shame

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.

The Opposite of Funny: Enough with the Body-Shaming “Jokes”

7c9187e61f2c00fd5c3778b79949e139I’m fed up this morning and I’ll tell you why.

I have cringed over many a meme that shames a woman for her fat that is exposed. A woman who is oversized by our culture’s standards has no business showing off her body, as we know. If she does, she shall be subject to our modern day hounds of hell in the form of cruel viral memes, vicious comments and ugly body-shaming messages. Perhaps even thousands of them. Hundreds of thousands.

It’s not just women who fall victim to public ridicule. Men are often the subject of these “humorous” pictures that circulate the internet and show up on my Facebook newsfeed. Pictures of women, men, with their butt cracks, or bellies exposed, most certainly unaware that photos are being taken of them and shared on the internet.

Imagine finding that a picture of you, that you didn’t even know was being taken, had gone viral and someone had made memes making fun of you and the social media world was making fun of your body or the way you dressed or the way you looked.

Can you imagine how painful that would be?

We seem to forget one important fact.

These are PEOPLE we are making fun of. There is a person whose image that belongs to, who lives with her self, her body, her curves, her “unacceptable” shape every single day. She has a soul. She has a heart. Feelings, emotions, the ability to hurt, to cry. Just like you.

Turning someone’s body into a JOKE? That is not funny. That’s the opposite of funny.

Can’t we all just wear want we want and be who we are without the wrath of a million judges laughing and making fun of us?

It’s like a giant schoolyard bully session. Having been made fun of most of my childhood, and the ‘star attraction’ of plenty of schoolyard bullying-sessions, I know it hurts. We are grown now. Shouldn’t we be evolved, compassionate adults by now? Why are we still acting like schoolyard bullies?

Let’s stop perpetuating cruelty. What do you say?

When I was a kid, being made fun of or picked on, once in a while a loving, aware grown-up would intervene on my behalf. She would step in and stop the bullying, stand up for me, protect me, and get me out of an awful situation. She would shut it down.

Now we have grown up and become a giant schoolyard of grown-up bullies. Where’s the loving aware grown-ups to step in and intervene? Who’s going to shut it down?

Let’s do it.

Will you perpetuate meanness by sharing body-shaming memes or even “liking” them? Or will you join me to intervene on behalf of the people whose images are being riduculed.

It’s time for the loving, aware grown-ups to step in and intervene.

I’m tired of being quiet about it so as not to offend, as I continue to be offended.

I’m tired of my own complacency.

I fight the fight every day to love and accept myself, and have built my life around helping others love and accept themselves. Yet, we still struggle. And it’s no surprise. A social current that ridicules, degrades and shames in the name of humor is hard to swim against. But we can do it, if we swim together.

I dare you to stand up for the anonymous victim of the next body-shaming meme you see.

I dare you to delete people from your friends list who perpetuate this type of riducle.

I dare you to voice your offense when offended, instead of staying quiet, as to not offend.

I dare you to take a stand against this bullshit.

Excuse my French, but I’m fed up. Our schoolyard bully days are over. It’s time to evolve, to grow up. Enough, already.

 

*********************

Originally published July, 2014

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.

 

Shameless

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photo by dee hill

“It’s hard to dance with the Devil on your back.”
– Florence + the Machine

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about shame, and it won’t be the last, unless by some amazing miracle, it’s eradicated once and for all. Maybe then I’ll write a blog called “Remember Shame? Me Neither.” But the odds of that are slim, so I’m going to keep bringing it up.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about the blocks to your most vibrant, radiant, sexiest life.  The toxic threats to your well-being. Those radiance-robbing sexy-stifling and fire snuffing habits that hinder our connection to our own inner light and diminish our joy and dull our experience.

There are a bunch. So far, we’ve discussed old programming, self-talk, judgment and comparing. And there are more to come.

I’m personally acquainted with all of them, and have had torrid affairs with most of them. A few of them still call from time to time, looking for a roll in the hay. And I must admit, I sometimes take their calls. But I’m getting better about letting them go to voicemail.

There is one I know pretty well, and that is shame.

We go way back.

Chances are, you know it, too.

I’ve come to realize that shame is the most toxic and deadly of the bunch. I’m not even speaking figuratively. Get this…

“The body has a remarkable ability to manifest shame as illness or physical problems, because the hurt of shame registers in the brain in exactly the same way physical pain does. And it also produces inflammatory chemicals in the body that set us up for illness.”

– Dr. Christiane Northrup

There is well-documented evidence that those who experienced adverse childhoods that were heavily associated with shame, abandonment and betrayal are far more likely to have health problems later on and die sooner than those that didn’t.

In layman’s terms… this shit is poison.

I have my own theories, and I bet I could find the science to back them up, that shame is an underlying root cause of addiction, self-harming, eating disorders and other struggles and illnesses.

Are you carrying shame?

Isn’t it time to be free?

Sure, sounds great, Lisa, you may be thinking. But how?

The antidote for shame is worthiness. Do whatever you can to cultivate your own self-worth. It’s not easy for many of us, but I promise, it is possible.

And here’s the interesting thing I find about shame. It is rarely founded in fact or truth. And its roots are usually very old, and usually tracing back to when we were very young, and finding subtle, sneaky ways to stay alive, “evidence” if you will, experiences to match the shame.

There are many ways to release shame…

  • spend time daily cultivating self-forgiveness and compassion

  • journal your way through

  • mantras, affirmations and mediation have the power to rewire shamepatterns in your brain

  • remind yourself regularly that you did the best you could, as you knew how

  • have an honest talk with a trusted friend

  • work with a coach or therapist on specific tools and modalities

  • investigate shame-releasing processes and therapies (a simple Google search of “how to release shame” had about 74 million hits! Obviously, this is a hot topic.)

The important thing is that you do the work to release it.

I’m still working.

I can definitely feel the freedom that comes with less shame.

But hidden in small dark crevices, some residual shame lingers. It surprises me sometimes, popping up unexpected in a behavior, or even a dream. Lingeringshame around past mistakes and choices, religious mind-fuckery, old and decrepit messages I received as a kid, sourced from  what Eckhart Tolle refers to as the “pain body”, that deep-seated part of me that does not want to live without some degree of suffering.

I am gentle with myself (when I remember to be.)

I am patient with myself (when I can be.)

I am loving toward myself (when I come from my source, which is pure love.)

We are all works in progress. No one here is expected to be perfect. No one is.

It is also true that it is impossible to be your most radiant, powerful, beautiful, liberated self while carrying the weight of shame. It’s heavy.

Let’s get that devil off our backs, so we can dance, freely, with abandon, and feel what it feels to be completely and entirely shameless.

Ditch the Shame

004-0312221826-shamed-childWhen I was in the sixth grade, my parents had this great set of books about “growing up”… which of course, meant these books were about SEX. This was thrilling to me.

Included in the set was a “Parent’s Guide” with questions and answers about sex, so that you knew what to say when your kids asked “What’s oral sex?”  “Is masturbation okay?” This was a goldmine of information for me. I was, of course, very curious about the subject as I knew my peers at school would be as well. The book was loaded with all the good stuff- stuff that my parents, ironically enough, were NOT talking to me about.

Word got around that I brought the book to school. The kids mocked me and said I was a pervert. They called me disgusting. They ridiculed and laughed at me and called it a “dirty book”. I became the “pervert that brings dirty books to school.” It even came up months later, listed as one of my flaws, in a ruthless, teacher-sanctioned game called “Feedback.”

Needless to say, I was ashamed.  Something that had been titillating and curious had once again been made shameful and embarrassing. I was so deeply humiliated, I felt like I could die.

I learned it was not safe to be curious. I learned that being curious about the sexual workings of our bodies was shameful. I learned that it was not okay to be who I really was, an inquisitive sexual being, with questions and curiosities.

It was this and many other experiences that seemed destined to weave themselves together my sexuality and a sense of shame in a tangled tapestry. And 30 years later, I’m still sorting it out.

Sex and sexuality has long been a “popular” subject of shame and humiliation for so many of us, for generations. I bet it’s safe to say, most of us, at one time or another, have experienced humiliation simply for being the sexual beings we are, for exposing our authenticity, for expressing our sexual curiosity or desire. In one way or another, each of us can relate to sexual shame. Whether its shame around our body parts, our desires, our actions and choices, or things that happened to us that were not our choice at all, continuing to carry shame is insidious and toxic, and it makes us sick. Sometimes it’s even deadly.

I’m fed up.

“Donna,” a client I’m currently working with, would like to feel less ashamed about self-pleasure.  She’d like to be able to not feel like her sexuality and her spirituality are in opposition. I am committed to her learning, at thirty-five, that sex is nothing to be ashamed of.  That we are born sexual. That our sexuality IS divinity, embodied.

I want to start a global conspiracy to eradicate shame. It’s killed too many people. It’s caused too much pain.

Yes, I brought a “dirty book to school” when I was ten. I released that shame a long time ago.

And even still, more than thirty years later, I am learning to embrace my sexual self as vibrant, rich and holy; as in partnership with my spirituality. In fact, it’s all one in the same.

One of my favorite masturbation jokes is “If God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, he woulda made our arms shorter.”

While I don’t believe in God as a “he,”  I do find truth in this statement. Everything by design, perfect design.

Wave your flag, whatever that flag may be.

Be who you are…

Curious, sexual, vibrant, with blood pulsing through your veins and sexuality your divine birthright. It’s not only OKAY to be sexual- it’s what you were wired for!

No

More

Shame.

Breathe into that. Say it out loud. And whatever leftover shame you’ve been holding onto about your sexuality…

Let it go.

Give the world the gift of your authenticity.  Start now.

 ******************************

Adapted from my book, Truth or Dare Living: Wild Adventures for your Sacred, Sexy Soul. (c)2013.

Body-Shaming is the Opposite of Funny. Enough, already.

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Gorgeous! More body-positive memes like this, please!

I’m fed up this morning and I’ll tell you why.

I have cringed over many of a meme that shames a woman for her fat that is exposed. A woman who is oversized by our culture’s standards has no business showing off her body, as we know. If she does, she shall be subject to our modern day hounds of hell in the form of cruel viral memes, vicious comments and ugly body-shaming messages. Perhaps even thousands of them. Hundreds of thousands.

It’s not just women who fall victim to public ridicule. Men are often the subject of these “humorous” pictures that circulate the internet and show up on my Facebook newsfeed. Pictures of women, men, with their butt cracks, or bellies exposed, most certainly unaware that photos are being taken of them and shared on the internet.

Imagine finding that a picture of you, that you didn’t even know was being taken, had gone viral and someone had made memes making fun of you and the social media world was making fun of your body or the way you dressed or the way you looked.

Can you imagine how painful that would be?

We seem to forget one important fact.

These are PEOPLE we are making fun of. There is a person whose image that belongs to, who lives with her self, her body, her curves, her “unacceptable” shape every single day. She has a soul. She has a heart. Feelings, emotions, the ability to hurt, to cry. Just like you.

Turning someone’s body into a JOKE? That is not funny. That’s the opposite of funny.

Can’t we all just wear want we want and be who we are without the wrath of a million judges laughing and making fun of us?

It’s like a giant schoolyard bully session. Having been made fun of most of my childhood, and the ‘star attraction’ of plenty of schoolyard bullying-sessions, I know it hurts. We are grown now. Shouldn’t we be evolved, compassionate adults by now? Why are we still acting like schoolyard bullies?

Let’s stop perpetuating meanness. What do you say?

When I was a kid, being made fun of or picked on, once in a while a loving, aware grown-up would intervene on my behalf. She would step in and stop the bullying, stand up for me, protect me, and get me out of an awful situation. She would shut it down.

Now we have grown up and become a giant schoolyard of grown-up bullies. Where’s the loving aware grown-ups to step in and intervene? Who’s going to shut it down?

Let’s do it.

Will you perpetuate meanness by sharing body-shaming memes or even “liking” them? Or will you join me to intervene on behalf of the people whose images are being riduculed.

It’s time for the loving, aware grown-ups to step in and intervene.

I’m tired of being quiet about it so as not to offend, as I continue to be offended.

I’m tired of my own complacency.

I fight the fight every day to love and accept myself, and have built my life around helping others love and accept themselves. Yet, we still struggle. And it’s no surprise. A social current that ridicules, degrades and shames in the name of humor is hard to swim against. But we can do it, if we swim together.

I dare you to stand up for the anonymous victim of the next body-shaming meme you see.

I dare you to delete people from your friends list who perpetuate this type of riducle.

I dare you to voice your offense when offended, instead of staying quiet, as to not offend.

I dare you to take a stand against this bullshit.

Excuse my French, but I’m fed up. Our schoolyard bully days are over. It’s time to evolve, to grow up. Enough, already.

Mean-Spirited Roadhouses and Other Detours

Roadhouse

“Gamble everything for love, if you’re a true human being.

If not, leave this gathering.

Half-heartedness doesn’t reach into majesty.  

You set out to find God, but then you keep stopping for long periods at mean-spirited roadhouses.”

– From “The Essential Rumi” (translated by Coleman Barks)

When our hearts are open, we gamble everything for love, we hungrily seek divinity, we bounce (or sashay, or saunter, or strut…) along the spiritual path with zeal, or with peace, with awareness. It feels amazing.

And then we stop.

Ah… look, here’s an intriguing roadhouse.

We slip in…

We all have our favorite mean-spirited roadhouses.

Maybe yours is regret.

Shame.

Self-loathing.

Returning to hurts of the past.

Or an emotionally bankrupt relationship.

Or maybe it’s a physical activity that works well for numbing. For removing you from the intensity of the divine, of your own light. Or your own feelings.

Bingeing on Netflix streaming for hours and hours at a time.

Facebook scrolling. Scrolling, endless scrolling. Scroll. Click. Scroll. Click, click. Scroll, scroll. OOH! A notification!

Drinking too much. Or too often. Or both.

Shopping for things you don’t need, just to feel a rush of newness, of… something different than this.

I’ve done all of these things, stopped in all of these mean-spirited roadhouses, as well as others I won’t name. Luckily, today, in this moment, I am back on the path, gambling everything for love.

But I also trust the detour.

There will be times on this spiritual path, when we will find ourselves at mean-spirited roadhouses. And more importantly, we must. The path of divinity is intense, and asks much from us. That we be completely aware, that we remain open, that we shine bright.

It can get exhausting being our magnificence.

Oh look… there’s my favorite mean-spirited roadhouse… I’m gonna stop in for a spell… I think they’re running specials…

And so, the cycle continues. Until it ends. Until that glorious day we can walk right past those familiar mean-spirited roadhouses, and keep on walking, gambling everything for love.

Gambling everything for love is not for wimps. It’s not easy. Nor is it free of dangers and risks. But, as Rumi is saying, more or less: go big or go home.

It doesn’t matter if you use the word God, spirit, love, divinity, magnificence, grace, glory. I don’t care what the heck you choose to call it. We’re simply talking about your innate connection to that which is bigger and greater than the limits of your humanness. Call it what you will. We’re either seeking it. Connecting to it. Living it. Or detoured.

Right now, think about your current place on your path. At this moment of your life, are you gambling everything for love or half-heartedly reaching for majesty? Are you seeking God or hanging out in a mean-spirited roadhouse?

If you’re in a mean-spirited roadhouse, when you’re ready to come back out, to pick up on your path, come on. The light at first, is blinding. It’s dark in there, after all. And you might carry some of that mean-spirited roadhouse smell on your clothes for a while.

But out here, on your divine path, the air is sweet, the sun is bright and the breeze wants to say hello. Welcome back.

Gamble everything. Give it your all. Go big or go home.

As Rumi knew, half-heartedness doesn’t reach into majesty.

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.

Three Years Ago Today

Three years ago today, I loaded up the U-Haul and moved out of my 17-year marriage, began a new life and while it was what I needed to do, it was the most difficult, painful thing I have ever done.

I am lucky enough to have an ex-husband that will always be my friend. I am lucky enough to co-parent our near grown daughter together. Even though she’s spent the last 3 years evenly living in two homes, we have taken such great, thoughtful care of her sense of stability. As she gets ready to leave the nests… I am grateful that her dad and I have stayed committed to her, together, and she knows love, and hopefully understands that love does not die, it just changes form.

Three years ago today, I “tore asunder what God had brought together”. The time had come. I knew it was what I needed for the next chapter of my life. I felt like a murderer. Like a terrible, selfish person. I kept telling myself that it was what I needed to do, but that didn’t necessarily change the way it felt, but I needed to move on, be strong, and so I closed this pain and shame in a secret chamber of my heart. It was always there, a silent, shadowy presence sometimes, whispering sometimes, shouting at me at other times.

Today, one minute before my beloved friend and massage therapist, Heather Cherie, arrived at my home take care of my aches and pains, I read in an email from my ex-husband, on this third anniversary of the day I moved out and began my new life: “As weird as this sounds, thank you for seeing what needed to be done and doing it. You said I would see someday, and that someday is here!”

He is happier than he has been in a very long time. He is healed and whole, I see this, I feel this, he is telling me this.

Instantly, my heart unfolded and threw open the door of that private chamber of guilt and shame, to set it free.

Moments later, I drew a card from a deck of angel cards that Heather had brought over to start my massage with… RELEASE was the card I drew.

As this year has clearly started as a year of releasing what no longer serves me, in order to step into my full power and magnificence, it makes perfectly perfect sense that the heaviness I have carried for three years is finally invited to move on, I release it, and I bless it. I bless these last three years, and I cherish them as some of the most important healing years of my life. And his life, as well.

It has taken three years for me to finally let go of the guilt and shame I have carried like an albatross, for the reality is this: Sometimes it hurts to claim your life. Sometimes you must even hurt others. Sometimes there is just one path, and it is terrifying, and it hurts like hell, yet you know you must take it.

We cannot even begin to understand the beautiful, perfect, divine work of art that it all becomes, with the healing salve of time, forgiveness, humility, when we stay open, when we decide to release, and trust in a divine sensibility that lovingly takes care of everyone involved.

We go on, clumsily living, gracefully loving, letting go, building, destroying.

And when the time is right, we release, and we heal.

The Sacred Disconnect

This spiritual path you are traveling is exactly the one you are meant to travel. All of it is part of the journey. All of it is sacred. Yes, all of it.

Often we feel we are on the “right” spiritual path until things go “wrong,” and we get bamboozled or sidetracked or take a detour to become an addict or develop a compulsion for shopping or shoplifting or get fired or get divorced or get drunk or forget who we are or take up sleeping pills or sleeping around or sleeping all day and then we’ve blown it- we’re “off” the spiritual path.

Way back in my church days, we called that “backsliding.” It was all very black and white- you were either right with God or going to Hell. You were either saved or damned. you were either washed in the Blood or a back-slidden sinner. So of course, we were set up to be in constant struggle, anytime our humanity showed up and we found ourselves less than “Godly.” And so began the split, the rejection of selves, the self-hatred and self-condemnation.

I don’t believe that to be true anymore.

The addictions, the shoplifting, the eating disorders, the failed marriages, the broken hearts, the affairs, the distractions, the detours, the pain we face in our very complicated, very human lives- it’s all part of the spiritual path. It’s all an essential part of the journey.

Of course, these aren’t the highest, brightest manifestations of our lives. I’m not saying go out, get wasted, rob a convenience store and sleep with your sister’s husband just to write it off as part of your spiritual journey. That would be way too easy, and way too careless. Plus, our actions catch up with us: karma can be a bitch.

But I don’t think there are any “detours” on the spiritual path, and I don’t think we can ever leave it. The only danger to the spiritual path is unawareness.

But you know what? Funny thing is, even unawareness is part of the spiritual path! Atheism? Part of the spiritual path. Suicide? Part of the spiritual path. Cursing God? Despair? Yep. Part of the path. All of it.

All of it, meaning everything.

Your spiritual journey is all your own. It’s meant to be exciting and adventurous. Think of Dorothy on the way to the land of Oz.

She had to leave home to find home, just like we do.

She thought she needed something outside of herself to get to where she wanted to be. Just like we do.

She ends up going through all kinds of crazy shit to find her “guru” – the wizard. Just like we do.

Only to find out she had what she needed all along, those ruby slippers, coveted by witches everywhere, to get back to where she wanted to be, just like we do.

As you continue on your spiritual path, I implore you to be as gentle and as compassionate toward yourself as you can possibly be. Keep in mind that it’s pretty normal and human and again, part of the spiritual journey, to at times be detached from your own inner voice, to not “feel” spiritual, to be completely disconnected from your soul’s language.

Even this disconnect is sacred!

We disconnect in order to feel separation. Without separation, we would not recognize connection. We must experience darkness in order to define the light. Without winter, how would we define spring? Without hot, how would we define cold? It’s all part of the great and perfect totality.

If you are looking for a spiritual path, look to the ground. You’re already on it.

If you’re looking for a guru, look in the mirror. You are what you’ve been looking for.

If you’re looking for your sacred text, look within. You already are holy truth.

You’re looking for your way back home? Guess what? You’re already wearing the ruby slippers.