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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.

 

 

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?”

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.

Stop trying to be fearless.

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Joan Crawford, Sudden Fear; Photo credit: RKO Radio Pictures

 

Fearlessness is total bullshit.

There. I said it.

I have yet to meet someone who is fearless. If they claim to be, well, they’re either hiding it, or sleepwalking through life.

And here’s a confession: I nearly cringe when someone calls me “fearless.”

And another: I’m scared all the time.

But I’ve taken that to mean something awesome is on the horizon. I take it as a signpost: adventure ahead. Fear is inevitable if I am moving forward. Period.

I don’t want to be fearless! I think our constant striving to be fearless is a big ol’ waste of time. Let’s focus our energy on better projects- like being brave!

I’d rather be brave than fearless.

Fear lets me know I’m alive.

Fear informs me.

Fear tells me that I am moving.

If I am never scared, I am probably playing way too safe. I am probably just existing. I am likely not adventuring in any way.

Fear is my teacher. Fear is my friend. It means well. It protects me when it needs to, by sounding alarms and manifesting signals and messages in my body and mind.

Yes, it sometimes gets unruly. Sometimes it’s completely unreasonable. It can keep me up at night, if I let it. But it means me no harm.

Its only intention is to protect me.

Then why does fear get such a bad rap? Why does it have such a lousy reputation?

Because sometimes, unfortunately, we give fear far too much power in our lives.

We let fear make our decisions.

We shut down our gut feelings.

We disconnect from our true desires.

We disengage from life because the vulnerability that fear requires is too intense.

Think of fear as your back-seat driver. It pipes up if your turns are too sharp, if it thinks you’re driving too fast, going the wrong way, or not abiding by the ever-so-boring rules of the road. And sometimes, even the most annoying of back-seat drivers have a point. But we don’t need to let them take the wheel. We don’t need to relinquish the driver’s seat. Because what fear really wants to do is pull over, park and stay put. It’s just safer that way.

But you and I, my friend, we have places to go, people to see, things to do, a world to change.

So, we’ll let fear be the back seat driver, we’ll listen when we need to (okay, maybe I WAS going WAY over the speed limit…) but we gotta keep driving.

So let’s ease up on Fear. Fear is not the bad guy.

The simple truth is, we are our own saboteur when we allow fear to run the show.

When we stay when we need to go. When we say yes when we mean no. When we quit because it gets too scary. When we never start because its already too scary.

This notion of fearlessness to me feels like a sort of zombie-like state to be in… a life with no fear? Sounds like a terribly boring time. I’ll take fear, thank you very much, and I’ll continue to cultivate my courage by taking brave steps, by continuing to risk in life, in love, in my work, in my art, in relationships.

This is my mantra: Fear, I hear you. Thanks for your concern. But I’m doing it anyway.

 

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Originally published April 2014, as “Fearlessness is Bullshit”.

What These Women Have Taught Me

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I promise, you can do this!

I am more in love with my work than I have ever been. One of the most beautiful parts of my work and my life is The Burlesque Experience. Running now for five and a half years and 22 seasons, around 230 women have come through this program, and  I gotta tell ya, it doesn’t get old. In fact, tomorrow, another group is finishing their program, the end of the line. Tonight, the last sleep tonight before Bust-Out.

And I have fallen in love with each of them.

Could I love this work any more than I do right now? I doubt it.

It starts with a strut.
It starts with a strut.

Like any marriage, my relationship to the Burlesque Experience has been challenging at times. At one point I even wanted to leave it (some of you may remember, Last Year’s Burn-Out…) But I realized that what I really needed was rest. I know now that I must do my best to keep my tank filled, keep my head on straight, focused, adulting, dedicated. I know that if I stay awake, stay present and in service to the group, it’s a sheer delight.

I’ve learned (the hard way) that impeccable self-care is the key to being good at what I do. It’s not just a novelty or ‘good-to-do’ kind of thing. It is paramount. And when I show up fully, I get the most out of it. I get to spend an exciting six weeks with a group of brave women who transform, bond, blossom and bloom in seriously palpable, sustaining and powerful ways.

I have the best job in the world. And I don’t just teach them. They teach me, too.

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Am I really doing this?

Here’s what these women have taught me lately…

  • We are so much more than we think we are. Every semester, week one, women come to that first intro circle, uncertain, curious, wanting more. They also come with their stories about who they are or who they are not, and sometimes even who they think they can never be. And then, I watch, as they shed those stories and prove to themselves they are so much more than they ever thought.
  • We need each other. Each semester, I watch a bunch of strangers sheepishly approach one another, wondering who will they like. Will they be liked? Do they fit in? By the time they reach their Bust-Out, they are soul sisters, they are intimately connected and they trust each other. They hold each other up, they wipe each other’s tears. They show up for one another in such inspiring ways. No one does this alone. In life, and in the Burlesque Experience.
  • We can be afraid and do it anyway. People who wait for the courage to arrive, before they say yes to their Burlesque Experience may be waiting forever. The courage comes while you are doing it. And afterward, you are more courageous than you were before you did it. That’s how courage works.Tomorrow, the Spring/Summer 2016 class busts out. Are they excited? Hell yeah. Are they terrified? Of course. Will they do it anyway? I have no doubt. Fear is part of the package. We don’t get to skip it. But we can move through it. When we start to realize we can do brave things AND be afraid at the same time, the world opens up for us. We become unstoppable.
  • We can do anything we set our minds to, even if a part of us thinks we cannot. Around week three, this group, and the ones before it, realize what’s ahead, and it feels insurmountable. Freak outs begin. Meltdowns are common. Fear works overtime. Overwhelm kicks in. I plead with them to stay with me, it’s possible, we can do this. And most of the time, they stay. But it’s not my pleading that convinces them. It is they, themselves. They work their tails off, they practice, they create, they stay connected to each other and dedicated to the process and to themselves, and then, they reach the end, and lo and behold, they do it, and hot damn, they do it well.
  • We all want to be seen. We all are meant to shine. I’ve worked with every type of woman you can imagine. Shy women, open women, closed women, wounded women, loud women, quiet women, younger women, older women, sweet women, sour women, and we all share so many things in common. One of them being this deep desire to be seen. To stand in a spotlight, to bravely say, “Hey world, here I am! Notice me!” This requires great bravery. And they have it. And every woman is capable of shining brightly. It’s not just reserved for a certain few. We all have it in us. In class, I call it our inner showgirl. We could also call it our essence, our spirit, our bright shining soul. We are meant to shine. Marianne Williamson said it best…

“We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine… It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

It’s almost showtime.

I hope you will be there with me. It’s so much more than a “show.”

Hold space with me as we watch these women shine, as they are liberated from their fears, and in doing so, liberate others.

Cheer with me as they boldly step onto that stage and into the powerful glow of their very own light.

I am in awe of these women. I couldn’t be more proud of them. I couldn’t feel more blessed.

I think they're ready.

They’re ready. Let’s do this.     

Photos by Sunset Hoots Monroe & Dee Hill.

Do the Wild Thing.

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“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.

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.

 

 

Originally published July 23, 2014

Your Fear is a Master of Disguise

Review41 ScoobyDoo panel5

Remember in every episode of Scooby Doo, at the end, the kids would catch the scary ghost that had been haunting them, only to pull off his mask and discover it was just some guy, pretending to be a scary ghost?

In my countless sessions with clients, conversations with friends, private whining dates with my own journal and years of being in circles of truth-telling women, I’ve noticed something interesting.

All too often, fear holds us back from what it is we want to be, do or create. It is fear that holds us back from letting go, from moving forward, fear holds us back from taking chances and plunges and leaps. Fear gets in the way of our dreams and desires. Fear keep us stuck and small and stagnant and the same.

Yet, in most of those cases, our fear knows that if it came  right out and said, “hey you know what, I’m afraid, and here’s why…” you very likely would see it for what it was and blow right past it. And fear’s motivation is only trying to do its job, after all. Fear wants to protect you, guard you, keep you safe, keep you stuck, keep things the same.

Fear has picked up some tricks on its journey. It’s clever. It’s strategic. It has to be. So in order to get you to pay attention, in order to get you to stay “safe,” here’s what fear does: it disguises itself as other things.

Do you have a desire or dream or change you haven’t been able to create movement with, for one reason or another?

See if you recognize any of these disguises fear uses, when it comes to your dream…

  • Disguise #1: Preparation – Classes, courses, certifications, research, prep work, organizing, re-organizing, re-re-organizing. You know what I’m talking about. The problem with these is that just when you achieve one level, you quickly convince yourself that there is something else you need to know or achieve or accomplish to do the dream. I once worked with a client who was stuck in a standstill with her new business launch until she got a new set of office shelves. Shelves. Her dream was on a shelf because of shelves.
  • Disguise #2: Procrastination – Once I finish this Netflix binge, I’ll work on that business plan. I would do that tonight but I am beat. I’ll get to that thing tomorrow. Or the next day, but soon! Procrastination has a nice payoff too. It’s a lot easier to put things off then to do them. And by easier, I also mean “safer”.
  • Disguise #3: Limitations – A wise friend once said to me “argue for your limitations and they’re yours.” it was a punch in the gut at the time, because I was literally arguing for my limitations when she said it. That’s the thing about limitations. If you want ’em, you got ’em. They certainly love being coddled. In fact, they absolutely BLOSSOM with attention. I hear them all the time. I’m too young. I’m too old. I’m too fat. I’m too broke. I’m too busy. I’m too this, I’m too that. Our perceived limitations quite quickly become TRUTH. If we choose for them to be. Or… we can be wild and crazy and blow right through them. I’ve seen that a few times too. I’ve even been lucky enough to have done it.
  • Disguise #4: Blame or finger-pointing – This clever disguise of fear likes to convince you that it’s somebody else’s fault that you are not doing what it is you came to do. That if it weren’t for that crappy husband, boss, mom, dad, you’d be doing your dream. If it weren’t for THEM, you know… THEM,  you’d be different. You’d change. You really would.
  • Disguise #5: Busyness – We all juggle a lot. I get it. But here’s the thing. The obligations, commitments and time bandits in your life because you allowed them in. You chose them. You actually did. You have two choices here. You can continue to use busyness as a convenient hiding place for fear. Or you can make some space. Commit to your desires. Squeeze in five minutes a day. Do whatever you can. So often we think that soon, just around the corner, life is about to get way less busy. Guess what? It does not. We make the time for what’s most important. If you don’t like the way you spend your time, if the way you spend your time is interfering with a dream, make some cuts. Delete. Re-org. And if you still can’t find the time, chances are, it’s fear making sure you stay nice and busy because it’s safer, and you get to stay the same. Remember, fear loves that.

In which of those five do you identify your fear in disguise? It’s time to shine the light at them. Reveal them.

Think back to when you were a kid. Sometimes simply shining the flashlight on the scary monster in the dark room proves that it’s just a sweater on a chair.

Shine the flashlight on your fear. And then maybe, you can choose differently. One choice at a time.

But first we must call it them out. Nothing changes til we call them out.  Maybe a journal entry like this…

“I see you, Fear! Disguising yourself as _____ and ____. How clever and wily of you. Sadly though, I’m on to you. I’m hip to what you’re throwing, I’m no longer fooled by your conniving ways. I get it. You want us to stay safe. You want me to stay the same. I understand. But here’s the thing. I can’t. So just to give you a heads up, I’m going to be _______ and ______ in the coming days. Starting now, I’m also going to be ________.

I’ve got dreams. Desires. Plans. Big things to do. You no longer get to be in charge.

Your services are no longer needed.”

Are you ready to do that? There is no time to lose. The time is now. The world needs your gifts, your message, your smile, your creations, your song, your dance, your ministry, your magic, your mischief, your heart, wide open, spilling forth.

And Fear is just going to have to deal with that.