love

Hey, Jealousy

jealousy

In my last blog, we talked about the hidden gifts of envy, and I promised to share with you my thoughts on jealousy next time. Next time is here!

Jealousy is one of my least favorite feelings. It can bring out the worst in me.  I also know it comes bearing gifts, when I remember to look for them.

Let’s clarify the difference between envy and jealousy. While both can be equally yucky, envy tells us what we want by pointing at what someone else has or is.

Jealousy is a bit different. Jealousy comes from a sense of feeling threatened, and there are usually three parties involved with jealousy. Here are some examples…

  • Husband hires new assistant. You Facebook-stalked her and she is cute. You suddenly feel uneasy and worry about them spending so much time together at work.
  • Best friend gets new guy, you hardly ever see her anymore, and when you do, he’s usually there, or she’s talking incessantly about him. You feel forgotten and unimportant in her life.
  • Again, you find out that your dad and your sister got together for lunch. You’d sure like to have been invited. It’s always been like that, you’re certain he loves her more.
  • Boyfriend has new job and he is head over heels in love with it. He eats, sleeps and breathes his work, you’ve never seen him so fired up. Except when he first fell in love with you. Would be nice if he was as passionate about you as he is about his job.

Get the idea? As you see in the last example, the three parties don’t even have to be all human. In fact, I’ve heard of (and maybe/maybe not, even personally felt) jealousy over a business, a pet, a car, sports, anything that feels like “there’s less/not enough fill-in the-blank for me.”

What is your fill-in-the-blank? What are you afraid of getting less of?

Could be time, attention, affection, validation, love…  no matter what the details, here’s what jealousy really boils down to. Under the details, stories and reasons, there’s fear.

Jealousy is fear.

Fear of what? Losing who or what you love? Being forgotten? Change? Being unsafe? Being alone? Being unloved? All of the above? You decide. Investigate your jealousy.

And if you dig a little deeper, underneath the fear, you’ll find a core belief that is so common, so prevalent, yet most of us are barely aware of its existence.

The core belief is this: I am not enough.

Here’s a step-by-step process, to put into immediate practice, the next time you feel triggered with feelings of jealousy.

  1. Notice and name.“What is this yucky feeling? Why did I suddenly get bitchy and want to lash out? Oh… I’m feeling jealous.” Locate the feeling in your body. Notice the sensations… “Ah there it is. It feels like a rock in my chest. My face feels hot and my ears are prickly.”
  2. Open. “I know that jealousy is informative. Okay, I’ll open myself up to experiencing something different with this feeling. What gift do you have for me, jealousy?”
  3. Listen. Your jealousy wants to tell you something. Jealousy is fear. What are you afraid of? Identify your fear(s). Then, go deeper. Under the fear, what is a core belief that this fear is rooted in?
  4. Brainstorm. “What can I do today/this week/this month that will help ME feel safer, more grounded, that will plant me in my own enoughness?”
  5. Reach out. If you need to reach out to that person, be specific, own your shit and be direct. “When I hear you talk so much about your new friend, I’m finding myself feeling jealous. I know that’s mine, it’s rooted in a fear that maybe I’m not enough for you. I’m working on that fear, will you help me by reminding me of why you choose to be with me? Sometimes, it’s just really helpful to hear it.” Being direct with our desires and needs requires vulnerability, and it’s not the “easiest” thing to do, but on the other side is deeper intimacy.
  6. Do. Jealousy is rooted in a feeling of being unsafe. You are a safe place for every feeling. What can you do to feel safe? How can you be reassuring friend to yourself? Affirmations like “I am safe. I am enough.” “I will be okay, no matter what.” are helpful and simple and cost nothing to practice daily. Meditate. Talk to a friend. Stand barefoot in the grass to ground with the earth, make a list of all the brave things you’ve accomplished, because you’re capable, smart, you’re enough. Baby yourself. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket and put on sweet music. Nurture yourself.

You are enough. You are always enough. You have no idea how enough you are.

We so often rely on the outside world, external circumstances and other people for our sense of safety, when in actuality, we alone are the safest place.

Yes, we need each other. Yet, when we understand that we, ourselves, are enough, jealousy doesn’t have much power. We know that we are the most reliable, trustworthy, solid and steady sources of safety available, and that nothing can threaten that. Fears lose their charge, because we can trust ourselves to see us through anything.

We will be okay no matter what. Jealousy can lead us home, when we turn to it with tenderness and curiosity.

It can lead us to our enoughness. And returned to our enoughness, we come home, again and again.

So, next time you feel jealousy rearing its head, think this: Jealousy is an invitation to love myself better.

Fashion Rules, Pumpkin Spice, Leggings, Shaming and a Better Way

mean-girls

A couple years ago, I decided to cut my hair because I’d been hearing and reading that women over 40 should not have long hair. I did it. I hated it. I could not grow my long hair back quickly enough.

I decided then to have long hair forever and ever amen, or at least as long as I wanted to.

Call it a perk of being in my 40s, but something new is emerging in me, and I’m embracing and welcoming an absolute resolve to wear what I want, be who I want, ignore “fashion rules” when I want. I’m getting better at loving myself, and one way I show love to me is by dressing and adorning myself in ways that please me. About me. For me. Screw the “rules”.

Let’s stop telling each other how to dress, what clothes or hair or shoes or whatnot is age appropriate, size appropriate, life appropriate.

If you like it, it’s appropriate.

And can we quit with this “basic” thing, please? It’s become a running quip that liking Uggs and pumpkin spice and yoga pants makes you “basic.” I am not defending Uggs specifically, because I personally don’t like them, but I promise not to judge you or your worth or your depth by the boots you choose to wear, even if I think they’re Uggly.  And somehow pumpkin spice and yoga pants have worked their way into the “basic” qualifying checklist, among other preferences and likes. Can we all come to terms with how dumb that is?

Like what you like. Let me like what I like.

Here’s the thing. We are all basic. And none of us are.

It is not your business what I wear and or how I like my lattes.

We joke “Haha, I’m so basic!” as a way of diffusing this, I suppose. It helps. Offsetting, detracting, self-deprecating silliness, sure.

But this woman-on-woman ridiculing– we cannot afford it. It is a waste of time and energy and eats away at any sort of progress we are making together as women. Subtle, like termites, but damaging nonetheless.

A quick Google search of “fashion rules” brought up 146,000,000 hits. Apparently there are a lot of people with a lot to say about how I should or shouldn’t dress.

The infamous “People of Wal-Mart” has over 1.3 million followers on Facebook alone, mostly by posting ridiculing pictures of people, mostly women, and their outfits, without their even knowing they are being photographed.

The shaming has got to stop.

If we’re going to band together to save the world like the superheroes we are, like a world in crisis needs us to, we have got to stop with the subtle and not-so-subtle ridiculing and shaming, and turn our judgment inward, as an opportunity to reflect on the question “Who the hell do I think I am?”

It’s a humbling question. And it’s the curiously contrary flipside to the paradox that we are eternal, ethereal, divine and powerful. But at the same time, who the hell do we think we are when we pass judgment, in jest or in seriousness, on the way another woman is expressing herself, dressing or not dressing, adorning herself, taking her coffee, wearing leggings as pants, long hair over 40, white after labor day, shaving or not shaving?

It is not our place. It does not matter.

What matters more is showing up in the world expressively reflecting the beauty and radiance that exists within you. Looking to the woman we’re inclined to judge and noticing and drawing attention to the beauty and radiance that exists within her.

What matters more is having the freedom to be exactly who you are, and honoring and respecting my freedom to be exactly who I am.

What matters more is that we stand up for each other, with each other, that we set down our protective mechanisms of judgment, snark, sarcasm and ridicule, and embrace a braver, more vulnerable, more accepting, more compassionate and more loving way of being a woman.

Imagine, just imagine, how beautiful we’d all be, if we lived like this every day. If we showed up for one another like this every day. Or even every other day. Imagine what we could accomplish together.

Trust me, I’m not claiming to be perfect. I am not claiming to be immune or righteous or some magnanimous being, floating around, sending love 24/7.  Of course I sometimes slip into this cheap and easy way of sorting and classifying and organizing the world. I’m tempted and sometimes succumb in conversations, before I realize it, mindlessly munching on this low-hanging fruit of female bonding. But I’m getting better at noticing it, and at choosing differently.

So if we’re hanging out, and you catch me in this sort of conversation, call me out, stop me. Remind me there’s a better way.

There’s a higher fruit, up there, in the top branches. It’s juicy, full of nourishment and love and respect and support. And it’s delicious. Wanna bite? There’s plenty for everyone, just requires a little more reach and a little more stretch.

 

Adventures with Ego (My Clever, Cunning Sidekick)

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You may have heard me say many times that I am not an “ego-basher”. I don’t wish to kill my ego, or destroy it, or even transcend it at this point, because, well, I’m human and I’m here to have a human experience, and egos come in handy while being human. They make the short blip of our human experience that much more… human.

Instead, I like to think of Ego as my sidekick. A crafty, clever, cunning and paranoid sidekick that likes to arm wrestle my heart and soul for power.

Ego needs to be kept in check. She brings her own unique qualities and gifts, perhaps for another blog, but when left to her own devices, with uncanny finesse, she can rapidly turn any situation to shit.

Take last night, for example.

My fiance’ Matt came home and wanted to share a story. He even set up the story to let me know it would be a feel-good story.

He was at the gas station, filling up. A young woman, my daughter’s age or younger was having car trouble, and quite upset. Without getting into car-talk here, he helped her. He helped her, her car started, it felt good, she was grateful, and he felt blessed by being able to bless her, and get her back on the road.

I could feel myself, while he told the story, getting triggered… I was not able to celebrate his good deed. Ego was activated. Silly jealousy laced with insecurities and I blurted snottily “What makes you think I’m impressed by your tales of rescuing the damsel in distress?” Sweet, huh?

I even managed to follow up with a nice jab (more like a low-blow) in there about a long-ago relationship choice he had made before we met that still bugs me (or I still enjoy judging)– I’m talking a story more than ten years old! Ego lets nothing go.

Then, I saw it happen before my eyes: the pride and glimmer in his eyes deflated like a pierced balloon. He shook his head and shot some angry comment at me, and Ego felt nice and smug and best of all, right and the rest of me, my heart and soul, felt like crap.

I tried the “I’m sorry baby, but…” still holding onto my righteous (and ridiculous) position. That didn’t help him or me feel better. Because it wasn’t an apology, really. It was righteousness in disguise as an apology! Ugh, I’m ridiculous.

I wanted him to understand what I meant, that I was right, that I was entitled to my feelings of jealousy and insecurity and yada yada yada. I totally made the story about me. And organically, it had NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. At its root, I had stolen his moment, I had hurt his feelings, yet I was too caught up in my own stupid head drama to even catch it. I wanted him to understand me.

I milked my crappy feeling for a while, then realized I did not want to feel crappy, wasn’t on the agenda for the evening.  I started thinking about it. Heart guided these thoughts… I realized that I had basically hijacked his moment, made it about me, and now we both felt shitty.  Ego, you are so crafty!

Finally, my heart put her foot down. Yes, Heart has a foot. Heart decided just friggin’ apologize. No justifications, no excuses, no positioning. Just an apology.

“I’m sorry I made you feel bad, baby. You didn’t deserve that. You’re such a good man.”

And I meant it. Because it’s true. He is. And damned if I’m going to let my Ego distract me from that.

While Ego didn’t win the battle last night, I’m sure she’ll be vying for power again. That’s what she does, after all, that’s how she survives. And she LOVES to feel threatened, insecure, triggered. It gives her purpose and passion and power. She gets to steer for a little bit, ruin a good story or an entire night, if she has her way. She gets off on this stuff, you know.

Luckily, Heart and Soul are onto her, and they stopped her in her tracks, turned the story around and saved the night. Love wins (this one.)

The Bravest Girl I Know

maddi fairy

Later this week, my daughter and I hit the road as I accompany her toward the next chapter of her adventurous life.

Maddi, who just turned 20, has decided to spend her summer working on an organic farm in Colorado. The trip will take us 13 hours, if we don’t stop. But we will. I want it to last.

This only child of mine, this brave, intelligent, bold and beautiful woman is my favorite person to be with. She’s funny, sensitive, insightful and has always been wise beyond her years.

This spirit of adventure that she possesses burns in her like a fire, and she takes on experiences like no one I’ve ever been.

Shortly after high school, she signed her first apartment lease.  Later the next year, she took a five week road trip all over the country with her best friend. She camped on the beach, she talked to strangers, she wandered unknown towns and cities, deserts and shores. She saw, firsthand, beauty I’ve only seen in photos.

Earlier this year, she saved her money, got a passport, and followed her heart across the ocean, to meet her British beau who she had only known previously online. She spent two weeks in the UK, returning home with London calling, new experiences morphed into new dreams and desires.

She bravely makes art. She bravely makes money making art.

She is a gentle spirit but is not one to be taken advantage of. She is sweet, but no pushover. She is a Taurus, and stubborn as hell when she wants to be, and will buck and fight hard for her convictions. This is the child after all, who at age eight, wrote her dad and I an essay on why she wanted to be a vegetarian after months and months of our meat-loving resistance.  She has been a vegetarian ever since.

She has a sense of self that has surprised me since she was a tiny girl. It’s always been there, strong and sturdy, even through some challenging times during her adolescence, even while some of her peers struggled in frightening, heartbreaking ways. Even when her house was split in two, and she learned how to have two beds, two homes, she’s faced it all with courage.

She’s wild and tender, she’s fire and water.

She faces the world with curiosity, openness, willingness, boldness, and her heart in the shape of a big fat YES.

I want to be more like her.

As I think about her embarking on this new chapter, one full of mysteries and unknowns, bravely walking away from what is safe and familiar– her job, her friends, her parents, the only hometown she remembers, to see what is out there for her, my eyes well with tears.10264893_1442653222639366_400777618122208778_n

Of course I worry, like any mama, I worry a lot. But mostly, I champion for her. My heart pounds for her, my prayer is that the world will treat her gently and kindly, and if they do not, she can turn back around, she can change direction, she can try something new, she can always come home, she can always change her mind.

I hope her dad and I, and the people who love her, have instilled in her the tools and traits she needs out there, I think we have.

But funny thing is, I am who I am for the tools and traits she’s instilled in me.

Maddi, I’m rooting for you. Go be wild. Be brave. See it all. Taste it all. Feel it all. The world awaits you.

Relatives. Related. Relating. Relate.

Brother, father, me. Relating
Brother, father, me. Relating.

I was homesick and I didn’t even know it.

It had been a few years since I’d visited my hometown of Chicago. My fiancé had never been, and I longed to see my family, to introduce my dad to my future and final husband. It was time.

When I moved to Dallas sixteen years ago with my then-husband (still family) and our three year-old daughter, it was with the intention of “trying it out for a year.” We are all still here.

Dallas has been good to me.  I have grown, I have built a career, I have raised a daughter. I have started companies and taken risks and discovered dreams and released other dreams.

I have fallen deeply, wildly in love with my perfectly imperfect life, in a rich and complicated way here. I belong here.

Yet, in my reinvention, in my “belonging here”, I had also detached from my origins. I had forgotten where I was from.

Sure, I “knew” where I was from, but existing a thousand miles away in a self-created family, in a life full of meaning, adventures, fun, distractions and excuses, I’d found it easy to almost act as if I had no family of origin at all.

It kills me to say that out loud, when I love my family of origin very much. I know I am related TO them. But the truth is, I haven’t been very good at being related with them. As I think about the word “related”, it’s not just semantics, not just a matter of blood and DNA, there is something active and engaged about the idea of being related to. It’s also about relating.

What happens when we fail at relating with our related? The babies turn into kids, the kids turn into adults. There are divorces, deaths, weddings, funerals, more babies. When you leave your place of origin, and do a lousy job of staying in touch, life goes on without you. But even worse, even worse than missing birthday parties and barbecues, is the longing, the longing you might not even be able to name.

The longing to know and be known, to see and be seen, in a way that only family can do. These are, after all, the ones that were there all along. The ones that “knew you when.”

That I have siblings I don’t know, as they become adults, I am ashamed. Not only because I don’t know who they are, but because I have failed at knowing them. I’m not gonna lie, I have sucked at “doing” family. Especially the long-distance kind. For a variety of reasons, some elaborate, some nothing more bullshit excuses, I have been able to justify my gross negligence.  I’m done making excuses for my distance and detachment.

This visit brought me home. Not just to a physical place, but to myself, to the roots of my existence, to the love and belonging I cannot ignore, because it is the very blood that flows through me.

Spending quality time with my dad, my siblings, cousins, grandma, nieces, aunts and uncles was a gift bigger than I had expected to receive.

My dad’s hair has silvered since my last visit. His eyes have grown softer. His smile is brighter, it seems, and his voice is kinder than I remember.

My baby brother is nearing middle age, like me. Without me.  For hours the other day, we pored over coffee and pie and truth-telling, searching each other for the answers to life’s mysteries. Just like always.

The bond we three share cannot be broken, and I am grateful for one more chance to hug them both.

My youngest brother is a man now. My little sister, a woman. They are strangers. Yet they are not, because we are related. We share the blood of the same father. I hardly know what they are like. But the love. The love is there.

Time has been slipping away while I have conveniently forgotten birthdays and holidays and this isn’t the blog I started out writing, I’ve digressed into a vulnerable place, but it’s what’s true and real for me. And if I can’t give you that, then we have nothing, right?

I want to be better.

I am willing and prepared and perhaps, finally mature enough, to exert the effort it requires to show that I give a damn, to reach out, to acknowledge, to not just love in feeling and thought, but in action. Love is a verb, they say.

I’m scared, I’ve gotten away with my detachment for so many years. Now I am calling myself to a higher standard and it requires me to grow up, to commit. It’s frightening to love with more than words and thoughts.

At the end of the trip, getting home to Dallas felt so good. Yes, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and missed my bed, I missed my comfy, cozy life.

But going home to Chicago was medicine I didn’t even know I needed.

It helped me to remember who I am, and what is most important to me.

Love.

And relating.

 

 

Getting the Support You Need

As an occasional offering, I invite you to write with your questions or topic suggestions. I will answer all either privately or in this space. It’s my intention that my words will bring hope and new clarity. Here’s one…

a-alone-1530422Dear Lisa,

I could use some perspective on how to reach out for support when that isn’t my usual M.O., without freaking out the people I am reaching out to.

Generally speaking, I am mostly level-headed and together and don’t typically ask for moral support from my friends or family.

They will either freak out that I am “not completely fine and normal” or won’t have any perspective that would actually help me.

How do I overcome my resistance to asking for help because I’m fearful of upsetting the people that I would reach out to or I’m already predicting their reactions as not helpful.

For instance, I wouldn’t want to call my mom and be like “I’m not dealing very well” cause that would burden her for weeks that somehow the possibly most together person in her life isn’t “okay”. I can’t call my BFF cause his reaction would be “that sucks.” Knowing that my husband is managing enough with his current struggles and burdens, I cannot turn to him.

Signed,
Need It, But How Do I Get It?

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Dear Need It,

I relate very well to your resistance and struggle reaching out for help, all too well! It ain’t easy!

Especially if over the years, you’ve owned the title of “The Strong One,” because the Strong One handles it all herself. The Strong One needs no support, and is the one doing the supporting. The Strong One has her shit together, carries on with valor and courage and is Teflon tough and ugh… being the Strong One is exhausting.

I used to joke, and actually still do, that one day, I will start hosting clandestine meetings for the “Secret Society of Strong Ones.”

We will meet monthly to cry.

It’s actually not a bad idea.

Some of the best advice I ever got was from my therapist, Bob, many years ago.  It happened like this. I was in trouble, but I couldn’t fathom turning to anyone for support, not even my husband at the time, Johnny…

Bob: How would it feel to you if Johnny came to you and said “Look, I’m not doing so well. I’m struggling and really need your support right now.”

Me: It would touch me deeply. I would feel honored. And I would do everything I could to support hin in the way he needed. It would feel like a gift, to be able to show up for him during a difficult time.

Bob: Right. So when you hold back asking for help, you deny others the gift of being able to show up for you, you cheat them of the opportunity of being there for you.

BAM. Changed my perspective, instantly, completely.

I’m not going to say it suddenly became easy to reach out for help when I needed it. It’s still incredibly difficult.

But I trust my needs for support as part of this beautiful cosmic dance of intimacy we get to share with others.

We give. We receive. We need. We offer. We hurt. We help. We heal. We heal each other.

And this dance relies on vulnerability for its rhythm.

I’m going to suggest three things to you.

1.Resign your position as Director of Protecting Others from What is Really Going On. It’s an unfulfilling, lonely gig, and you deserve to be supported in the same way you support others. I repeat: You deserve to be supported in the same way you support others.

2. Get clear on what type of support you are needing. Let your intimates know, very specifically, what you are needing. That right now, you need a compassionate ear or a shoulder to cry on or a place to vent or a safe space to be real with what is current without their advice or fixing. Or maybe with their advice or fixing. You decide.

Sounds scary because it is and it requires vulnerability, but like a muscle, when you practice, it gets stronger.

3. Broaden your circle of support. I love the saying “Stop going to the hardware store for milk.” It sounds like you already have determined that the type of support they will offer may not be helpful. There is support all around. Make a list of other people you know truly care about you– even if you’ve never “gone there” with them– this could be a perfect opportunity to deepen those relationships.

If that doesn’t work, check out 7 Cups of Tea. They offer free, confidential and professional counseling online.

We are wired to need one another.

Sure, you could “get by” without reaching out. But by risking your own reputation of being the Strong One, by deciding that you will no longer shoulder these burdens alone, by opening your heart to telling the truth about what is current and real for you now, you become more YOU, more authentic. You will experience deeper intimacy in your relationships, and you will gift others with the opportunity to show up for you in a new way.

You can find the support you need.

It’s there. It rarely comes knocking.

We ourselves must do the knocking.

So start knocking, sweet sister.

I wish you courage and send you love,
Lisa

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The suggestions and opinions offered on this site are not meant to dissuade any reader from seeking the advice and care of his or her own appropriate and licensed health care provider. The reader is strongly encouraged to seek out and establish a meaningful relationship with such a provider who will have the opportunity and responsibility to examine him or her and offer individualized health care suggestions and services.

A Valentine’s Day Attitude Adjustment

valentines-day-sucks-0“I hate Valentine’s Day. It’s just a made-up holiday!” My friend complained to me, exasperated once again by the pressures, expenses and obligations wrapped up in February 14th.

“All holidays are made-up holidays, aren’t they?” I replied. We chuckled… and realized it’s true.

If you’re not into Valentine’s Day, if you find yourself crabby or resistant toward it, and that’s working for you, by all means, stick with your strategy.

However, if it’s a made-up holiday, you can make it mean anything you want it to mean.

Here’s the real kicker: It’s all made-up. Everything. You’re making it all up now.

Whatever belief you hold about Valentine’s Day, about love, romance, about men, about relationships: You made it up.

And Life, being the magnetic and responsive co-creator that she is, has been eagerly collecting evidence, old and new, to support your beliefs, so that your beliefs are validated by your experiences.

It’s crazy and magical and powerful and true.  And it’s a tremendous responsibility, being a creator of beliefs and experiences.

So this Valentine’s Day, are you open to an attitude adjustment?

What non-awesome beliefs are you supporting? What less-than-empowering beliefs are you choosing? Here are some I hear often:

–          There are no “good men” left.

–          I am only attracted to the bad boys and jerks. Nice guys bore me.

–          Why do I always fall in love with unavailable men?

–          What is wrong with me that I can’t find love?

–          Once I lose the weight, I’ll be able to start dating again.

–          When I find him, my life will be complete.

And how are those beliefs working for you? Are you ready for something different?

Choose your beliefs carefully. They become your reality.

How to reverse an embedded non-awesome belief? Here’s one of my favorite tricks. Have an arsenal of rebuttals ready and then bomb the belief with your rebuttals every time you find yourself engaging in the belief.

For example, let’s take the belief “All men are jerks.”

Arsenal of Rebuttals:

  • No they’re not.
  • I can name ten awesome men I know right now…
  • I am lucky enough to watch my bestie in love with a great guy.
  • I’ve had some crappy experiences, but I have to trust there are some awesome men out there.
  • I know there’s someone out there who will be a great match for me.

Initially, you needn’t even believe your rebuttals. Just bomb the belief. Over and over again. Eventually new synapses start to take place in your brain. Your subconscious starts seeking new evidence, to support these repetitive  rebuttals. Slowly but surely, they become beliefs and a world of new possibilities is opened.

What if Valentine’s Day was about celebrating the love of your life? YOU.

There is no one else as committed to living with you as you are. No one else who can love you as well as you can. No one else as deserving of your own love and affection as you are.

So what if you started a tradition this year, that Valentine’s Day is a time for self-pampering?  For spoiling yourself. For extra treats and decadences. Hold yourself in high regard and court yourself like a lover.

What if Valentine’s Day was an opportunity to celebrate your divinely bestowed sensuality? Celebrate your senses and all the pleasures you are entitled to, simply because you are alive. Taste, smell, touch, hear. There is just so much, everywhere, for you to savor.

If you’re finding Valentine’s Day to be a dreaded, high-pressure, or alienating event, what if you made Valentine’s Day simply about LOVE and celebrated accordingly? Express your love to all those you come in contact with. It’s a made up holiday, after all! Make it up to your liking. Redefine it, make it matter, celebrate your divine core, which is love!

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Spread the love… Share below the loving, sweet things you’ll be doing for yourself this Valentine’s Day, to celebrate your very essence: LOVE.

We are shaped by what we love.

We are shaped by what we love.

Every person, every thing, every creature, every way we have loved has carved us, molded us, formed us. We are composites of every choice… to love or to not love, every sweeping tidal wave of love that has ever knocked us over, every tsunami of love that has stormed through our lives, leaving us in a broken heap, wondering if we would ever love again, every outpouring of love that has washed over us, cleansed us and made us new and beautiful, love that has shown us how to give, how to receive, how to be love.

I had the honor to share sacred space with an intimate group of women this past Sunday, at our monthly WomenCircle. Being curiously drawn to the question and topic lately, I decided to focus on the subject of love and how it has shaped us.

Unlike some of my other gatherings, WomenCircle is not a coaching group, there is no advice, no fixing, hardly any feedback, really, aside from nodding, smiling, laughing or crying together. We just share. Prompted by questions, the stories come. Share we did. We told stories of love, loss, love returned and unreturned. The ways we attract love, and reject it. The ways we mourn the loss of love, the ways we heal. The ways we move on and dare to love again.

I’d like to invite you right now to create a list of all you have loved. People, places, events, creatures… whether or not it turned out ‘as planned’. Whether or not you walked away from it or was walked away from.  Whether or not it quaked quietly within you, never expressed, or stormed in, thrashing and stripping you of what you thought you knew. The big obvious loves, and the tiny, subtle ones.

 As you create your list, consider the ways these loves have shaped you.

 As you are always evolving into a higher version of yourself, the love you feel, give, receive and experience, the love you are, shapes you… always.

Here are the questions we discussed in WomenCircle.

I invite you to journal about these questions yourself, and if you feel like sharing, I’d LOVE to read your answers to any or all of them, in the comment section below.

  • As a young child, when did you first know what it was to love? When did you first experience the feeling of love?
  • When/how have you loved and lost?
  • what is easiest for you to love? what is the most difficult?
  • What are you learning to love?
  • If an alien came to earth and wanted to understand what LOVE is, how would you explain it?

One of the women in the circle defined love as “the invisible thread that connects one living thing to another…”

What do you think? How has love shaped you?

P.S. Here’s an extra love-boost for you. From my heart to yours.

This is why we raise kids, right?

My kid. Hardly a kid, anymore.

How do you write a blog about your daughter growing up and turning 18 and finishing high school, without slipping into blubbering sentimentality? We shall see. I can’t make any promises.

This is really why we raise kids, right? To eventually see them off into the world, hoping for their dreams to come true, worried for their safety, praying for their happiness. Will they make mistakes? Of course.

 Will they struggle? Will they flounder? Will they sink into dark nights of the soul? Will they ever feel alone? Of course they will.

Will the world hurt them with its rough edges and sharp corners? Of course it will.

Oh how I wish I could just pad her with soft pillows for all that. How I wish I could be there to soothe every tear. To give advice for every dilemma. But I’m not naive. I know what’s happening here.

This is why we raise kids, right? To become adults that can do life without us.

When I think back on these last 18 years, and what parenting her has been like, what comes to immediate mind is are all of the things she has taught me.

When she was three, and we were out at dinner, our food had just been set down when she declared she needed to go potty. I was irritated and hungry, I brought her into the ladies room with a bit of an inconvenienced attitude. As her little feet dangled in front of the toilet in her stall, I huffed and puffed and told her to hurry. And then a moment later, I told her again.

“Do you know why I came here, Mommy? To teach you patience.”

These are the kinds of things I remember. I wish I’d been more patient. I wish I’d been more present.

Over the last couple years, I’ve felt the clock ticking, the days of childhood numbered. I told her a few months ago: “I’m gonna be on you like white on rice these last few months you’re here.” I’ve been doting, hard-core, with all I have to give.

I’ve been dreading this time, as exciting as it is on the one hand. On the other, I feel sad for the time that is running out on our essential years sharing a home. I just love being around her.

This is why we raise kids, right? To learn the truly fleeting nature of time. To learn to practice presence, in its purest sense.

Granted, there were times when I didn’t feel that way.  Oh how a twelve year old can make a grown woman feel stupid and small with the power of an eye roll and one snide comment… how she triggered my inner adolescent. How we power struggled. I don’t miss the bickering. The attitude. The arguments. The times when she challenged my violence-free parenting policy and I had to fight with all my might to not reach out and swat that smart mouth. It wasn’t always easy. But it was always a gift.

 We grew up together. She raised me.

If I could change one thing, I wish I’d been paying more attention. I wish I’d stopped multi-tasking more often, to listen and give her my full attention when she’d speak to me.

When she was eight and we went through a card-designing phase together, she made me a card with a picture of me sunbathing on a beach towel, cool black sunglasses on, arms behind my head, a relaxed smile on my face.

“Life is not a rush.” She wrote across the top, in her sweet eight year-old penmanship.

Why was I rushing? What was I rushing to? This? The letting go part?

I wish I’d spent more time laying around on lazy Saturdays with her, catching up, sharing stories. I wish we’d colored more and played more. I wish I hadn’t been rushing.

There is no turning back. “Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping… into the future.”

All I can do is stay present now, to cherish each moment and to do my best to no longer take one single moment spent with her for granted.

And as her future is about to officially begin, and she’s graduating in four hours, I find myself loving her so completely, with a love so deep and profound, I can barely contain it.

I know my job is not over. It never will be. But it is changing. As it should.

This is why we raise kids, right? To send them off. To let them go.

I welcome these new experiences with open arms, as I watch her take charge of her own life, with open heart.

Thank you, Madelyn, for blessing my life with your presence. For choosing me to be your mama. I’ve done a lot of super cool stuff in my life. But this, my love, this is the coolest gig I’ve ever had.

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Photo by S.E. Maverick Photography (c)2013

Coming out of the dark: dumb mistakes and lovely little miracles

Sunday evening,  I was driving to my fiance’s place. Like I’d done a thousand times. I know that route like the back of my hand. Which is why I must have thought it was okay to text while driving.

Yes. I was texting. While driving. Suddenly, a high curb came up to meet me, I drove into it, onto it, off of it, my car flying out of control on a usually busy street, which thankfully at that moment was empty. My two passenger tires were shredded in pieces. I drove on my rims to a place to park. I cried.  I finished sending my not-so-important, SO-coulda-waited text message. Called Matt. Went straight to his couch, to nurse my trauma and guilt with a bottle of Reisling.

Then I sank into a dark place. The money I’d been saving for more important things was now being eaten up by repairs. The repair shop found more problems, engine stuff, brake stuff…  hundreds of dollars of my hard-earned money, washed away, in a matter of a couple of phone calls.

Even worse was the shame I was feeling for having “known better”… I could have killed someone. I kept picturing a mom and a baby in a stroller in that spot. I could have killed a baby. I don’t know why my imagination kept wanting to take me there, to a baby in a stroller.  It hadn’t happened. Sure, it could have. But it didn’t. But my imagination wanted me to feel, really feel, the shame and guilt that it thought I should be feeling.

What a waste of money… I could have killed somebody… I know better… What the hell was I thinking? How many times do I have to be taught the same freakin’ lesson: be present. Lisa. Be here.

I wallowed. I whined. I bitched. My fiancé kept calling me Grumpy Cat. And in the privacy of my own mind, I shamed myself, quite relentlessly.

Then, on the third day, I decided I was done. I was ready to leave my dark cloud of self-pity and self-flagellation, and I was ready to return to love. But how? I felt so stuck. I sat in front of my blank journal and could not muster anything nice or pleasant to write. I cried out to God on the pages of my journal.

“You have the tools.” Is what came out.  Bah. Tools, schmools.

Start with a gratitude list.”  I sat there for a moment, gratitude the last thing on my mind. I was feeling SO ungrateful. Pissy. Bleak. Self-pity and gratitude don’t like to play together. They just don’t have very much in common.

I forced myself to write. I ended up listing twenty things I was grateful for. And I’m serious, right then, I felt the clouds begin to part in my heart. An openness began to reveal itself. Damn, this shit works.

Then, I tuned in, I asked my Higher Self to write me a love note, another powerful tool, one I’d picked up from SARK.

Hey Sweetheart,

You’ve been pretty hard on yourself. Do you not know that as a human being, you are allowed – not just allowed—invited—to make mistakes? You are exactly right on track. Money comes and money goes and everything will be alright. It’s just money. Thank goodness you have money saved! Doesn’t it feel good to take care of it yourself? I love you more than anything in this world. You are precious.

I got on Facebook and ran into a couple of super inspiring posts, including Jim Carrrey’s minute-long pure love manifestion… it made me cry! It returned me to my essence. And the lovely image I posted here for you at the top of this blog showed up. Then, a friend (aka, angel) posted this magical playlist, “A Springtime Love Letter” on my FB page. Little miracles, one by one, returned me to love.

And as the dark gave way to the light, as I returned to pure perfect love, as I looked beyond the form, of cars, mistakes, money and whatnot… I was able to find in the folds of my soul a greater capacity for self-compassion and gratitude.

As joy returned to me, and I returned to joy, the world suddenly became a beautiful place again.

As a human being, I am invited to make mistakes. It’s part of my soul’s journey, for its evolution. My ego, however, HATES mistakes.

My soul learns from them.

As I return to my pure essence, which is love, I am also invited to appreciate the very human experience I am having. It’s all me. It’s all learning. And I have finally been cured of my urge to text and drive. Long time coming.  I’ve seen the light. And I’m alright. Yeah, everything is quite alright.