacrificing your heart’s desires, death is slow and secret. You’re smiling on the outside and dying on the inside.

I declare a Reclamation Proclamation on your wild and fiery spirit. I dare you to untame yourself. Just a little bit. Or a lot.

What does that mean? I don’t know! It will be different for all of us.

For some of us the Reclamation will involve a complete purge of objects, relationships, old familiar ways, burning through the old, to grow new from the ash.

For some of us a Reclamation might be as simple as one single NO.

No I won’t be attending the event.

No I will not entertain this damaging thought.

No I will not feel guilty about taking care of myself.

No I will not work for a company that requires the women to wear panty hose every day.
For some of us, the Reclamation will be in the form of a YES.

YES this is what I want.

YES I will swim naked in the moonlight.

YES I will take a lover.

YES I will travel alone.

YES I will do the unthinkable.

Whatever your unthinkable might be.

You might stop shaving your legs, if that suits your fancy. You might go without panties for a week, to see how that changes the way you move and experience the world. You might quit your job. You might leave a marriage. You might start a marriage. You might parachute, para-sail, para-glide. You might release a relationship, renew a promise, set fire to the old. Give birth to the new in you.

Dance. Sing. Scream. Run. Stay. Do the wild thing.

There’s a new movement sweeping the country, thousands of women have stopped shaving their legs. They’re taking pictures, they’re sharing them online. It’s bold, it’s definitely a Reclamation Proclamation of the wild one!

Although I don’t think I’ll be going to such extremes, (only because I don’t feel pulled in that direction, it doesn’t titillate me) I do occasionally allow them to grow unruly because I just don’t feel like shaving and it’s sort of fun to marvel at their prickly stubbly layer of hair that will most certainly grow wild if I let it.

Your wild child is begging you to let her out. She needs to live. She needs to breathe. She needs your respect and adoration.

You do not have to be good.You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. “

– Mary Oliver

Did you get that?

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Your wild one is calling out. Untame your spirit. How might your world change? How does your wild spirit want to reveal herself?

Do something wild. I dare you. Love what you love. Burn what needs to burn. Set fire to your tameness. To your jaded holding back, keeping it down, guarding your heart (as if.)

It’s not working.

You were born to be wild.

 

 

 

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Originally published Summer, 2014. Taking a short break from writing, be back soon!

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

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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!

Rise and Shine

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Yesterday was a dark day, for millions of us. Many of us stayed up the night before watching the dreadful reality happen, electoral vote by electoral vote, state by state. Around one in the morning, I finally gave in to exhaustion and went to bed, overcome with dread, but holding onto hope.  The next morning, I woke at 5:30 am to check the results, in case it had all been a bad dream. It wasn’t.

I know that there are some of you reading this that voted for Trump, and I want you to know love you. I still love you. I’ll keep loving you. I am grateful for you, because I know you are good. I know you have a heart full of love, and I know you want many of the same things for our country, for our families, for our future that I do. We are more alike than we are different, and I thank you for your presence in my life, to remind me that we are in this together. In a climate of “sides” where each so easily villianizes the other, I am looking for our common ground, because of you, because I love you. And I trust love. So thank you.

I told a friend last night the title of this chapter is “who knows?!?” None of us knows how this will play out. None of us can predict what’s ahead. We can choose fear. We can choose worry, more division, more finger pointing, blaming, hating, or we can choose to connect, to unite, we can choose to love. I can’t choose for you. I  can only choose my actions. My thoughts. My responses. You get to choose yours.

I am writing this for those of you who may be feeling, like I was yesterday…

  • Hopeless
  • Terrified
  • Distraught
  • Worried
  • Disappointed
  • Betrayed
  • Angry
  • Sad
  • Despondent
  • Traumatized

There are millions of us. All sharing many of these same feelings as we move into the reality of Trump as President. I was there yesterday. But I cannot live there. I was worried yesterday about my inability to feel hope. I couldn’t access it. But I trusted its return. I don’t know how to live without it. And today, with the rising sun, my hope returned. What about you? Where are you today?

Feel your feelings. Allow them space. Grieve. Rage. Cry. Let those feelings move through you. They want to move through you.

And then, rise.

Rise and shine.

Because here’s the truth: No matter what side you are on, there is only one real side. Humanity. We’re all in it. And humanity needs your light more than ever, right now. The world needs you to stop playing small.

Those of us who voted for Hillary may have lost the election, but we are NOT defeated.

We are only growing stronger. We are only bolder, fiercer.

Our commitments are solidifying, our resolve fortifying, we will protect these rights we have fought so hard for. We will protect each other.

We can no longer play small. We must no longer diminish ourselves. We will no longer dim our light.

So cry your tears and feel your grief, and then, after you’ve cried, and raged, and vented, I implore you. Rise. Rise with me. Shine with me.

Commit with me to never, ever play a smaller part than the role you were cast for. You were cast for greatness. No more smallness. No more bit parts in your own life’s script. You are here to play the starring role in your life. We must not live our lives in fear. We must not let fear win.

We must rise.

We must shine.

The world is watching.  Our children are watching. Our country needs us to rise and shine. We cannot stay down.

Rise and shine.

The time is now.

This is what we came here for. This is not a dress rehearsal. It’s show time.

First we must rise. Rise up out of our defeat, rise up out of our despair, rise up out of our fear.

Then, we must shine. Shine like we have never shone before. Band together, shine like diamonds, shine like the sun, casting warmth, casting light, casting magic. We will use our voices. We will use our gifts. We will use our power. We will create. We will stand. We will not sit down. We are here for great, big things. The time is now.

Rise and shine.

I’ve made a huge decision.

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The word “decide” means, in its barest essence, “to kill.”

Think about it: Matricide. Genocide. Suicide. Homocide.

In order to choose the powerful decisions that will propel our lives, something else has to die.

I’ve made a huge decision, and I want to tell you about it.

But first, a quick back story.

I have spent many years of my career avoiding that thing they call “niche.” Ugh. There was so much that interested and intrigued me! I didn’t want to feel boxed in. I wanted the freedom to create and offer whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And so I did.

I’ve coached and developed programs and facilitated workshops on pretty much all the topics, as they relate to me, to women. If I’m interested or inspired, I create a program. I write a blog. I teach a class.

If it was something I was into, I’d package it and offer it.

This “farm to table” approach to my business has definitely satisfied my craving for variety and freshness, but the plain fact of the matter is this…

I have watered down my own message.

I have watered down my life.

In my efforts to be all things to all women, I have diluted my very essence.

I finally realize, the more I water myself down, the less effective I am, in all areas. It’s time to shift.

What I’m about to share with you is vulnerable, and raw in the way that only deep truth can be. I feel a slight trembling in my stomach while I type. But I want you to know exactly what is going on. I feel like I owe that to you. We owe each other truth.

“The world owes us nothing. We owe each other the world.” – Ani DiFranco

2016 has offered me profound change in my inner world, and in the way I relate to my outer world.

Its also offered me deep, incredible healing opportunities.

And its offered me the chance to actually internalize the offerings I have spent years offering others, specifically around the topic of body image and self-esteem.

Wow, imagine that, huh? Wait, what?

The plain truth was that by diluting myself, I got away from my message, in my own life.

Even though a large part of what I have been doing has been focused on “selling positive body image for a living”, my own body image had become terrible.

See, the path to full-bodied love and acceptance doesn’t end when you get up and strip for a theater full of people. In fact, that’s only the beginning of the work, if you dare continue.

Positive body image was for everybody else, but not for me. Sure, I felt good sometimes, with the right lighting or outfit, but feeling bad about myself and my body was becoming more and more pervasive.

I was withholding from myself the very freedom I celebrated and inspired in others. Yeah, pretty effed up, right? Shameful, even. After all, I wasn’t “supposed” to have these kinds of issues! So I buried them deeply. And they festered.

Over the years, my inner world got dark. My self-esteem continued to sink. The inner chatter became nearly constant and very cruel.

But I discovered a fun and convenient way to shut down those mean voices, right under my nose.

I drank.

Having been a social drinker/weekend party girl all of my adult life, I noticed, without noticing, something cool happened when I was lit.

When under the influence, there were no insecurities, no cruel chatter, for a few hours every couple days, and more hours on the weekends, there was relief. I felt free. But that wasn’t freedom.

I now know, it was the opposite of freedom.

I wasn’t drinking to escape my life. My life was great, after all!

I was drinking to escape myself.

As my drinking began to escalate over the following year or so, so did the repercussions. Lots of hangovers, lots of shame. Lots of pain.

At the end of 2015, I decided to quit alcohol. And can you guess what happened? Yep. Those insecurities I had worked so hard to stifle were right there, waiting for me.

But now, I would finally deal with them, bravely.

Now, I was really ready to tackle this, to heal these patterns and wounds, for me.

This wouldn’t just be something I offered my clients. I would actually turn inward and offer this healing work to my most important client. Me.

And I can say, with humility, pride and deep gratitude, I know what real freedom is now. I’m living it.

It’s a winding path, bumpy at times, but I am 100% committed to staying on it.

Sometimes we have to test ourselves, our commitments. I dabbled this summer with being a “social drinker” again, after several months of abstinence. Yeah, the Great Moderation Experiment.

I decided relatively quickly that I needed to be sober— even better, I would rather be sober. I recommitted to this path. This path is current, it is now. So hot off the press, it’s not even off the press yet.

I am on it, I am in it, working fervently, facing myself in brave ways, examining my beliefs, patterns, triggers and self-talk like never before.

And simultaneously, my work in the world is preparing itself to become the most honest, brilliant and accurate reflection of the work happening within me.

There’s a new incarnation of my business gestating within me.

But first, more healing.

First, more purging, more clearing, more letting go.

First, some deciding. And decide means “to kill.”

As this new chapter of Lisa Carmen, LLC continues to gestate, I prepare, the way a mother does while she waits for the birth of her baby.

Uncertain of exactly what to expect, she is excited, nonetheless. She prepares the nursery. She clears clutter from the home. She nests. She nurtures herself.

And when it’s time to give birth, she knows.

I’m not there yet, but I promise, you will know when I am.

I know this will be the most personal work I have ever offered. I know it will be amazing.

To clear space for this new chapter, I’ve decided to let go of many of the programs and offerings I’ve spent much energy creating and offering.

You’re going to notice some events being canceled. You may notice my offerings lightening on the website and in my weekly Quickies.

I am pulling in my energies. I will no longer water myself down.

Be patient. Be kind. Be excited. Something great is coming.

Here’s what will continue:

  • The Burlesque Experience programs and Unleash Your Inner Bombshell workshops will remain, as is, with more being scheduled. I’m also growing my teaching team this fall, to be equipped to scale and schedule more classes.
  • Monthly Power Circles group coaching will continue through the end of 2016. If you bought a multi-session pass, use it or lose it, baby! (Or receive some credit for future stuff.)
  • My private, one-on-one life coaching programs will continue, exactly as they are, for the time being.
  • I will continue to take on new private clients. Current coaching clients will still have the opportunity to extend/continue after their terms are up.
  • The Embrace film screening is still on.
  • The October Goddess Getaway Retreat is still on! (Can’t wait!)

Pretty much everything else will be cleared away, to create a welcoming space for what’s to come.

This feels terrifying and exciting to share. (Many of you know, I have a word for that- TERRICITED!)

It also feels entirely, completely right.

I trust this stirring. I trust this healing. I trust this journey.

I look forward to our next adventure.

I hope you do, too.

 

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photo by Dee Hill, HAMU by Vivienne Vermuth