allowing

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.

The Pretending is Killing Us

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Artwork credit: Hozier “Arsonist’s Lullaby” record art
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.”
– M. Scott Peck

There is a certain sadness in us all…

We walk around in our day to day lives, pretending it isn’t there, doing what we need to do to move through our routines and rituals, duties and motion, but it’s there. Hovering just beneath the surface, like a thin grey fog. Or a thick black cloud. A sadness that could bring us to our knees, if we let it.

There is a certain emptiness in us all…

We all walk around, trying to fill it, trying to cover it, this void, this hollow ache. We give and take from one another some temporary relief, in our smiles, and touches, in our words and hugs and presence, and orgasms and comedy and gossip and cigarettes, but it never goes away. We find other ways to fill the hollow, some so dark we don’t even talk about them. And the hollow is a vacuum, and we are always hungry there, in that spot. We are always empty, in that spot.

There is a certain devastation in us all…

The pain of what we have lost, the pain of what we never had, the pain that was inflicted upon us, leaving internal bleeding, we are permanently bleeding, the pain of what we turn our heads away from, the pain is too big, we can’t look directly at it. Like the sun in an eclipse, it will cause our eyes to singe. So we smile, we pretend, we work so hard to be okay. I’m okay. You’re okay. Okay?

There is a certain terror in us all…

Mine shows up in dreams. Last night, in my dreams, my only daughter was shot nine times by a drive-by shooter. We were all shot. We survived, but we were injured, and traumatized. I woke up terrified, I put my terror away so I could get out of bed.

Isn’t this what we all do, every single day? We put our terror away, so we can get out of bed?

We work so hard to be okay, to seem okay, to resist the ache, the sadness, the devastation, the pain, avoiding the intense sting of the burning sun of our humanity, our aching hearts.  Too bright, too intense to experience it directly, so we cover our eyes, we cover our pain, we bury. We stifle. We hide. We numb. We lie. We smile.  We do what we do to survive.

And sometimes, we are brave enough to share it. To unbutton our shirts and show our bleeding, aching, pulsing hearts, and sometimes the one we show it to then unbuttons their shirt and shows us their ache.

Sometimes we meet in the shadows and whisper “me too.”

If you tell me you don’t sometimes struggle with pain like this, if you tell me your thoughts are all so positive all the time and that’s why you’re just so successful, I will think you to be hiding. And I won’t believe you.

At the very least, I will not trust you.

Perfect people cannot be trusted.

If you tell me I am wrong for allowing the darkness to come over me, that I am wrong for sharing with my readers that, “Yeah. Me too.” because somehow it will diminish my shiny persona or murk my message with reality (oh no!) I will tell you fuck off.

We do more damage to one another by pretending.

We cause more pain to ourselves by pretending the pain isn’t there.

We’re all walking around with a certain sadness, devastated, with our wounds, our triggers, our aches. Maybe you’ve gotten really good at hiding. There are no awards here for the best actor.

Find someone to whisper your shadows to. Find a way to tell the truth. Find a way to expose your reality. Find a way to say “I’m in pain.” Find the ones who deserve to hold you in your grief. Find a way to show us your blood. Your tears. Your reality.

The pretending is killing us.

I will not pretend in order to protect the veneer. The veneer is suffocating and toxic. The veneer has been peeling for a long time anyway. I’m cracking open, I’ve peeled so much away, and I want you to see what’s real, what’s true, and I want that from you.

Don’t give me perfect. Give me real.

I commit to doing the same.

That is how we will survive this common ache, this collective pain, these private wounds, these lonely devastations.

That is how we will get through.

The Stupid, Terrible Choices of the People We Love

drunk-lady

One late, balmy night this past summer, I’m on the phone with my little brother, my brilliant and very gifted and very drunk brother. He’s a thousand miles away, literally and figuratively. He has struggled with alcoholism for half of his life, he is crying. He is bottoming, though at the time, I’m worried it’s the end. He’s talking like it is. I am terrified.

I plead with him. I know he can’t go on this way, it’s gone too far, it’s gone on too long. His body is tired. His soul is tired.

“This is not your path.” I sob to him. “God wants something better for you.”

“How do you know my path?” He seethes, half slurring, half yelling at me. “You don’t know what God wants! Who do you think you are?”

His words feel like a sock to my stomach, they take the wind out of me. Because they’re true.

I know what I want, of course. I want him to be happy. I want him to conquer this disease and experience a life of healing and wholeness. I want him alive.

But how can I, for one minute, ever pretend to know what someone’s path is?

And can I open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, this actually is his path?

How arrogant of me to think for one second that I know what is “best” for anyone.

To differentiate my opinions from “what is best” is a lesson I have learned, again and again, the hard way.

And sometimes, I learn it in a miraculous way. As of this writing, my brother is several months (sober date 9.2.16!) into his recovery. He is connected to a sober community, creating a new life, with new aspirations, supporting other addicts, after we weren’t sure he would make it out that time. He made it out. He’s fighting the fight, one day at a time.

An addict may need to bottom before they can rise from the ashes. And we need our missteps, bad choices and mistakes to find our way. In fact, our missteps, bad choices and mistakes ARE our way. This goes for others, too.

Even when we think we know what’s best for them.

When we think the ones we love have wandered from their paths, it behooves us to consider that this is exactly their path.

It’s something I have to remind myself of, over and over again, especially in my work as a life coach. And as a human being.

It’s not an easy pill to swallow, when ideally, I’d love to see everyone I love and care about happy and “fulfilling their potential”, a phrase I’m growing a little leery of, truthfully. Do we ever fulfill our potential? CAN we ever?

I have big, exciting visions for the people I care about, picturing what I think is their best, what I think they deserve, what I think they can achieve, what I think they should do.

Ah yes, a loving kind of arrogance, but arrogance nonetheless.

A friend writes me, frustrated and broken-hearted that her best friend has again fallen for Mr. Wrong. This time, she’s ended up penniless and homeless after he booted her out unexpectedly. “She is so lost. It’s killing me.”

A client laments over the poor choices of her young adult son, destined, she’s certain, for a life of tragic tales. He just got fired from his job for copping an attitude. He’s smoking too much weed. His girlfriend is under-age. He’s headed down a frightening path, and my client doesn’t know what to do. “He’s my baby.” She cries. Yes, he’s twenty-seven. But he’ll always be her baby.

My response is probably not what they want to hear.

Can you trust that this is their path?

Can you believe that Life is smarter than you?

Are you willing to surrender the idea that you know what is best?

It’s hard to watch people we care about fumble, and ache, and fall, and fail. It’s painful, heartbreaking, even devastating, at times.

We can choose to love them, hold them in prayer. Help, when and how we can. Show up ready to work when they’re ready for change.

But we must be cautious when we find ourselves thinking we know what is best for them. That’s our own agenda. And who are we? And what do we know?

What we think is best may be very, very different of what they came here to experience.

Let’s stop pretending we know, in this great mystery called Life, what is best for anyone.

Our opportunity here is to practice trust. To love without conditions. To take care of ourselves.

Our invitation here is to practice surrender. Again and again.

And yet, isn’t it always?

More, Please.

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Show me a hundred people and I bet I can show you 95 of them or so who will say 2016 has been a rough one. It came with its blessings and gifts, of course, but it also brought a seemingly higher proportion of loss, tragedy, difficulties, and pain than your average year. At times, it’s been brutal. And it’s ending.

I am ready to kiss this year good-bye.

I am ready to make some new commitments and strengthen the ones I have in place.

I am ready to be more, have more and feel more of what I want to feel.

I’ve decided. I want this brand new, shining year ahead to be My Year of More.

What about you?

There is much to kiss goodbye to as we wrap up this year.

And so much to experience more of.

I’m done with New Year’s Resolutions that feel forceful, like what I should be wanting or doing. Research shows us, they don’t work.

I’m done with New Year’s Resolutions that come from anywhere outside of me.

I’m actually done with the term “New Year’s Resolutions” altogether. I’m tapping into something different this year. My own, innate, personalized More-Core.

You have one, too. Deep within you, there lives a blueprint of what you truly desire, a solid and totally-unique, totally-YOURS, set of desires that point you in the direction of More.

You don’t have to search for it. It’s already there. You just have to turn to it.

Here’s how to access your More-Core. Grab a pen and paper. Answer these questions:

  1. What feelings do I want to feel more of?
  2. What experiences would support me in cultivating more of these feelings?
  3. What activities, choices, practices or people would support me in cultivating more of these feelings?
  4. What would I need less of, in order to create space for more?

And then, it begins. Once you get clear about what you want, you can’t unknow it.

Here are two misconceptions about wanting more that I come across often…

  • If I want more, it means I am dissatisfied with what I have, and what I have is enough.
  • It’s greedy, ungrateful or selfish to want more. I should concentrate on being content, instead.

It is possible to be grateful and content while wanting more. In fact, it’s imperative to our well-being to acknowledge and tend to our desires. Desire is fuel. Desire is guidance for your journey. Desire is data. And wanting more does not diminish gratitude! It’s quite possible (and a yummy place to live!) to be in both desire and gratitude. One does not cancel out the other. In fact, it’s our denying our desires that gets us into trouble.

You can love your life and want more. (I blogged about this very thing last year.)

Go on, want MORE. I dare you.

Find a buddy, a coach, a group, for accountability, for support, for love as you manifest MORE this year.

You do not have to be anything you aren’t. This isn’t about becoming someone else.

Let 2017 be the year you become MORE of who you are, the year you grace the world with MORE of what you are here to express, and experience MORE of what it is you want.

What do you say?

Ready for more? I know I am.

 

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I Got My Feelings Hurt

Sometimes my storyteller is six years old.
Sometimes my storyteller is six years old.

It happens to all of us. It happened to me.

I had planned a home party for a line of adult products, and invited pretty much every DFW woman I thought might be interested– 300+ to be exact.

I created this picture in my mind of what the party would be. Full house, lots of laughter, lots of girl-time connection, juicy conversations about sexuality and pleasure, and of course, toys! RSVPs showed 16 yeses. And 40 maybes! Nice!

For what I realize are reasons that have nothing to do with me, a very small handful of women came. Not counting me and the consultant, I had five others show up. Five others who I gratefully enjoyed seeing, and felt a love and appreciation for, no doubt. But simultaneously, I found myself missing the other eleven who had counted themselves a yes, and for whatever reason, did not show up. And all those maybes… I thought at least a couple of them would actualize into yes.

The big girl part of me listed possible reasons, and again, those reasons had nothing to do with me. I live a ways out of Dallas now, it’s a Thursday, I had rescheduled once, not everyone like sex toy parties, yada yada.

Yet, the little girl part of me was hurt, sad and in her hurt feelings kept whispering: Nobody actually likes me.

There were parts of me that were hell-bent on making it mean something about me, that something was wrong with me.

The mean critical aspect of me was saying: What a fucking disaster. Aren’t you embarrassed? You thought you had friends. And you made way too much sangria.

The dark shadowy part of me that lurks, eagerly waiting for moments like this to pounce, whispered sardonically: LOSER.

On a realistic plane, I KNEW these thoughts were not true. I know I am loved, that I have friends, that it was not a personal thing. I know the facts.

But I’m not necessarily talking about facts today. I’m talking about feelings.

Sometimes what we KNOW and what we FEEL are two different things. Sometimes we attach made-up stories to the feelings we feel. Sometimes we even tell ourselves lies to support our hurt feelings. (Gasp! Who would do that? Raises hand.) And most of the time, those stories can be traced back many years, and are rooted in very old wounds, experienced by a very young self.

I pushed away my hurt feelings, “knowing” they were unreasonable. I cleaned up. I went to bed. Yet the next morning I woke up feeling residual hurt. I journaled, working to talk myself out of these unreasonable feelings.

And then, Facebook chatting with one of my best friends, Angela, she asked “How was the party?”

I began typing my reply and BAM, just like that, the tears came. They came fast and hard, falling steadily from my eyes from some ancient place, and my first reaction was to stop them and shove them back up in there, because this is silly. Because I think these feelings are “unreasonable.”

I told her that I felt silly, but that my wounded-child was hurt.

Before I continue, let me tell you something about Angela. Angela and I have been friends for about a dozen years. She is one of the bravest women I know. Since a tsunami of traumatic life events in December of last year, she has been in rebuild-phase and been working her ass off to heal, to get better, to re-wire, to re-construct, to stay present, to feel it all. She’s been to hell and back, and aside from that, she knows me better than most.

This chick knows a thing or two about triggers and core wounds and she replied… “Of course. This is one of your core wounds, correct?”

“Yes.” I went on to explain that I know that I have this tendency to catastrophize, and I am famous for my ‘goldfish-memory’ (I only remember the last six minutes of my life. So, if they’ve been great six minutes, wonderful! If not, well… ugh. My entire life is shit and everything sucks.)

“I feel silly.” I said.

And she said…

“Try to replace feeling silly with being compassionate with yourself. These are deep, real wounds you are dealing with, and when they are triggered, our reactions aren’t necessarily rational.”

Her words felt like salve, soothing and cool on my owie.

I already KNOW this- I preach compassion and curiosity for a living, for cripe’s sake!

But there I was, completely forgetting to direct curiosity and compassion toward myself. Instead I lashed out judgment, even mockery toward myself for my feelings.

Thankful for this reminder, I exhaled.

I turned within and softened my gaze. I saw her, little me in there, sad and rejected, and I went to her. I let her crawl onto my lap. I let her feel.

Resisting our feelings does not work.

Judging ourselves for our feelings does not work.

Feeling bad about feeling bad is a double layered shit sandwich that just does not serve us.

Thank you, Angela, for reminding me to return to compassion. Reminding me to allow myself to feel. Caught up in my own loop of feelings and judgment about the feelings, I couldn’t remember to do this. I needed a friend to remind me.

Once felt, the feelings dissolved like vapor.

They just wanted to be felt.

Is there a feeling you’ve been judging yourself for? Is there an emotion you think is silly or unreasonable and you try to chase it away?

Turn to it. It’s a precious part of you. Let it feel. Create a safe space for it, and watch what happens next…

Healing happens.

 

 

Can you be with this feeling?

by Jordan_K, ©photographer reserves all rights
by Jordan_K, ©photographer reserves all rights

Can you be with this feeling?

This is the question I hear, in my mind, in this moment, when I am in a lousy, cranky, hormonal, bitch-on-wheels mood. The sun is shining, it’s a perfect afternoon, there is much to be grateful for, I know. But sometimes crankiness happens. I don’t like it. I want relief. I want to escape this feeling.

Can you be with this feeling?

The inner voice asks again. I prefer being happy, of course. But what if I surrendered to this crankiness. I did have a terrible night’s sleep. My back aches, my head hurts, my moon storm is in full force, and I decide, in this moment, yes. Yes, I will be with this feeling.

It will not destroy me. It will not last. I will not get swallowed.

Yes, I am always at choice. And in this moment, I choose to be with this feeling.

I have spent years of my life trying to escape unpleasant feelings. Fight, flight or freeze. That is our human condition, after all. And in this moment, I embrace my humanity and allow this feeling to be what it is. A feeling inside of me. I am not the boat, battered on the waves of an angry, restless ocean. Can I be the angry, restless ocean, in this moment? Yes. I can.

I, like most people, find it easiest to be present when things feel good, when I feel good. I have no trouble being present for joy, bliss, peace. Easy-peasy! The real practice of presence becomes a true practice when I can become fully present to those “other” feelings, the ones that live on the opposite side of my wide and vast emotional landscape. I will not die. I will not be swallowed.

I am the ocean, not the boat.

I become present to the sensations in my body. Some unpleasant. I notice and observe what is happening now. The sun is warming my body, as I sit on my breezy balcony, typing away, noticing the warmth of the sun on my skin. Noticing the aching in my head. In my body. Noticing. Being present to what is. There is nothing else, after all, except what is.

When your darker moments come, can you stay with your feelings?

Can you not abandon yourself in attempts to feel something different?

Can you be a safe place for every feeling?

Even the unsavory ones?

I am learning how.

My busy mind wants to label, identify, sort, find cause, pinpoint reasons, organize, define, correct.

My spirit says “relax into the now.”

I consider what I can trust:

I trust in the temporal nature of all feelings. I trust that this will pass. I trust that I am safe. I trust that I can be gentle and kind and avoid the desire to flee this feeling.

I trust in the larger, more broad perspective. I trust that this is not “who” or “what” I am. This is simply a feeling. Who I am is larger, much larger, than any feeling.

Oddly enough, miraculously enough, when I surrender to what is, when I allow myself to be present to this very moment, something starts to shift, subtle and small, something starts to lift, and I am reminded that even the darkest storms eventually dissolve and pass.

It is the dark that defines the light. How can I know pleasure, if I never knew pain? How can I know peace, if I never knew unrest? How can I know joy, if I never knew this funk? Is it not then a gift, an odd one, in strange wrapping?

I unwrap.

Yes. I can be with this feeling.

 

 

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Originally published October, 2013.

To Be with Our Emptiness

Photo by Dee Hill
Photo by Dee Hill

We are, each of us, introduced to our emptiness at some point in our lives. Some of us come into contact with it as children, some of us as adults. But at some point, we begin to notice it, feel it.

It aches deep within us, constantly, this void. Sometimes we barely even notice it, as we spend our days focused on frenetically filling it, and oh, do we try to fill it with all kinds of things.  Over the years, I’ve tried in so many ways. With relationships, work, focusing on others, with sex, shopping, shoplifting, cigarettes, TV, with drugs, alcohol, religion and God. 500 piece jigsaw puzzles, even for a while.

Since I’ve been sober for nearly six months, I’ve noticed this emptiness pop up with increasing frequency. Of course it does, I have far fewer places to hide.

For me, it feels like a deep itch, like a gnawing, gaping vacuum under my heart, above my belly, and it rumbles in a low growl, like a motor. What do I fill it with? I don’t like it. I’m not comfortable with it. It’s like when you have a rash and they tell you not to itch and all you want to do is itch.

Talking about it over lunch with a dear friend yesterday, she resonated immediately. “It feels like… a burning hollowness.” she said.

Yes. That.

It calls to me and feels like want. What do I want? I ask myself. What do I need right now? More coffee? Another cigarette? An orgasm? To get loaded? To fuck? To take a nap? To take a walk? The wanting tugs at me, like a persistent toddler.

Fill me, it says.

I asked another friend about her emptiness over coffee. With twelve years of recovery under her belt, she knew exactly what I was referring to.

“In recovery, we call that a God-shaped hole.”

Yes. It made sense at first. But then I thought more about it. I have a rich spiritual practice. I write and talk to God every day. I practice gratitude, and mindfulness, and I feel supported and loved by something greater than me all the time. I listen to spiritual podcasts.  I read spiritual books. I journal. I color mandalas. I feel like the Divine and I are pretty tight. I think calling it a God-shaped hole may be simplifying it. For it implies then, that a god-shaped hole can be filled with God. Problem solved. Oh, still have the hole? Just pour in more God.

I am beginning to see thing differently. And for me, it’s a pretty radical concept.

It started as an epiphany, as a question I asked myself.

What if the hole, the itch, the emptiness, the sweet ache of being alive is not meant to be filled, but is meant to remain empty?

That is what I now believe. I’ve come to realize is that this emptiness isn’t meant to be filled. It’s meant to be lived with.

And learning to live with this emptiness – teacher and poet Mark Nepo calls it “the sweet ache of being alive”—is the most challenging inner work I have done.

What does this emptiness want from us? Only our companionship.

Because when we leave this emptiness and allow It to just be, when we sit with it, breathe into it, and learn to simply be with it, it turns into our depth, our vastness.

It will sometimes take all our might, but we truly can shift the urge to fill it into a practice of just being with it. I’ve been working with this practice lately.

If we sit with it, with curiosity, with a welcoming spirit, even if that welcoming spirit is a reluctant welcoming spirit, we realize the hole doesn’t need filling at all. This white space, this deep hollow becomes a portal and through it, in it, we free-fall into the depth and spaciousness of our own being. Our limitless spirit. The emptiness is the portal through our humanity and into our divinity.

What would happen if we just dove in?

We become one with the hole and it doesn’t swallow us. It only reveals to us our vastness, our infinite capacity for everything, our sweet, vulnerable ache that doesn’t need anything except our company.

This is a new concept for me, I reiterate. And when I remember to practice it, when that itch, that familiar, uncomfortable yearning for that mysterious anything, that un-nameable something, that persistent toddler of want, tugging at me, saying fill me, fill me, arises, I am learning to turn my attention to it, instead of blindly, unconsciously numbing out.

I turn my attention to it and say “hi.”

 

 

Undress Your Desires

There was a time in my life when I wanted nothing more than a pair of designer jeans.

I’m talking deep, red hot, burning desire.

I’m talking my whole-life-will-change-when-I-get-these-jeans desire.

I’m talking my life– my real life—will finally start once I get these jeans. I was about eleven, and I was really ready for my life to finally start.

I didn’t care if they were Sergio Valente, Vidal Sassoon or Jordache. Just give me the jeeeeeans.

I wished for them. I prayed for them. I asked Santa for them, even though I had my doubts about his existence by that time.

I never did get them. And I survived. I even forgot about this desire, for years, til I stumbled across this meme today.

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I even ended up having a pretty fabulous life without the jeans, after the horrors and traumas of middle school were far behind me, of course.

Desire is getting a lot of attention these days. We have The Secret, which tells us that by using the Law of Attraction, we can have anything and everything we want. We have teachers like Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, (I highly recommend) encouraging us to build our entire lives based on how we want to feel. We have no shortage of “desire-ology” available to us today. I love it. I think it’s important.

Yes, it is important to want what we want. But I think often, something important gets lost in all this wanting.

So what is the point of desire? Desire is a heat-generating power center in our bodies. Just desiring alone may be the point. Longing and desire are stimulating, energizing forces. Yes, contentedness feels nice.

Desire feels like fire.

When we cultivate desire, we turn up the heat in that energy center. It lives in our belly. It gets activated when we desire. You know what else gets activated? Creativity. Passion. Aliveness. Desire lights us up. And being lit up is a great thing to be, and will affect all areas of your life.

Desires change, just like we do. Things I wanted ten years ago I don’t want anymore. And I definitely don’t care about designer jeans anymore.

Allow for the fluidity of changing desires. Allow your desires to change, to give birth to desires that match newer versions of you.

Also remember when desiring, it’s not really about the thing, it’s about how we think it will make us feel.

Desire is informative. It tells us how we want to feel.

So what is it that I really wanted, underneath the desire for those designer jeans? I wanted to feel cool. I wanted to feel confident and self-assured and comfortable in my body, like the girls at school who wore them seemed to feel. What I didn’t know at that young and naive stage in my life is that jeans could not give that to me. A lifetime of inner work, healing, awareness and growth would be my path to those feelings.

YES, want what you want.

Allow yourself to feel that red hot fiery energy of desire.

Be curious with your desires.

Under every desire is another desire, and another, and they usually have less to do with the thing itself, and more to do with the feelings you think having that thing will give you.

So let’s say for example, you peel away the layers of your desire for a certain red convertible. When you peel away the layers, you realize, what you really want is to feel freedom. What you want to feel is fast, thrilling flow, adventure and exhilaration and wind through your hair.

Don’t wait for the car. How can you feel those feelings today?

Want what you want. Be unapologetic for wanting. Be brazen. So what if it’s “unrealistic”.

Feel the fire of desire. Allow that fire to fuel you, your creativity, your work, your relationships. Let desire light you up.

Feel it in your body. Locate it. Give it words. Let it become sensation. Lose the language. Feel the fire.

Undress your desires. Layer by layer, until you find yourself at the kernel of truth, of wisdom buried deep within it.

Be flexible with your desires. Rigidity is boring. Fluidity and openness and trusting in what is beyond your little human brain and its limited capacity for ideas and possibilities is way more fun.

What what you want, and know why you want it.

The Healing Power of a Crappy Mood

scribbles
Art by Baby Ryan Rockwell, a perfect depiction of my crappy mood.

Why is it we say we are “in pain”, when really the pain is in us?

Why is it we say we are “in a mood”, when really the mood is in us?

It’s not out there.

We contain that world of hurt, in us.

We contain the crappy mood, it’s in us.

More and more, I am remembering this important distinction. Not always, but something happens when I remember to practice this small shift in thinking. I don’t feel consumed by the pain. I don’t feel consumed by my emotions. I can hold these experiences inside me, tenderly, knowing that I contain everything, not just crappy moods and pain, but within me lives everything and I am spacious enough to hold any and every feeling.

I’ve spent so much of my life trying to avoid crappy moods and pain.

Wanting to just skip them, like fast forwarding through commercials, back to my regularly scheduled program.

And oh, let me tell you, I have devised some creative, clever, dangerous and dulling ways of avoiding, escaping or numbing myself from these feelings.

I also think many spiritual methodologies do us a damaging disservice by convincing us that somehow pain and shadowy emotions are somehow less spiritual, and should be blown past as quickly as possible to return us to our higher vibrations. Avoidance in spiritual costuming.

I am learning, year by year, day by day, a new way of being with pain and discomfort, whether physical or emotional. It’s presence.

Of course, I’m not saying I will avoid naproxen when I have a splitting headache, but I am learning to sit with myself better, to stay with myself.

I will no longer abandon myself. I have retired my tricks and tools for numbing, for racing through or resisting emotions.

I’m become my own expert at feeling, at allowing, at being.

I’m becoming a trusted friend of my feelings.

This has been no easy path. In fact, it requires more courage and boldness and devotion than I ever thought I had.

Yet, I contain everything. So I’ve been able to access these inner resources, more and more.

Here’s one little trick I use. When I notice myself experiencing a crappy mood, like most of us, I first think “Ugh, I’m in such a crappy mood.” Then my wise, loving self says “You are not in a crappy mood, the crappy mood is in you, my love.” (Yes, wise loving self speaks that sweetly to me.)

She directs me to locate the feeling, inside of me. Where is it? In my stomach? In my neck? In my chest? In my hips?

What does it look like? This part takes a little extra imagination. Often my painful emotions look like pencil scribbles, moving frenetically in a scribbly, jumbly mess. Sometimes they look like blurry reds and browns, like someone took oil paints on a palette and smeared the colors all together.

Then I direct my focus to that part of me where the feeling is hanging out, and I just look at it. Sometimes I ask it what it wants. Sometimes I just create some space around it. But mostly, I just allow it to be.

And the funniest thing happens when I allow it to be. It shifts on its own. It diminishes, it shrinks in direct proportion to my willingness to let it be. In its own natural time. It doesn’t like to be rushed. But it really just wants to move through me.

I can be with myself when I’m feeling crappy. I can stay with myself when I’m hurting, when I’m scared.

It’s taken me a lifetime to learn that when I can turn to what’s inside me with allowance, with curiosity and compassion, healing happens.

Self-trust happens.

I become a safe place for my feelings.

I’m still learning, in fact.

I’ve learned this lesson, these practices again and again, in fact.

The path of learning and healing and growing is not a linear journey, but a deepening spiral, and each time I learn and re-learn, I change. I heal.

And I am grateful for the journey. Everything uncomfortable, everything painful is an invitation to heal more deeply. And I accept the invitation. Sometimes with resistance. Sometimes with trepidation. But I accept.

Of course I prefer a cheery disposition. Who doesn’t?

But I’ll tell you, learning to be with myself in any disposition is changing everything. And it was time for everything to change.

 

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Author’s post script: If you have persistent pain or crappy emotions that won’t go away, no matter how hard you try to allow, create space around or let them move through you, ask for  help. You don’t have to go it alone. Relief is available. Talk to someone.

 

To Feel or To Numb, the Always-Question

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It happens to all of us. There are none of us immune, or above it. So-called “enlightenment” does not protect us from this very human, primal, lizard-brain response. As long as we are walking around in these skin-suits, we must acknowledge our totality– and that totality includes being very, very human.

When faced or filled with an experience or feeling we don’t like, there are three responses we might have—it’s ancient programming. It’s about survival: fight, flight or freeze. We certainly won’t die from a feeling a crappy feeling, but these feelings can feel dangerous, or at the least, uncomfortable. And we prefer comfort.

I think the act of numbing is so subversive, automatic and common, that oftentimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it. There are a thousand ways to numb. Here are some common ones:

  • Scrolling through Facebook to cheer up when grumpy
  • Drinks after a tough day
  • Netflix in bed, to quiet the mind and fall asleep
  • Shopping online for stuff we don’t need, to feel happier, knowing something is on its way to us
  • Smoking pot to escape a crappy mood
  • Making spontaneous plans with pals, to avoid being alone with our feelings
  • Having a cigarette because we’re stressed
  • Flirting with a co-worker because we feel lonely or unattractive
  • Binge-eating ice cream because we’re bored

Even some of our healthiest tools can be used for numbing- exercise, prayer, meditation, reading self-help books.

If we are trying to escape a feeling, we’re numbing, regardless of the activity.

I’ve been finding myself with uncomfortable feelings lately.  Sadness. Restlessness. Grief. Fear.  And I’m noticing that I have a choice, with every feeling. I get to decide how I respond. Sometimes I can stay with a feeling, feel it, deal with it, heal it… and sometimes, I admit it: I just want to numb.

Yikes… There’s a certain vulnerability involved in being a Life Coach and teacher and admitting to numbing at times to escape a feeling. Shouldn’t I be so evolved that I can stay perfectly present with every feeling? What will people think when they realize that I’m not perfect? Silly, I know.

I don’t think perfection is what you’re looking for. And if it is, I am not it. My promise to you is to stay current and real with what’s really going on. I am more mistrusting of the coaches and teachers who pretend they have it all together than the ones that admit to experiencing human struggles. The illusion of perfection is dangerous. We are human. Our desire to numb, our survival instinct, our animal instincts of fight, flight or freeze are about as human as being human gets.

There’s a certain vulnerability to being human, period. And yes, I am still in progress. I still am working on myself.  I am in constant communication with my Higher Self. And she says to ease up on myself, and give up my attempts at perfection and instead, embrace my totality. In fact, today, she wrote me a love letter…

 

***

Breathe.

You’ve been here before.

You know this place, you know this feeling.

Just breathe.

Notice the feeling.

Name it.

Where is it residing, in your body, right now?

Can you create space around it, with your breath?

Yep, there it is: A feeling.

And now, you get to decide what you want to do with it.

The choice really is yours.

Feel it?

Numb it?

Fight it?

Avoid it?

Talk to it?

Hold it close, like a small infant…

There, there…

Or take cover from it,

like a fierce and frightening storm…

Get me out of this…

Or put it away, tucking it out of sight,

I’ll deal with you later.

You get to decide.

Decide.

Choose.

I like it when you choose.

It’s when we don’t even know we’re choosing,

when our behaviors and coping mechanisms are automatic

and mindless

that we get ourselves into trouble.

Today you might choose to numb it.

Tomorrow you might choose to feel it.

Can you love yourself, even when you’re numbing?

Even when you’re fragile?

Even when you’re not as grand

as you would like to be?

Even when your choices seem less enlightened

than you thought you were?

I love your glory, your high and noble aspirations,

your striving for Higher Ground. But remember…

I think you are beautiful and divine all the time.

Even when you’re human.

Or maybe especially so.

***

I’m not advocating a life of mindless numbing. I’m advocating a life of being mindfully human. Choosing what feels like the best way to take care of ourselves at any given moment, even when it’s not necessarily the most enlightened response. I’m advocating a life of awareness and honesty, and of doing the best we can. After all, what more can we do?

 

 

 

 

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Author’s note: Taking it easy this summer, and sharing some of my favorite blogs as my heart instructs. This republished blog was originally posted 12.8.13.