freedom

Baby, You’re Worth It.

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Click for video. What if this was your anthem for 2018?

It happens every year. Millions of us start the year with determination and resolve…

This is The Year.I will eat healthier. I will exercise more. I will create new habits to work toward my dreams…

And then, one by one, by February, almost all resolutions have been dumped by the side of the road, like last year’s Christmas tree.

And does that mean you failed at resolutions, or did the resolutions fail you?

There are a few theories I have about why this happens, why we start strong with such good intentions, such fierce determination, only to eventually fizzle out.

The bottom line is this. Resolutions rarely work.

Yet we are so quick to blame ourselves.

If I was just determined enough, disciplined enough, focused enough, we often think. If only I had more will power.

Ahh, will power. That evasive, invisible force that seems to start strong and fresh each morning, only to evaporate by day’s end.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about change, commitment, creating healthy new habits and ditching old, unhealthy ones, in hopes that you’ll feel extra supported as you move deeper into 2018, hopefully with your commitments strengthening.

But here’s where it starts, my lovely friend.

You must believe you are worthy of your desires.

You’ve gotta believe, all the way to your core, that you deserve this.

And I think all too often, deep down inside, we don’t really believe in our own deservability.

Getting healthier takes extra time and effort. Shopping, chopping, slicing and dicing veggies for a salad is, ugh… so much more time-consuming and expensive than say, Jack in the Box drive-thru.

And you are so worth it.

The next time you are going the extra mile for yourself, hassling over yourself, chopping, dicing, juicing, getting your butt to the gym in cold, crappy weather, paying for dance classes, whatever that extra effort might be, what if you turned your effort or extra hassle into an act of devotion, instead? An act of worthiness and deservability. An act of love.

What if you repeated this to yourself, over and over? I am worth the effort.

Baby, I’m worth it.

Think about the things you have done for others that are time-consuming and take extra effort.

Maybe you drove all over town looking for that special Christmas list item for your kid. Because your children are worth the effort.

Maybe you are dating someone you’re crazy about and you spent hours in the kitchen preparing a special dinner for them. Because that person is worth the effort.

Maybe you spent hours knitting that scarf for your favorite cousin. Because she is worth the effort.

It’s so easy to do these extra things for the people we care about, because they are worth it. Their smiles, their satisfaction, their happiness matters to us.

And you, my friend, are also worth the effort. You are so worth the effort.

I’ll never forget my fantastic client Jennifer, that told me how her amazing, succulent wild woman, poet aunt, responds, when receiving a gift from someone…

“You are so good to me, and I am so deserving.”

Don’t you just love that?

We are so deserving.

And in a couple weeks, (or days!) when your resolutions or intentions for 2018 start to lose their luster, falling flat, like the carbonation fizzled out of a soda… remind yourself.

You are worth the effort.

Every ounce of extra effort it takes for you to be, do or have whatever it is you want, is worth it.

Because you are deserving, so deserving.

Believe it, know it.

And remind yourself, as you course down the aisles of that pricey health food store, or write that check for the yoga pass, or power through cravings as you break that nicotine habit, or dice and slice and chop your ingredients all Sunday afternoon for your weekly meal prep.

I am so deserving.

Baby, I’m worth it.

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.

 

 

Desperately Seeking Passion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Originally posted April 2014.

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!

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.

You will never be free, if you don’t do this.

freedomI think its pretty safe to say, we all enjoy freedom. We all want to feel free. Feeling imprisoned, trapped, meh, not really our thing.

I know for me, freedom has been a number one value, for many, many years. My top Core Desired Feeling is freedom. It is my favorite feeling, top sensation. Yeah, it’s very important to me.

In fact, for many years of my life, I was so hell-bent on feeling free, that I often mistook the concern, care or requests of others (mainly, the most important relationships in my life) as control, and putting my so-called freedom in jeopardy.

I used to semi-brag “If it even smells like control, I rebel.”

I spent so much time and energy rebelling against imagined control, my own rebellion became a prison.

I’ve been learning some really important things about this freedom I value so much, and how I’ve been fooling myself.

Anything that limits your capacity to experience joy, to give and receive love, is a prison.

Often, that prison is you.

And if you are in prison, you are not free.

Through lots of therapy, inner work and growth, I am much less of a ‘rebel’ (no longer acting out in dangerous, destructive or hurtful ways, in order to maintain my ‘freedom’.)

Yet, this year being the Year of Big Reveals for me… I realized, I still wasn’t free.

For there was a war waging inside of me. There was a painful battle I was fighting that I very rarely talked about, and its kept me imprisoned most of my entire life.

I was at war with my body.

This war manifested itself in many ways– the way I talked to myself…

The way I weighed myself daily, allowing the number on the scale to determine what kind of day I would have or if I would be in the mood to reward myself or abuse myself…

The way I turned to substances to feel better about myself, to feel confident and self-assured, faux freedom…

The way I constantly tried to monitor and control what I ate, in order to lose this extra weight, this extra part of me that I was so, so deeply loathsome of.

Even though I was in the business of helping women love themselves and their bodies, that luxury was not for me. That freedom was for others. I didn’t deserve that kind of freedom.

Here I was, Miss International Spokeswoman for Freedom, but I was not really free.

And the same is very likely true for you. Are you free, truly free?

Or are you in prison?

What I’m about to say might seem harsh, but I say it out of love, and first-hand experience.

If you are weighing yourself daily, you are not truly free.

If you are depriving or restricting yourself of entire food groups in effort to lose or control weight, you are not truly free.

If you are obsessively thinking about your body, your weight, your appearance, you are not truly free.

If you are withholding love from yourself until you reach that “ideal” weight, size or look, you are not free.

If you are counting calories, fat grams, tracking every calorie you burn or ingest, this, my beloved friend, is. Not. Freedom.

This is war.

You are at war with your body.

Your body wants peace. Your body wants to be loved. Your body wants you to know how much it loves you, how hard it works for you, how deeply it needs you to end the war.

Until you end the war with your body, you are not really free.

Until I ended the war, I was not free.

Truth is,  I have to end it again and again, sometimes even on a moment by moment basis. Body-loathing was so habitual, it has become more natural than body-loving. But I am on a path of freedom now. And I am willing to fight for it.

I did something really bold a couple months ago. I put the scale in the garage. I stopped weighing daily. Instead, I weigh on Monday mornings. The feeling of freedom from the tyranny of the scale has been exhilarating. But, here’s what happened last week.

Last week, I went to the gym three times. I did yoga at home. I took a couple walks. I was so proud. If you know me, this is a really big deal. I was feeling so good about myself. My body and I were crushing on each other. My confidence level was higher.

I was doing these things, taking great care of my body, for the first time, from a place of loving kindness. My body and I, buddies, lovers… it felt amazing.

Then this Monday, I got on the scale and the number was slightly higher than it was last Monday. And my mood plummeted. My great feelings about myself and my body evaporated, instantly.

I was disgusted.

There I was again, back in that cycle. Whether I am weighing daily or weekly, if I allow that number to determine my mood, my worth, my feelings about my body, I am not free.

So I went to work… I reminded myself of all the wonderful things I had done for my body the previous week.

I reminded myself of the new way I talk to myself, kindly, respectfully. I reminded myself of my new desire, real freedom. True freedom.

I reminded myself that bashing myself over the number on that blasted scale is not freedom, and I returned to love.

I reconsidered my weekly weigh-in, and began a new conversation about where I go from here. I want to feel good. I want to feel free.

So, what I am learning here: this freedom that I love so much is something I will sometimes need to fight for.

I will need to return to it, perhaps again and again, for the rest of my life. Or perhaps someday it will just be my state of being.

Either way, I’m in.

The same goes for you.

Unless you end the war with your body, you will never be free.

The freedom we long for is on the other side of body-loathing. And so is the power. Real power. True power. But I’ll save that for another blog.

Let’s fight for our freedom by deciding “no more body-loathing”, and ending the war, even if we have to do it again and again and again.

The Truth About Changing

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“Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens.”
– Fay Weldon

There’s a recent shifting, a new understanding in me that has basically turned my world on its head.

It’s challenged everything I thought about life, about change, about habits and healing. It has turned my business beliefs upside down, it’s shaken up my entire coaching practice and belief system, and yeah, it’s big.

And it’s so awesome. So liberating.

I feel an opening within me that has become bigger than me, I free-fall into it. I’m still not 100% sure how to integrate this new understanding into my business, and exactly how it will impact my life coaching practice, and my life in general. It is monumental.

I do know my work is becoming much richer with this new understanding,  much more loving, and compassionate, and effective.

Wanna know what it is? It’s this:

Everything is perfect. There is nothing to fix.

Your path is your path. Your unfolding is yours. There is no reason to force yourself into changing. In fact, it won’t work, if you are forcing it.

Having built my business on helping people change, as you can imagine, this is a game-changer.

Lately, I wonder if much of the self-improvement culture we live in today isn’t a bunch of bullshit. By our relentless pursuit of being “better”, we can never be enough.

If I witnessed a flower bud, and said “Flower bud, you are perfect, just the way you are. Don’t change!” would I stop it from blooming, at its own natural time? NO. It was designed to bloom.

If I witnessed a flower bud, and said “Flower bud, open. Open now. You were meant to bloom. Work harder. Push. COME ON! Why are you still a bud?” would it open any faster? NO.

Yes, it was designed to bloom. But at its own perfect pace.

Just like us.

Is an unopened bud any less perfect than an flower in bloom?

There is no forcing evolution. Evolution will not be forced. Emergence cannot be rushed. Blooming happens when its meant to. Not a minute before. Not a minute after.

The problem with much of our self-improvement thinking is that we are spinning our wheels, spending so much time, energy and money trying to shape ourselves into better versions, new and improved, always, relentlessly trying to change. Wondering why we can’t change. Wondering why we can’t shake this habit or that dependency. Frustrated as hell that we can’t reach that same goal we’ve had for 20 years, or that we haven’t succeeded manifesting our deepest desires and are still not the people we want to be.

We are missing the point.

And we are missing the perfection available to us in the present moment.

Am I saying don’t try? Of course not. Your desire, your intention, your trying is how you will get there, when the time is right, after all, but we also need to take into account the natural, organic ways we shift, when it’s time to shift.

We change when it’s time to change.

A caterpillar when it cocoons does not weave its humble abode around itself to cozily sprout wings and emerge all butterfly-beautiful, oooh! No. It’s a much uglier process than that.

The caterpillar first must deconstruct, actually deconstituting itself into black liquid. Caterpillar soup. From those cells, something new begins to take shape. But not without becoming complete mush before then. And here’s something new that I just learned… in that black soup process, the old cells fight the new cells.

While the new cells struggle and work to become butterfly, what is old, familiar, outdated is still struggling for survival. Can you relate?

When making the changes you want in your life, there will likely be struggle. It won’t be easy. Sometimes you will be fighting for your life. I’m not saying don’t fight, don’t work, don’t try.

I’m saying trust the process. Trust your own evolution.

I also know that you can’t crack open a cocoon anytime you want to set the butterfly free. I’ve learned the hard way, when I was 10. It was devastating and I felt like crap, I had destroyed the butterfly before it was even ready to be born, by trying to rush its perfect process.

So this is the great paradox… when you want to change, work at it. But know that if it’s not time for change, it won’t work.

Everything is perfect. Nothing needs fixing.

When it’s your time to let go, you will let go.

When it’s time to release old habits, you will be able to release them.

When it’s your time to make painful decisions, you’ll bravely make those decisions (not without being scared, don’t get me wrong. Bravery and fear are by no means exclusive of one another.)

When it’s time to leap, you will leap.

When it’s time to know, you will know.

When it’s time to crack out of your shell, you will fight for your life to break free.

And when it’s time to bloom, you will bloom.

Applying this level of acceptance and trust to my life and to the lives of those I care for and work with has been challenging at times.

We want what we want, and we want it now.

But luckily, becoming this new version of who I am brings with it the capacity to accept and trust life, on life’s terms, and I know, when it’s time… it’s time.

“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anais Nin

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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.

Shock Yourself: Loosen the Labels that Bind You

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Photo courtesy of Flickr Hive Mind.

“I am not the type to let people in.”

“I am the least domesticated person you’ll ever meet.”

“I can’t save money.”

“I always let fear stop me from what I want.”

“I hate when attention is on me.”

“I’m not ever putting myself in a vulnerable situation again.”

“I could never do that.” (Insert your “that” of choice.)

One of the most pervasive and restricting things that keeps us from living life fully, and experiencing our own fullness, is not our circumstances, it’s not our budget, it’s not our past, it’s not our external limitations.

It’s the stories we tell ourselves about who we are.

I hear them all the time. Sometimes, in my own head.

Here’s one I used to tell: I am not the domestic type. I felt strongly about this, because I wanted to feel “wild and free” and to me, being domestic was the opposite of these feelings. I feared it would feel restrictive. Lame, dull.  If I surrendered to domesticity, I’d lose my feminist card, and turn into some sort of Stepford wife.

On a deeper level, the last time I really, truly embraced domesticity was my very short, and very shitty first marriage from the time I was 19 to 21. He had turned out to be an abusive, controlling monster. So maybe on some level, I tied the two together and promised myself, never again, not me.

It wasn’t until very recently I began to challenge this old story, and realized, to my amazement, I can feel wild and free AND domestic. These days, I’m certainly less “wild” than I used to be, (thank goodness) but I’m creating a new definition of who I am. And I love it.

I am domestic. There, I said it. In fact, this is new. It’s just been sinking in, the last couple months.

Like most mornings, this morning, I spent the first few minutes out of bed tidying up the house. My fiancé, Matt and I just moved in, almost three months ago, and while that “honeymoon phase” newness of the house has slightly worn, I still find this act of tidying up to be a meditation of sorts. A blessing, a gift. A prayer.

As I fiddle around, arranging pillows on the couch, throwing in a load of laundry or wiping down the kitchen counters, watering a plant, I feel a giddy sense of joy at the simplicity of my newfound domesticity. See, I was notoriously a self-proclaimed “non-domestic.” Sure, I kept my apartment tidy before the house. But I never cherished tidying up. That is just friggin’ weird.

But here I am, doing it. And when I do, I notice a presence, an awakeness, peppered with gratitude, to be alive, to be sober, and present, to be clear-headed, to be home. In myself. I’m home.

And then, I find wiping the counters, arranging pillows, watering a plant, these simple acts of keeping house, become an act of devotion, a way of saying “Thanks, God.” Me. And upon realizing this, I shock myself.

So how can you shock yourself today? How can you challenge your own binding labels of who you are, and who you are not?

I don’t think it’s just cool or interesting to challenge and loosen the labels that bind us. I daresay, these are acts of defiance, radical acts of revolution. Evolution. And doing so may be imperative to your growth.

Granted, no one knows you better than you, I won’t argue that, but when you definitively declare, out loud to the world, or quietly inside, who you are, or who you are not, you create a box around yourself. Your own little personal prison- how cute! You might decorate it, hang pretty curtains, but as long as you refuse to leave it, as long as you don’t dare explore what might be outside of its walls, you’re in a self-inflicted prison. Isn’t it time you broke out?

Guess what? The box is made of cardboard. Grab a butter knife.

Pretty much every day, in my work, and in my life, I hear definitive declarations of what people think they are and what they think they are not. I listen to stories of limitation and people fighting passionately to live by them, hanging curtains in their cardboard boxes and yes, like I said earlier, now and then, some of the stories I hear are my very own.

Thankfully, almost every day, I also see people defying their own stories and limitations. I see women bravely doing what they thought they could not do. I see courageous souls willing to risk what they think they know about themselves, and the deceptive comfort that comes with that, to explore the other side of that cardboard box. And wow. When they do, amazing, miraculous, transformative and powerful things happen.

Magic happens.

I challenge you today to choose a label or a story or a definitive declaration you’ve held on to, and shock yourself. Do the opposite. Be the opposite. Open up to the possibility that what you think you are is not the be all, end all of who you are.

And watch the magic happen.

You are all things. You contain multitudes.

Why not experience as many of them as you can, in this fleeting moment we call life?

Hot & Holy: Sex, Soul and the “Sacred Slut”

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Photo by Dee Hill, Makeup by Vivienne Vermuth

We were divinely designed for pleasure. We are born sexual. We are wired for intensity. We are wild, beastly, messy, sticky, erotic creatures. We burn deeply with desires, some we would never dream of naming.

Yet through a hundred thousand messages, religion, lies, experiences and for many of us, traumas, we split ourselves into pieces, between what is “good and holy”, and what is “dirty”. The richness of our sexuality is often boxed, labeled and closed away, and when that happens, we suffer.  In fact, the world suffers with us. Because I believe with all that I am, that a woman who is completely integrated is a powerful force. She is a sight to behold, an inspiration to take in, a lover like no other, a goddess, a Queen.

Fully integrated, we are medicine women, we are healers, we are magical. We are Queens.

What is a Sacred Slut? When I put those two words together, I made myself a little uncomfortable. I was worried what you would think. The word “slut” after all, has such heavy baggage that we are supposed to feel ashamed of. Think about it.

When was the first time you heard the word and got an idea of what it meant? Middle school? Earlier? Maybe they called that girl whose body developed before everyone else’s a slut. Maybe that girl was you. How many of us were called sluts, because our breasts showed up sooner than others, or our hips and waists began to curve, or because we were sexually curious, “advanced”. Our early experiences labeled some of us as “easy” and “slutty.”

Were you ever called a slut? My very first husband, A., was an emotionally and verbally abusive tyrant. He often told me I was a slut, a whore. In his words, my sole purpose was to suck and fuck. I left his ass by the time I was 21, wisely. But for years, those words stayed rooted in my brain.

I went through many years of my life leading a promiscuous life. My sexuality was one of the only sources of power that I knew of, and like a child wielding a deadly weapon, I waved and swung my sexuality around thinking it was powerful, thinking I was sexually free, while the choices and behaviors I was engaged in had nothing to do with power or freedom, and were actually closer to the complete opposite. For many years, in many ways, I was “up for grabs.” Gabrielle Roth, in her book “Sweat Your Prayers”, (and I’m paraphrasing here) puts it beautifully… “I had taken into my body men I wouldn’t even loan my car to.”

Yet, through all of my experiences, because of my experiences, I am who I am now. I wouldn’t be the me I am without them. And so I embrace them. I embrace them all.

I no longer betray or abandon myself. I am no longer up for grabs. I now use my sexual power for expression, connection, pleasure, and no longer to fill my emptiness, “win” someone’s attention or to feel “loved.”

Yet, I embrace the me that did betray and abandon herself, the me that was up for grabs. She is part of me. Because of her, I am.

We are such rich, multi-faceted, multi-layered creatures, with rich histories and colorful futures ahead of us.

Somewhere along the way many of us come to believe that our holy, sacred selves are separate from our “dirty”, slutty selves. We so often fail to see the divinity of our totality.

A Sacred Slut doesn’t do that anymore. A Sacred Slut owns her totality, the light, the darkness, the love, the loathing, the magic, the mistakes, all of it, and claims her sovereign status, Queen of herself. Queen of Her Selves. All of them.

The three kingdoms of our sexual worlds are our pasts, our present and our future. The lives we’ve lived, the ways we’ve lost ourselves, the ways we’ve found ourselves. The ways we are still becoming. Our desires and longings. We can be everything. We are everything.

A Sacred Slut is no longer defined by her past, but she owns her stories, lest they own her.

Whatever parts of you that are harder to own, your past, your present, your desires, your secrets, your shame, the darker parts, especially the darker parts, I dare you to own them all, and celebrate them all, because you are Queen of your domain.

There is great power in owning your totality, your divine and your “dirty”. All of it. Sacred. Embrace it all. All of you, not just the love and light, not just the good and pure, not just the kindness and compassion.  Love it all.

There is so much more power to living a life fully integrated, and full integration, paradoxically, is found in wrapping your arms around all of your selves. Your complexity is your divinity. Your contradictions are your holy humanity. You are here for it all. You get to be it all. You get to live it all. And by doing so, you claim your full power.

You get to be whole now. Be whole, Queen.