healing

Enough is Enough with Feeling “Not Enough”

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As the fifteen women shuffled in, nervously, awkwardly, some excitedly, some quietly, some chattering, hugging. Shifting into seats, we took some minutes to settle into the room and the circle before beginning our workshop.

I began by passing out blank sheets of paper and asking each woman to write down five insecure thoughts that she had since entering the room.  Not one of them hesitated to begin scribbling their insecurities. I collected these anonymous lists and put them in a box. “We’re letting these go for now, we’re putting them aside,” I explained. I put the box outside of the room. “If you want to grab them on your way out later, feel free.”

No one did. I ended up going home with fifteen very interesting lists. Around twelve of them mentioned their bellies, and not in very kind ways. Thirteen of them listed feeling fat. Many of them wrote of being concerned about saying something stupid. Not fitting in. Regretting what they wore. Concerned about being judged. And this is typical. Nothing unique here. We do this often, and we do this well.

Renowned father-and-daughter psychologists Dr.’s Robert and Lisa Firestone have done extensive research on our insecurities, and they have found these to be the most common…

  • You’re stupid.

  • You’re unattractive.

  • You’re not like other people.

  • You’re a failure.

  • You never get anything right.

  • No one will ever love you.

  • You’re fat.

  • You’re such a loser.

It’s a painful reality that we are our own worst enemies, that there is most likely no one in our lives as critical, and even cruel as we are to ourselves.

I think it’s safe to say that pretty much every single one of your insecurities, and mine, boil down to one false belief we seem to all insidiously carry, some of us better at hiding it than others…

I am not enough.

Enough is enough, already.

I’m forty-six years old and I do not want to waste another minute of my life feeling not enough. Yet, still sometimes the feeling comes in uninvited waves, parting, receding, flaring up, dying down, depending on a variety of factors. Sometimes a beautiful ray of clarity will shine through me, and it reminds me of a new commitment…

When do you get to be enough, Lisa?

And I ask you, when do YOU get to be enough?

How about now?

Not when you lose that 20, 40, 60 pounds. Not when you get that man or have that baby or get that job or degree or house or whatever.

Your enoughness is implicit, because you are. Because you exist.

It’s a tricky dance, this fluctuation between wanting to be better and being enough. Some might say I am in the self-improvement business, or so it seems.

Truth of the matter is, I am in the emergence business. I am only interested in bringing forth what is within you, what is within me. We are born with our innate brilliance, our enoughness, already existing inside of us. We simply have to tap it, cultivate it, birth it.  “Improvement” is moot. Accessing is paramount. Enoughness almost seems paradoxical- and it is:

I am enough. AND I am emerging into a more brilliant and powerful version of myself.

I am always enough.

If we could remember that, all the time, in a perfect world, in a perfect brain, we would have no more insecurities. Our enoughness would be enough. Sure, we might be attracted to making positive changes to live more brilliantly, to make our experience here more awesome. While being enough.

How the hell does one even go about practicing enoughness?

It boils down to taking control of the thoughts we think, of changing course when our brain wants to go down that dark path, stopping it in its tracks, shifting it, taking charge of it. You are not the thought. You are the thinker of the thought. You’re the boss. Start acting like it.

Wouldn’t you rather think (and know) that you are enough, and do your life’s work from a compassionate, loving place? Sure, who wouldn’t?

To do so, we must begin to shift our thoughts– stop them dead in their tracks, choosing new thoughts. Practicing new thoughts.

I am enough. I am always enough.

So the next time you feel insecure thoughts attempting to wreak havoc in your mind, I challenge you to…

  1. Stop the thought– BAM. Catch it. Stop it.

  2. Strip the thought. What’s underneath it? (Hint: It’s always “I am not enough”.)

  3. Replace the thought. I am enough. I am a beautiful work in progress. I am an evolving, eternal being full of potential, and perfect in the right now place of my evolution.

  4. Breathe into those new thoughts, slowly. Really. Use your breath. Even if you don’t believe the thoughts, breathe into the possibility of them. When you affirm a new thought,  it doesn’t automatically work like some instant magic pixie dust, POOF. But you do create a welcoming place for it to take root. We’re talking new synapses that must form here, brain chemistry being altered, science, man. But we do get to choose.

I, for one, am really tired of the insidious toxicity of not-enoughness. It’s a liar, and a cheat. It’s already cost us too much. It’s wasted too much of our precious time. It’s destroyed too many lives.

I am enough. I am always enough. And so are you. Pass it on.

Support for When Things Suck

 

“Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need. Watch for the guru.”

Let’s call a spade a spade, here. Sometimes, life just sucks. Sometimes pain takes over and ruins everything. Sometimes shitty things happen. Sometimes watching for the guru feels impossible. Sometimes, screw the guru.

In the middle of our muck, our dark nights of the soul, when our lives are falling apart at the seams, when we’ve lost the very people or things we trusted most, whether we have infections, diseases, chronic pain, migraines, nosebleeds, bug bites, lay-offs, miscarriages, death, break-ups, any of these crappy things, finding the light, finding the good, claiming “everything happens for a reason” in the middle of some very sucky everythings… is just not humanly possible.

There it is: humanly possible.

And guess what we are? Souls walking around as human manifestations. What if we accepted that during certain times, it’s okay to wallow? It’s okay to surrender to the suck.

“Look for the bright side?” Eff you.

But what we can trust is the other side. There is always movement.

We are always moving toward the other side.

Sometimes it happens on its own, microscopic and minute, like the blooming of a bud, unseen with the human eye. Sometimes we work hard at it, like a construction crew with a deadline and a strip mall to build.

Sometime the only thing required to move out of the muck and the suck is to surrender and trust in the natural unfolding and healing salve of time.

In the meantime, if you need to whine, whine. Find your support team that will love you through.

If you need to scratch the rash, scratch it. Do what you need to do that will give you even fleeting seconds of relief.

If you need to cry, let the tears flow.

If you need to curl in a ball, retreat from the world, stop showering for a few days, go on, curl. You’ll save money on hot water.

If you need to destroy property, well, you might want to rethink that one… but you get my point.

Feel your broken heart. Grieve. Gripe. Groan. Give in to what needs to be felt and experienced.

So much of our pain comes when we are resisting our pain. When we are thinking that as spiritual people, we should always find the gifts in our pain, after all, we chose our pain, we created it, as some spiritual teachers will have us believe. And maybe sometimes we do. It’s quite the mind-numbing paradox.

But sometimes, suck just happens.

Over the last few years, one of my gurus has been a chronic nerve pain condition in my hip, back and leg that has sometimes debilitated me, sometimes turned me to a crying sack of gloom, has slowed me down, has pissed me off, has enraged me, has cost me lots of money, has shut down my life and kept me from the things I love to do… how the hell am I supposed to bless this guru? As a human being, how can I love this pain?

Yes, I am human, AND within me resides the infinite power of the universe. So sometimes I can access that, and use the Big Love when mine falls short. But, mostly, it’s when the pain subsides. It’s when a flare-up flares down.

It’s only when I’m on the other side, I have said, wow… I learned so much. I slowed down, I practiced exquisite self-care. I re-prioritized. I rested. I learned to count on friends. I practiced asking for help, receiving. I grew. Thanks, Guru, Chronic Pain.

But until then, when I am in the suck… it sucks, okay? Let’s stop trying to fool ourselves about that.

Be with your pain. Be with your suffering, be with your suck. Allow yourself to feel every ugly or pitiful feeling you need to feel. Wallow if you need to, cry, scream, whine, fully occupy your humanness and all of the messy, crappy, sticky, stinky, painful things that come with that.

Trust the other side. You’re always moving toward it.

A Double-Spaced Life

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I’d been doing it unconsciously for the last few weeks. And the other day I noticed.
I looked at my hand-written to-do list for the day, and between every task listed was a blank line. I’d skipped a space between every list item.
Interesting, I thought. And then as the deeper epiphany landed, I realized…
Whoa. This is my life now.
I’m living a double-spaced life.
Let me back up a little. I’ve been a purpose-driven, passion-fueled entrepreneur for more than fifteen years now. I’ve worn many hats, juggled many balls, spun many plates, had many irons in the fire, many pots on the stove, insert your preferred-busy-AF metaphor here. I was no stranger to overwhelm.
In fact, if you’ve been following my work over the years, you know I’ve written a blog or ten about busyness, overwhelm, stress and that constant gnawing feeling I know many of us are familiar with: I’m not doing enough. I should be getting more done. How am I going to get it all done? And if you looked at my to-do lists from the years gone by, not surprisingly, they were single-spaced, one task stacked tightly on top of the other.
I’ve also always found it interesting that I journal on my blank page notebooks from one end of the page to the other, with no margins to speak of. When I create a vision board, there is never any posterboard left peeking behind the images I paste onto it. Filling time, filling space, filling my life to overflowing was how I did life. It’s what I knew.
Until I began to know a different way.
This summer I let go of a huge part of my life and my work, when I decided to close the Burlesque Experience. I also scaled back considerably on the other events, workshops and programs I was offering.
In doing so, I created a spaciousness in my life that at times has been uncomfortable. Who am I now, without this work?
I’ve resisted the urge to create filler, to throw new things together hastily, so that I “still matter” so that I don’t disappear or go broke. Because for so much of my life, I assumed that my greatest contributions to the world required me to be spread too thin. As if this was the only way to be successful. I watered down my potency, my very essence, and it took a major crash and clearing for me to realize this.
Living in a chronic state of overwhelm is not possible without the help of our adrenal system to kick in like a furnace, to support us, give us the energy we need, but guess what? That’s not what adrenaline is for.
Our bodies are marvelously wired with adrenaline for emergency situations. We were never designed to use adrenaline for getting through daily life, for managing our daily to-do list, for the everyday fuel. Yet so many of us are relying on our adrenal systems for just such support.
Until we can’t anymore. Until our adrenal system is fried. Until our bodies say no more.  I was. And mine did.
I spent much of the summer healing my adrenal system through diet, a restorative adaptogen regimen, rest, self-care. And I vowed to do things differently, going forward.
One of the greatest gifts middle age is giving me is the wisdom to slow the heck down. To breathe. To create space, in my home and my work and my life. To leave blank days on the calendar and blank lines on the to-do list. To commit to less. To rest. To seek quality over quantity. To declutter and let go and scale down.
Realistically (though I hate to even type this), I’m in the second half of my life now. I have given myself permission to slow down.
I have given up the hustle to do, do, do, so much of the time, in order to focus instead on being magnetic and being potent—to just be, be, be more of who I am. I still need my business to generate revenue. I still have bills to pay and dreams to fund and a future to plan for. But I refuse to utilize panic and fear as my personal motivator any longer. I refuse to sacrifice my well-being and water myself down, I am done with being stressed out as a normal way of life.
Desperation, overwhelm, over-commitment and stress are no longer invited into my work day. I am far more interested now in being the flower rather than the bee. My bee days are behind me. Letting go in this way can feel scary. Especially for a recovering control freak. Yet what a beautiful way to practice deliberate actions, clear intentions and deep trust. I’ve even noticed the chronic pain I’ve dealt with for years is subsiding, I feel more embodied, of course I do. It’s a friendlier place in there.
New ideas are gestating within me, I am inspired to create more, to express more, to inspire more. There are still big things I have yet to create. In fact, I think my greatest impact and contributions to the world exist in my future, not my past.
But a lot has changed, and I am clearer than I have ever been. I refuse to utilize my adrenal system for day to day living. That means shorter task lists, less events, less overlapping projects, more focus, more self-care and ritual and spiritual care. More white space.
With more space available, I’m finding myself to be a more potent coach, a more present partner, a more available mother. I’m a better friend. My close relationships feel richer.
I am more emotionally (and physically) accessible, more joyful and more me. And it’s easy to understand why…
I am showing up for life, undiluted.
I have gone from a single-spaced life to a double-spaced life, and wow, does it feel great.

 

When you cannot change (no matter how hard you try.)

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“A leopard never changes its spots.”

Gosh, I hate that saying. I hate it because it’s nonsense. I’ve changed my spots many times. They’re changing right now, as a matter of fact. And I know many, many people who have drastically and dramatically changed themselves at the very core. Change happens.

But what about when it doesn’t? As a Life Coach who specializes in supporting people as they make lasting change in their lives, I’ve also seen plenty of stuckness. I’ve also been stuck.

What does it mean when you want to change, but no matter how or what you try, the change just doesn’t last? The new habits never gel. The old mindset won’t let go.

First things first, if you’re finding this to be the case in your life, there is nothing wrong with you.

I’ve become bona fide allergic to any form of thinking or self-reference that implies you are broken, damaged or “ruined”.  In fact, the most damaging thing about thinking you are damaged is the thinking-you-are-damaged part.  Our thoughts and beliefs are more powerful than we’ll ever know.

Tattoo this backwards on your forehead so every time you look in the mirror, you will read it: There is nothing wrong with me.

In a self-help society that profits from our damaged self-concept, it’s hard sometimes to buy this. But you can. Owning that there is nothing wrong with you is an act of civil disobedience. Rebel!

“Be full of yourself. You are good. You are very good.” – Patricia Lynn Reilly

Yet, while we strive to improve ourselves and step into our greatness by manifesting powerful changes in our lives, our habits, our ways of doing life, sometimes we just can’t even.

We may make some progress. One step forward, two steps back.

We may sabotage our own efforts.

We may not even be able to take the first step, but oh, we can talk about it so much we get sick of the sound of our own voices, saying the same thing over and over about what we need to do, month after month, year after year, about what we will do, someday… while we stay stuck.

Why? Why is being “well-meaning” so irrelevant to making lasting change?

Why is the road to hell paved with good intentions?

I have a few theories of my own, and they all involve letting yourself off the hook, for now. You ready?

* There is still juice in the old way. You haven’t made sustaining change in that area because you still have learning to do, you’re still growing, the lesson hasn’t rooted, or there is still some pay-off that you are getting that outweighs the risk, pain, danger or loss that making the change brings with it.

Ask yourself what you are still getting from not making the change.

Ask yourself what you are willing to learn in order to move on. Evaluate, compassionately, and know that there may be very important reasons under the surface, in spite of your seemingly compelling desire.

* You are fighting natural life cycles and authentic timing. When I was a little kid, I found a cocoon and thought I would help the butterfly out by slicing open the cocoon to set it free. You can guess how this story ends. A dead, black undeveloped cluster of goo. I killed it because it just wasn’t time.

Can you allow yourself the possibility that it’s just not time? Trust me, when natural timing of change is aligned and calibrated, the change happens, momentum is possible, efforts finally stick. Nature is wiser than we are.

* The change you are striving for on the outside is not in alignment with who you truly are. Perhaps you are trying to change because your partner wants you to, or you want to fit in, or stand out, or you are trying to change to keep up with what you think you’re supposed to be. True change must be rooted in truth.

Who are you, really? Who are you emerging into? Is the change you’re trying to create really all that important to you? Whose dream is this? Get clear and get honest.

* There’s a deeper, truer belief that needs to be addressed. Repeatedly running into the same old slips and relapses and repeats and redundancies means there is a deeper truth in conflict with your desire and there is still healing to do before real, true change can finally take root. Debbie Ford called these truths “Underlying Commitments.”

When the change you desire is consistently sabotaged by conflicting choices or behaviors, there quite often is a deeper desire, a deeper commitment or belief that won’t let go until we heal it. For many, that belief is “I don’t deserve true success.” Or “I will always be a screw-up.” Or “I am committed to playing small.” So guess what our actions will support?

Our actions are always a reflection of our true commitments and beliefs, even before we discover what those deeply-rooted commitments and beliefs are.

Instead of relentlessly beating yourself up because the change you are trying to make just won’t stick, what if you turned within, with compassion and kindness and explored what might be keeping you stuck?

What if you dared to trust that true change happens when the timing is right, when the healing is complete, when the leopard is truly ready to change its spots?

Until then, go easy on yourself. Be gentle. Be kind. Be present.

And dare to trust in Life’s wisdom, and the natural nature of your life’s own unique and perfect evolution.

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

 

Those Undesirable Unmentionables: Hello, Shadow!

69278_10150881061583473_1913608398_n“I just want to lose my desire for love. I hate needing approval. I hate being needy. I’ve asked the Universe to remove these defects in me. This neediness in me is pathetic.”

A new client wrote this to me last week, and when I read it, I felt a stirring in my heart, a sadness, a sorrow for this woman, who feels that her desires are so undesirable, and burdensome. I have been this woman.

I wonder what hurts she must have experienced, to want these desires gone. I felt a heaviness thinking about her pain and frustration with herself and her innate desires, her own human nature.

It stirs me every time I come across someone I care about who is fighting who they are at the core.

It saddens me every time I come across someone who is desperately trying to reject their human qualities, in order to be more spiritual, closer to God, or in order to simply feel less.

Our desire for love, approval and appreciation makes us so very human, This desire is a primitive, innate, and powerful driver. To deny it exists, to reject this part of ourselves is to reject our humanity, our very essence as human beings.

From the moment we are born, we seek love. As small children, our identities are shaped by attachment and approval. It’s how we learn to be human, we are formed through connection, we need each other.

Last night, dancing with a group of women in my BodyLove Affair Rendezvous, we stopped dancing to debrief after a soulful shake-up.

We talked about the ways we are “supposed” to be, the parts of us that are easy to accept. And the parts of us that are… less easy. The not-so-pretty parts. The undesirable unmentionables.

We talked about the pressure to appear as we have it all together, at all times, when really, on the inside, we are screaming, we are wailing. We are pieces held together with tape and chewing gum, and one blast of wind might send us into smithereens, or so it seems.

Our shadow is described as the parts of us that we reject or hide, from the world or ourselves.

And guess what? What we resist persists.

I’ve been there. This self-rejecting path was the way I lived. Parts of me were easy to accept and love. Others, not so much.

Like my client, neediness is also one of my shadow traits. I spent the first three and a half decades of my life trying to “not be needy.”

I am fiercely independent, so being or seeming needy had always been loathsome and avoidable at all costs. And it cost me a great deal: True, deep intimacy and connection with others.

Because I am human, I have needs.

And sometimes, I am even needy. I accept this now.

I continue to do my shadow work, which is, I promise, a lifelong project. I am learning to embrace my neediness. The needy part of me is very young, and very precious, and deserves my love.

When she is triggered, I am learning to acknowledge her and love her. I do not reject her. I do not send her away. I see her. I allow her. I tend to her.

What I’m also learning is that as I continue my healing work and personal evolution, my need for outer validation, love, appreciation or approval does not drive me the way that it used to.

It’s there, as I mentioned, I’m human, and plan on being so for a while longer, so I don’t wish it away or reject it.

But what’s naturally happening is I am finding direct access to my own love. The love that I am. After all, why seek what you already are?

I’m tapping into a deeper source for these feelings, that of my own soul’s wellspring of love and worthiness. I do not rely on outer validation for my worth. But I still desire it. Who doesn’t!? It feels great!

This is evolution. This is a revolution.

What parts of you do you find difficult to love or accept?

And what if the most difficult parts of you to love were the most precious?

How might they transform if you simply embraced these shadowy parts, acknowledged them as part of your totality? Your wholeness?

You are all things.

You are light and shadow. And the more acceptance and acknowledgment, curiosity, compassion, love and allowance you offer to your shadow, the less shadowy it becomes.

You grow, you evolve, you heal. And you don’t need to reject, change or pray away any part of you.

Let me tell you about my 2016.

Photo by Dee Hill.
Photo by Dee Hill.

It happens every year, right around this time. I get to feeling super reflective, looking back at the year I am completing, culling and sifting through the details to find the juice, to find the gains, the growth, the stuff to feel proud of.

AND I start getting antsy as hell for a brand new year. A clean slate. A fresh start. I itch for it. I crave its freshness, its potential, its possibilities.

Like clockwork, here I am. I’m ready.

There’s no denying, for millions of us, 2016 has been an intense, eventful year of shifts, transitions, collective loss, collective grief, fear, and pain.

AND everything else.

While yes, we’ve been challenged, we’ve also been blessed.

I’m not suggesting we ignore our pain, or bypass our struggles, pretending they didn’t exist, but let’s widen our scope, to really take it all in. There was so much good. If we want to admit it.

Before we move into 2017, I want to present to you some some questions for reflection.

Take some time to consider, journal, contemplate, make art, chat through the questions and answers with friends, whatever! It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it does make a difference when you do it.

I’ll go first.

If you asked me what I learned this year, I’d tell you this.

I am far more powerful than I realized. I can do what I thought impossible. I am my own hero.

I learned that I can’t do it alone.

I learned that my body is my friend. I’ve learned that my body is boss. I learned that my body is an animal. She’s a mammal. And she’s far wiser than I ever gave her credit for.

If you asked me what I let go of this year, I’d tell you this.

I let go of the story that I want or need alcohol in my life. I let go of the story that life was too hard without it. I let go of the story that life was no fun without it. I let go of the belief that “I can’t.”

I let go of the need to change my body before I love her. I said bye-bye to diets, once and for all.

I let go of my excuses. Most of them, at least.

If you asked me what I gained this year, I’d tell you this.

Confidence. Power. Strength. Understanding. Pride. Self-trust. Intimacy. Inspiration. Love, love, love. Lots of love.

If you asked me how I changed this year, I’d tell you this.

I used to think I knew what freedom was. And then I found new freedom. I got out of my own way, once and for all. I have re-built the broken trust I had with myself. I let love in. I learned to be supported. I did brave things, and got braver in the process. I took chances, I stretched, in my life, my relationships, my business. I made myself proud, very proud. I discovered things about myself I wasn’t aware of, by getting sober. I discovered more of my shadows. I discovered more of my light.

If you asked me to create a picture of myself, in relation to this year, I’d show you this.

I am turning, I am spinning, to a rhythmic beat, my arms extended, stretched in the air, my head thrown back, I am dancing, I am smiling, I am laughing.

If you asked me to sum it all up, this big, outrageous, intense, helluva year, I’d tell you this.

Thank you. Wow. Yes. Ahhhhhh… Hell yeah.

What about you?

What did you learn this year? How have you changed this year? What did you let go of? What did you gain? Create a picture of yourself, in relation to this year. And sum it all up.

I want to know.

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A gift for you! Download my printable Old Year/New Year Card Game. Great for parties, circles, journaling, or long walks on the beach. Grab yours here. It’s free!

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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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.

 

 

The Holiness of Wholeness

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Photo by Dee Hill, mirror mosaic and mask by Julia Schoss

We’re all guilty. We’re so quick to sort and classify ourselves and each other, our feelings and experiences into convenient categories:  good or bad, sinner or saint, villain or hero, black and white.

We have our preferences. We think we know. We fancy ourselves as experts of the definitive: Who we are. Who we are not. What we want. What we don’t want. What we are. What we are not.

We do the same with our beliefs, our spirituality, our values and our mistakes and shortcomings. Holiness is over there, on one side, while being flawed, being human is on the other.

I’m taking a different approach these days.  I invite you to consider that the holiness is in our wholeness. Our holiness is not just our “best” parts. Not simply our gifts and light and strength and perfection. Our holiness is in all that AND the rest. We contain all of this greatness and power and magic, AND every possible opposite because we are whole. We are human beings. We are body and soul. We are limitlessness and limits. We are everything.

We have moments that are transcendent, that put us in direct, palpable contact with the divine. I love those moments. Not gonna lie, they’re my favorite, and I’d prefer them over a deep blue funk any day. But can I also call a deep blue funk holiness? I’m learning.

When I remember to, I am developing a soft and open understanding of the holiness of my wholeness. Not just my light. Not just my bliss. Not just those transcendent moments. Wholeness. Totality. All of it.

Am I saying screw it all and just be as awful as you want to be and do whatever damaging, dangerous, destructive, shitty things you feel like doing and call it divine totality? Am I saying that we should call the horrific things that happen to us or others “good” and embrace them with open arms? Of course not.  Moral compasses, values, commitments, love, forgiveness, compassion, consequences and law are necessary systems for personal pride, strength, happiness, not to mention societal success as well.

What I am saying is this. When we put our divinity over there, and our humanity over here, our spirituality over here and our sexuality over there, our courage over here and our fears over there, under canopies of good or bad, when we separate the two, when we classify our components so severely, we do ourselves a injustice.

Want to connect with your holiness? Take your light, take your shadows, take your bliss, take your anger, take your successes, your missteps, your struggles, your raw and honest vulnerability, your broken places, your hidden places, take them all and draw a great big circle around them.

That is holiness.

Your wholeness is holiness. Not just the ‘good parts’. In fact, it’s dangerous to shuffle pieces of ourselves into this elaborate, hungry, filing system of categories and labels and judgments, as by doing so further deepens the chasm between our parts, separating us from our wholeness, and our holiness. We remain fragmented, our lonely, isolated parts starving for wholeness, for integration.

Your body breathes, your soul is the breath. Your body sweats and bleeds and poops and farts. Your soul is infinite, powerful and perfect. You would not be you without them both creating wholeness together.

One is not holier than the other. They’re a perfect union, magical and messy, mighty and whimpering, pure and shadowy, glittery and dull, brave and terrified. Even your secrets, your sins, your pain are holy parts of you.

The next time you find yourself sorting and organizing parts of yourself. Classifying and separating your spirituality from your humanity, I dare you to stop. I dare you to transcend, lift yourself above all of the words and labels and categories, draw a circle around them all.

That is your wholeness. The sacred, sexy whole of it all.

Holy, wholly you.