Unrestrained by Demons

It’s been quite a year. Can you relate? I’m not speaking of 2016 (although…my heavens, 2016 has been filled with revelations and reckoning), but rather the last 12, 13, 14 months themselves. The last…long while. So much self-reflection and quite painful investigation into the what’s and why’s of this life.

It can get heavy. Being an emotional being can at times be draining, can leave us feeling depleted and weepy. The lows can get as low as they get high. It can become incredibly daunting to process the ups and downs of life, to navigate one’s own emotional liberation, while still going out everyday and operating as a functioning member of society. That sounds dramatic, but do you ever feel as though the sheer weight of processing your own grievances feels like a full-time endeavor? One you want to just commit yourself to for a week (or five), in solitude, surrounded by healing, supportive space and silence? It’s so challenging to sort through our thoughts when we’re burdened by the need to simultaneously work, maintain relationships, construct the outward appearance of having it all together (not that we’re meant to pretend that our suffering doesn’t exist, but most days no matter how lost in our heads we want to get, we still have to be adults and live our lives). This is reality, despite the suffocating moments of fear and anxiety that visit us all, from time to time.

It can be really tempting to live a life shut off from that emotional processing. Because it’s just hard. The idea of avoiding all that mess can seem easier. Sometimes denial can look, from afar, like such a cozy alternative; not having to feel our feelings, not being blindsided and ambushed by the underbelly of what it means to be an emotional creature in this huge, undulating universe.

But I would never again choose that alternative. I’ve lived in it before; the stuffy, damp, darkly shrouded realm of denial. It’s isolated. It’s claustrophobic. It actually doesn’t feel safe at all. If you’ve ever been there, you probably know that it feels like laying in a dark room with a heavy box on your chest. Even though the box may be like Pandora’s, filled with a whole mess of stuff, it can be far more productive, albeit terrifying, to throw open the windows and start sorting through the aching feelings and thoughts that lay locked up and waiting for our attention.

This stuff – the wading through the suffering, I mean – is, as I view it, the price we pay for being alive.

I’m currently reading (slowly, savoring) my favorite author, Elizabeth Gilbert’s, newest book Big Magic. Liz’s prose slay me. She is, as I say, one of those authors that “makes you feel so much more comfortable with being alive.” Because, let’s be honest, the human condition can feel really intense, lonely, daunting, and uncomfortable at times. Liz reminds us that fear (insert: trepidation, personal demons, struggles – all manifestations of fear) is always with us. She suggests that we be inclined to accept and embrace our fear. Invite it along on the journey we are taking with creativity (insert: love, joy, adventure, abundance – all manifestations of creative living). Her brilliant concept is that, on this road trip of life, we are driving, creativity gets the front seat, and fear gets the backseat. Fear is welcome to come along (because we don’t actually have any choice in the matter, do we?), and it is allowed to speak up, but it does not get to decide where we’re going. It does not get to lay its hands on the map, or even fiddle with the radio station (Liz, seriously, is my greatest inspiration as a writer – this stuff comes from the creative depths of her imagination – what a vision! – get thee to a bookstore and buy yourself Big Magic).

What a notion, right? I feel, and I’m speaking for myself here, that the overwhelming urge is to banish fear, and all its expressions, from my life. I have been standing outside the car, arms crossed, brow furrowed, tapping my toe impatiently waiting for fear to unbuckle, get out of my backseat, and let me get on with my journey.

I might as well turn my distressed gaze upward and start looking for pigs flying.

I’m not proposing, nor is my great hero Elizabeth Gilbert, that we should be super comfortable with the idea of carrying fear around in our back pockets. It’s uncomfortable; it’s supposed to be. But this is the non-negotioable byproduct of having been gifted the most exquisite opportunity of creative living (which we all have been gifted, by being born as human beings with opposable thumbs and incredible cognitive function and hearts so gloriously capable of being wrecked by love that they could just swallow up the whole world with their power for adoration).

We all have our “things” that hold us back. We all have our demons. But we are worthy of living lives unrestrained by demons. If we can, collectively, stop waiting for the demons to release us, for fear to get out of the car, and just realize this uncooperative passenger is going to endlessly serve as a beacon of where we don’t wish to go (because, at its root, fear is a mechanism of self-preservation, sounding off when danger might be present), we can see its purpose. We are high-functioning human beings with the discerning power to notice when we are being chased by a lion and fear should get to use its lung power with all its might, for good rather than evil…and when faith, love, intuition, and creativity are being drowned by the drunken, garbled hollering of our backseat fear (who somehow seems to have climbed onto the dashboard and got its sticky hands on a microphone).

We have the capacity to take a step back, look at our lives, and see where we’re being pinned (or, sometimes, glued) to a spot we no longer wish to be. We have the power to investigate why we’re immobilized. We have the capability to change that.

I have a tendency of getting stuck in a rut. I am fearful of change, and the unknown brings me great anxiety. A life of ritual and routine has brought me great comfort. My chest grows a bit tight at the image of jet-setting wanderlusts, living out of suitcases and going where the wind blows. No, no, I’ll wait patiently for my niiiiiiice, detailed itinerary please.  But that’s just me. And a huge part of this presses is in getting to know ourselves, and embracing our quirks and tendencies. Learning, through trial and error, where to push our boundaries and where to respect our needs. I went heaving and hyperventilating into a 3-month study abroad venture overseas back in 2009. I literally fought for breath and sucked on tears as I wrestled with the militant French operator and a dinky little calling card in a Parisian phone booth, begging my mom to come and visit because WHO DECIDED IT WAS OKAY TO PUT AN OCEAN BETWEEN US FOR A QUARTER OF A YEAR and I hadn’t slept in 36 hours and HOW DID I GET TO FRANCE?

By the end of my trip I was seriously devoted to finding a way (ANY way) to stay in Italy, cash in my plane ticket, and preserve the little world I had created with my friends in this foreign land where everything exotic had become familiar and reality was suspended in favor of 20 year old, wide-eyed, first-time independence.

…didn’t see that coming.

What made it so wonderful and tolerable was that, after the initial shock and severe discomfort of having no familiarity, no routine, and no way of predicting what was ahead…I reestablished all of those things that kept my needs met. I made routines. I settled into my Florentine flat, put my belongings in their new places, found a local market, carved new neural pathways in my brain, got to know my surroundings, created nourishing relationships, and set up a daily routine. All while testing my boundaries.

I did return home as planned, fortunately, but I do think back regularly and fondly on my time living Europe as an experience I’m so deeply grateful I had. It showed me I am capable of wrestling fear to the ground and making a run for it.

Letting go of control and powering through the impending horror such an act produces makes for a sweet, intoxicating exhale; like a flood of dopamine, or (on some much smaller level) the ecstatic amnesia a new mother experiences, forgetting the pain and agony of birth upon beholding their precious infant.

It is so tempting to stay on the shore where everything is safe and protected. But, the reality is that we only perceive this space to be safe and protected. It’s a deeply seductive act, for many of us, to try and preserve a sense of stability and safety by putting on our control freak panties and hyper-managing every aspect of our lives. This doesn’t make us safe. This sacrifices sanity for perceived safety. Not even real safety. Just our carefully constructed belief patter of “if I do this, and this, and this, everything will stay okay. I will be safe.” That is a very sad and disappointing way to live each day, I think.

I’m not saying we all need to turn our lives upside down, or go jump on a plane and live in Europe for 3 months in order to experience life from a place of love and creativity rather than fear (though maybe the thought makes your heart skip a beat and, actually, is just the type of experience you do need). For many of us, though, the healing medicine can be found on a much smaller scale. It can be accessed in our day-to-day lives. It might just mean doing things differently today than you did yesterday (that is often a big enough shake up for me, honestly, as a diligent creature of habit). It also doesn’t mean things have to be different every single day, because ritual and routine are beautiful and holy, just so long as they don’t come from a place of fear and seal every crack in the structure where love and creativity might try to seep in and stir things up.

Maybe it means starting a creative project or finishing a degree. Maybe it’s finding the courage to use some of that built up PTO and taking a trip. Maybe it’s climbing out of the unemployment shame and getting excited about a new career. Maybe it means going to a yoga class for the first time or revisiting a forgotten passion for hiking. Maybe it means going out to eat, or maybe it means staying in and preparing a favorite recipe. It could mean asking for help. It could be breaking a pattern of isolation and going out with friends, for an introvert. It could be a day or night of self-care and indulgent alone time at home, for an extrovert. Perhaps it’s looking at your body in the mirror and not breaking your gaze until you are able to see yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you unconditionally. Maybe it’s a commitment to a new routine, or maybe it’s the courage to break out of a rut. Maybe it’s the act of daring greatly enough to build an avenue between the two.

Whatever it is, whatever your sweet, pulsing heart knows in its very depths is an act of great courage…that is the first step in your journey. We all have demons (not a one of us is immune, no matter how “perfect” someone else’s existence and “put together” life may seem…they too struggle, I promise).

We all experience loss, fatigue, sadness, anxiety, depression, negative self-talk, FEAR. We are all united in this human condition, no matter what ways our fear and creativity display themselves. We may look different, but we are not. We are all the same. We are all paddling our little boats furiously towards freedom and love. But perhaps, in a joint effort of all the eyes reading this, we together can start to see our fear as something new. Rather than a block of darkness, threatening to sink our boat, we can view our fear as something useful. As a necessary component on our journey, an irreplaceable cog in our wheel of healing. A threatening shadow of heaviness to keep the brilliant light from blinding our eyes; a little hunk of pressure providing just enough weight to slow our speed, so that we don’t race feverishly past all the opportunities to pause, and be shattered by the staggering beauty of how very far we’ve already come.

 

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From a Sweet, Juicy Place of Love

So much has transpired since my last entry here. I turned 27. There was a Full Moon. We nearly lost our patriarch, my Grandfather. His circumstances improved. I thought I had to move. I house-hunted like mad for a week. My cousin got married. There was a New Moon. I found out I didn’t have to move. I went on a couple dates. The earth did who knows how many pirouettes on her axis.

Life went, beautifully, on.

Despite the epic changes I have imparted on my life in the past three months, despite the uncertainty – a thing I bend over backwards, quite literally sometimes (on the yoga mat), to avoid – I have been brought to my knees in sheer gratitude for all the love and abundance that IS my life, lately. More so than ever before. I have been brought TO LIFE.

I find it so interesting, the concept of uncertainty and “the unknown.” I mean, it’s hilarious to me that I even look at it as an option. As if my perceived structures of control have any effect whatsoever on the chaos that is time and space! Things are going to happen, the earth keeps spinning, life goes on.

I recently joked with my parents, “Is this just how life gets, as an adult? One thing after another? You think you have everything all settled and then BOOM, car trouble. BOOM, something at home breaks. BOOM, something else pops up.” They smiled sideways and wrinkled their brows as if to say, “………Well, DUH.” The problem is not that life hurls “one thing after another”, I am now realizing. The issue is that I expect it not to do that! The story that I have is one of a child, where others take care of business for me, others help me through every decision and oftentimes make them for me. It’s kind of my autopilot, to be honest. I’m used to calling up my mom when I get a confrontational text message or email, when something happens at work, when someone wants to have a serious discussion – I need to carefully detail her advice before reacting. I do this. I don’t trust my own judgement, even though my life is lived by way of intuition. It doesn’t make sense, right?

I think a lot of us are like this. I am so endlessly blessed to have the support system I have, but I see now that I have taken advantage of their wisdom and advice so frequently, that when it’s up to me to make decisions…I balk. I worry that someone will say, “WHY did you say/do that???” I worry that someone is not going to like that I acted like a doormat or didn’t stand up for myself, or that I didn’t say the appropriate things during the conversation and now the moment has passed.

But you know what? WHO CARES! SO WHAT!?

If I’m in the driver seat and it’s up to me to make the decisions that only have to live with, then why wouldn’t I be most concerned with my reaction to my own life?

It makes so much sense, when I lay it out like this. But, at 27, I am just now learning how to carefully remove my training wheels and balance on my own. I am just now respecting and giving weight to my own thoughts, opinions and motives. It, is, SO, liberating.

I am also working more towards being more grounded and authentic (read: less of a people pleaser), and more trusting and content in the day-to-day (read: less of an “uncertainty avoider”). I am fiercely working on coming from a place of love rather than fear (have you ever taken a day to do inventory on how many times you move from a place of fear rather than a place of love? It’s astonishing, really).

No matter how much we plan, life has its own agenda. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way demonizing planning. It’s awesome. It’s kind of my middle name. I always have a plan. But sometimes, just letting the fluidity of life take its course, can be so much more delightful than you ever could’ve planned. I’ve begun planning for today, instead of all week. Yes, there’s a rough outlined sketch of the week in my head, but by not calendar planning every detail of the week (in pen, no less), I suddenly can breathe so much more deeply. I have the freedom (as if I didn’t have it before…) to change my mind. To do things differently. To make my Tuesday plan my Thursday plan instead, and do something else on Tuesday. To NOT do things I don’t want to do, and to add in as I see fit. Why wouldn’t I live this way all the time?

In the well-intentioned act of planning so as to cultivate a structure of perceived security, we can often sink unconsciously into a fear-based way of living. Preventive. Frightened. Walking forward, tentatively, with our hands outstretched trying to ward off any potential chaos. 

BUT THAT ISN’T LIVING. That isn’t LIFE.

So now, I am taking another vow (y’all know how much I love those…). I am taking a vow to live life as it comes. I’m always going to scribble lists on post-it notes and write on my calendar. I’m always going to roughly sketch out my plan for the week, mentally. It’s who I am. There’s nothing wrong with being this way. But there’s something very wrong with going on autopilot and boxing out the potential for unexpected beauty. Unexpected chaos will enter our safe little emotional villas whether we invite them in or not. But unexpected beauty? It has a much harder time sliding through the cracks. We actually have to step outside, we actually have to look up, to see it.

And it is there, always.

I am committed to stepping outside, as often as possible. I am committed to looking up. I am committed to letting the beauty wash over me, shatter me, day after day. I am committed, in every single moment, to approaching my life from a sweet, juicy place of love.

Won’t you join me?

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Snakes and Saving Grace

I have dreamt of snakes three times in the past couple of weeks. Twice last night. Once I woke up with a gasp, lurching to the other side of the bed, my hands curling in fear towards my face. An orange snake was definitely slithering up the side of the bed towards me. Not threateningly, but slitheringly, enough to jolt my sleeping body sideways and “gasp” me awake. Snakes, in the Dream World, can actually serve as Spirit Animals, totems, indicating healing and intuition. They can signify transformation.

I’ve always been super keen on dream analysis. It’s been a large part of my intuitive processes, for as long as I can remember. So it comes as no surprise that dreaming of snakes or serpents shed light on the working through of difficult situations in one’s waking life, specifically in regards to emotional experiences. Hi. Are you, like, spying on my life?

My thrice snake dreamt subconscious is wailing, “I GET IT, WE HAVE SHIT TO WORK OUT, I’M TRYING!” But the snakes are hissing, trying? Clearly not. Pick up the pace, babe, I’ll slither faster to make you jump.

And jump I have. Jolt I have. Shaken awake, I have been.

I read this  a m a z i n g  piece last night from Pure Green Magazine, 6 questions with one of my teachers and greatest sources of inspiration, Elena Brower. Everything in our lives, everything in our bodies and minds, are a balance of the feminine and masculine. Two energies. They are not separate; they are one, one spectrum. One undulating, but often vacillating, span.

I have been struggling with this spectrum, or perhaps upon this spectrum, rather intensely of late. I listened to an e p i c  podcast yesterday as I strolled through nature, a discussion between two powerful women. A 20 minute conversation in which Ashley Turner, one of my other greatest teachers, soul sisters and sources of inspiration, dove deep into the very subject of balancing masculine and feminine energies within each of us. The importance. The threat we face when we don’t allow these energies to balance. The fear surrounding this allowance.

As a female entrepreneur, an experience which Ashley and Jackie Dumaine touched heavily on in their dialogue, there seems to require quantum leap for success. An illusion that we must abandon our soft feminine sides in order to succeed professionally, financially and stand alone in our power.

This has played a small part in my energetic tug-o-war lately. Part of it has also been rooted in the subtleties of yin and yang. Yin being the soft, slow, more sumptuous feminine energy; yang being the active, more vigorous, masculine energy. We need both. We need Rajas (get up ‘n go!) in balance with Tamas (inertia) to find Sattva (luminous “balance”), in the yogic teachings of the Gunas. There is no one elemental requirement, it is a recipe, a concoction, a desperate need for what I like to call operational balance. 

By “operational balance” I mean mobility. We are never truly in a state of stillness. Even when planted in deep meditation, our cells are changing, our hearts pumping, the molecules of air floating around us. Our atoms are vibrating. Our breath streaming. Part of my intention, as a yogi and as a human being, is to find a steady place of “operational balance.” Stillness within motion. A secure sense of serenity whilst the world moves around me, whilst my physical being tinkers away at maintaining life, homeostasis, within me. Sounds blissful, yeah?

I’ll be really honest here.

I’ve failed miserably at this intention for the past few months.

Yes, you heard me right, I said for the past few months.

It’s no wonder I’m jolting awake from dreams of reptiles invading my bed. No wonder I’m popping awake first thing in the morning, eyes blinking wildly, mind grasping at what day it is, where I’m headed, what I’m to do once my feet hit the floor.

I’ve been constantly mobile, even when still. Even laying in bed, in between dreams, planning, scheming, mentally penciling out all that I want to accomplish, all that I perceive to have fallen short of, all that I can do better.

I’m not ashamed to write it here because I believe, fervently, that to call ourselves on our own shit is to stand in truth. It is to seek redemption, healing, a soothing over of our own foundations. Even if it’s a quivering, knock-kneed, sulking and lackluster stance, it is one anchored in truth.

My feminine energy has felt siphoned and weak, lately. I’ve been bulldozing it with my masculine energy. Physically, professionally, mentally. This has left me depleted and super emotional (my femininity screaming at me to please nurture Her by making me weep at country songs on the radio, fall to my knees at my altar, adorn myself with protective crystals and keep flowers in my room to brighten the dimming flame of my inner Light).

So, what does one do, in a predicament like mine?

Turn to teachers. Read. Journal. Podcast. Seek inspiration. Draw from the well of creativity. Bask in the glow of the muse. What my life is made up of are all elemental necessities; all things, activities, beliefs, practices that I need, that I rely upon, for productivity, growth, wellness, health, balance and nourishment. I don’t want to rid my life of anything I’m doing. But I need to add to my repertoire more healing, balancing, loving practices. I need to call upon some of the balancing and replenishing coping mechanisms I so adoringly practice, but have let fall by the wayside. More yin to stand equally with my yang. What I’m saying is,

I don’t want to do anything differently; I want to do DIFFERENTLY what I’m already doing. 

Does that make sense?

It’s not about what we do, it’s about how we do it. It’s not so much what we say, it’s the attitude with which we say it. It’s the conviction with which we believe what we believe. It’s the energy with which we love, not the words “I love you.” It’s not the physical form, but the ethereal matter within that brings a person alive.

So bring on the snakes. I’m ready for the emotional healing. I’m ready to take on the swelling challenge that floats before me. It’s frankly easier to stop doing one thing and replace it with another. It is. It doesn’t sound like it, but it is. That’s easier that doing the same thing differently. It takes a cunning, articulate focus, an unparalleled depth of desire and commitment, to cultivate the very subtle finesse needed to recalibrate one’s approach to one’s own life. THAT is transformation.

Our human minds often resort to black and white thinking, I am no exception. It is the crux of my struggles in this life. While it’s difficult to change behaviors and patterns of any kind, it’s simply easier to go from black to white. Rather than white to ivory, black to ebony, shades of grey, varying degrees of sameness.

But this is my challenge for us all, dear serpent-powered Tribe: to fertilize the soil in which we have already planted. The earth from which we already grow. I believe in us, collectively and individually, I believe in our capacity to approach our lives, to inch towards everything we already do, think, believe and practice with refined tact. Reborn strategy. I believe we can renew the way already are, so as to better serve our highest purpose. I believe in us. I believe in our transformation.

Sometimes, what we perceive to be the scariest things, like snakes and spiritual elevation, are actually saving Grace we’ve been awaiting. Sometimes, it’s just the call of our own, sacred transformation.

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Honey in the Heart ~ Gemini Full Moon

Full moon in Gemini tomorrow morning at 4:27am (for us in California…7:27am Eastern, 11:27am for my Aussies and 1:27pm in Europe). The sun is still in Sagittarius, which interestingly, the moon also was when we set intentions at the start of this cycle. This celestial positioning is really supportive of seeing visions to fruition. Finishing what we started (perfect timing for the end of a lap around the sun, yeah?). As the year closes, let’s harness this full moon potential more than any of the 11 before it. There’s mercurial energy abounding, beckoning clarity and truth, full disclosure with Self and other. I’ve been sensing a strong urge in the cosmos to incite the SEEKER within. Do you feel it? We are all seekers, by nature, but our external attachments and identifications can distract us and potentially even knock us off this path. It’s mean to be that way. That’s part of the seeking. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. It is VERY easy to leak all of our energy into the abyss, focusing on “action” and losing sight of VISION. The Gemini full moon begs both logic and intuition, a sultry yoking of yin and yang. Making sh*t happen whilst staying rooted in Grace and Divine Femininity. The energy building is like the trembling felt before a quake. You know? Pebbles rattling forth and back, cracks in the pavement bracing themselves to split wide open and let the mirth of Divinity erupt. This is a precipice. Not one of destruction; yes this quake will do some demolishing, it will leave a gaping hole, but it is just the surgically reconstructive measure you’ve been calling forth into your life this entire year. Think about it…this little calm before the storm, fully illuminated by Chandra Herself, is a sacred space in which to have a little dance, take a good look at what’s about to unfurl, and invite some lighthearted play into your realm. Make space for all that is to burst forth organically. There’s no work to be done but to be present and to foster the needle-fine thread of balance between inward devotion and outward expression. Don’t bottle up a thing; express everything you’re feeling, COMMUNICATE, whether it’s to the pages of your journal, your partner, your own spirit or the Goddess Herself. Remember how POTENT the full moon energy is. It amplifies everything. So be wise and meticulous about said communication. Be playful and easy but also rooted in vision. Let the magnified energy of abundance assist you in weaving a sturdy equilibrium between action and vision. Let the high energy FEEL GOOD. Let Chandra illuminate within you what is already organically there. Let the seeds you’ve planted be fertilized. Sit in the moonlight, lick the raindrops from your chin, set out your crystals to charge and your moonfusion elixir to steep. It’s time to let go. It’s time to release. Fortify yourself for the coming solstice and the return of the sun by gently laying fear down, a sweet and grateful release, as it’s led us to where we are right now. Lay fear down gently, my loves, and plunge honey heart first into the sweet, warm, pulsing energy of all you’ve manifested…into the sacred nectar of life that awaits. Happy full moon, earth angels. ❤

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Awaken

I believe that what happens to us in this life is preordained. We are held and guided by a higher force. Call it what you will; Divine Mother, God, cosmic consciousness, Goddess, Self, the universe…we are held.

But just because things are “happening as they’re meant to” does not mean we should walk blindly through this life. It does not mean everything will fall into place and we have no work to do. We do have work to do. There is work to be done.

Preordained grace does not give us a free pass to fall asleep at the wheel. We cannot expect destiny to neatly lay gifts in our laps, just because we’re trucking along. We must be aware, we must activate, we must awaken.

What is it that sustains our own unique little universe? What is it that tugs and pulls at the sinews and fibers of our own unique little matrix? What is it that keeps us up at night, when the stars vibrate so silently that it’s deafening? What is it that strips away our layers till we’re raw and crying at the sheer heartbreaking beauty and terrifying mystery of the unknown?

Wafting from cracks in the pavement, showering down from the stars, emanating from the shivering branches of trees is our “meant to be.” It’s everywhere. It’s everyone. It’s all around us. But we must fearlessly turn our gaze upwards. We must look it straight in the eyes, we must peer into the darkness and trust the light will appear. Because the Divine Mother can lay everything out perfectly, but if we’re blind and sleeping, how can we see Her signs? How can we hear Her whispers?

Just because our destiny beckons us does not mean it is inherently ours. We must – we must – activate our power. Too often we give our power away. Too often we mistake fearful compliance for divine trust.

Trusting the process, allowing the sacred to hold us safe, is very different from throwing up our hands and giving in. Offering ourselves to the Divine and allowing Her to take the wheel is irresponsible. We are not empty vessels. Our ships can crash if we do not make an effort to steer them. We can ask Her grace to fill us and guide us, but we then must step up to the plate. We must do our part. We can be led Divinely down the most sacred, perfect path – the path where all our deepest desires will manifest – but if we don’t see them, we will pass them by. Do you understand what I’m saying? Am I speaking to you? We can walk right past our soulmate, pass by the building where we would have been offered our dream career, completely miss the courtyard filled with the guiding light that was to inspire our greatest artistic masterpiece…if we don’t pay attention. You can lead a horse to water…we must recognize our thirst and willing to drain the water.

I pulled an angel card from my oracle deck just before sitting down to this piece. It was “Blessing in Disguise.” It read, “What appears to be a problem is actually part of your answered prayer. You’ll understand the reasons behind your present situation as everything resolves. Trust in heaven’s protection and infinite wisdom to answer your prayer in the best way.” The angels sent you this card to help you recognize the blessing in the midst of an apparent challenge. What you’ve appear to have lost needed to fall away, and will be replaced with something better. Have no fear for your future, but continue praying and following the guidance that comes to you through repetitive feelings, thoughts, visions and words. Additional meanings for this card: One door closes another one opens • The “how” is up to God with respect to the best way to answer prayers • Release the need to control and predict the outcome of this situation • Trust.

My guru gave me a mantra some time ago. Om Parasaktyai Namaha. It means offer every disturbance to the supreme Shakti, treat every ripple as sacred teacher, release the intense need to craft your life so Grace can guide you and hold you safe. I recite it every day. Before asana, after asana; during, before, after meditation; in the car; in my bed; before a meal. Sometimes at the strangest moments. Sometimes in moments that simply beg for the fullness of those words. The mantra is dropped into my consciousness from above whenever needed, and I don’t question it. I marvel, yes. But I don’t question it. I take the life raft, I swallow the spiritual pill, I infuse my cells with the medicinal potion of their weight and trust trust trust.

We can get so caught up in definitions, concepts, the illusion of permanence. We can become so  afraid of ideas, of words. God, prayer, holiness, Spirit. These words have caused wars. These arrangements of letters elicit images, palpable reluctance, visceral emotions. But what is any word, really, but a feeling? Why do we allow ourselves to be locked up in definitions? Why do we even attempt to define ourselves, or anything at all? Man laid meaning to letters, after all.

Love. Truth. Trust. Wisdom. Remembrance. Oneness. Peace.

These words are just as sacred as God, prayer, holiness, Spirit, temple, worship, scripture. Because what are they but feeling, emotion, vibration?

One of my most favorite, cherished poems is this one…

My heart holds within it every form,
it contains a pasture for gazelles,
a monastary for Christian monks.
There is a temple for idol-worshippers,
A holy shrine for pilgrims;
There is the table of the Torah,
and the book of the Koran.
I follow the religion of Love
and go whichever way His camel leads me.
This is the true faith;
This is the true religion.
~Ibn Arabi

We are one. Love is our common blood. Truth is our uniting force. Angelic Divinity is our shared source. We are born from the same pure spring. We drip the same magic, we contain within us the same vast, black, starless canvas of moonlit, wondrous potential. So why do we insist on keeping up this act, why do we continue to cover for the ignorant villain that is separation? There is no separation. All is one. We are one. We are everything. We are everyone.

Our paths are littered with gifts. But just because we consist of stardust and bliss, just because we are children of the God and Goddess, does not mean we will be without suffering. Learning to remember the sweetness of our own inherent worth, learning to read the symbols and hear the poetry of our own deserving nature, learning to recognize the depth of the unconditional love that holds us safe…is not always easy. But it is essential to our transformation. Without awakening and activating, we cannot transform. Our souls will remain suspended in a false safety. And it is just that…false.

The people, places, experiences, objects and feelings that puncture our hearts, stretch our spirits, spill into our crown chakra and trickle through our cellular matrix are meant. to. be. there. They are sent to us from grace Herself. May we swallow our fear and learn to trust the burning in our center that leads us forward, that beckons us towards these people, places, experiences, objects and feelings. They are our teachers, our temple, our idols and our religion. They are the very reflections of ourselves, the counterpoints of our own souls. They are no accident. 

I believe that what happens to us in this life is preordained. We are held and guided by a higher force. But we must come to terms with our responsibility in this journey. Often our greatest blessings are disguised by a thin veil of conflict, confusion, fear, doubt. Don’t be fooled by the disguise. See through the veils. Burn away the doubt with truth. Anoint the questionable with faith.

It is overwhelming what an extreme privilege it is to be able to hold space for such a sacred practice, to be able to commandeer such an exquisite venture. Acknowledging how very blessed we are, what a sincere honor it is to be able to pursue liberation, is the most grounding, humbling, gratifying practice. It is the precipice for the deep work that will, inevitably, lead us to our own freedom. Our own recognition of truth, love, healing. Our own clarification of God and holiness, Spirit and prayer. We are being led and invited to awaken. To active. We are being called forth. It is time for our own discovery. It is time for us to open our eyes and expose the sacred, preordained life we have so profoundly chosen. Wake up. It’s starting.

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Fundamental Truths

As I stood at the kitchen sink meditatively massaging the inside of a large pan with the soapy sponge, I was struck with a wave of nostalgia. I had a sudden and vivid memory of the first time I learned the difference between “pot” and “pan.” This must have been a memory from grade school, a grammar lesson, but it suddenly felt fresh in my cells. I couldn’t help but marvel at the sensation. We are students of the universe, constantly learning and ever-evolving. But the teaching of such simple knowledge? The acquisition of fundamental truths? Most of these happened early on in our sweet little lives, when we were just wee little kiddos.

I remember learning how to address an envelope in second grade, and mailing ourselves letters as practice. I recall practicing the alphabet, and later cursive, on dotted line worksheets at smooth desks poised on the edge tiny chairs. I can visualize the finger paints on my skin in preschool as I was familiarized with the color wheel, the new shades created when one puddle mixes with another.

I am stages away from finishing up my post-grad studies and will soon be a Certified Nutritionist. Just yesterday I spoke with my mom about the wonder of learning. The conversation was prompted by an experience with an acquaintance earlier that day. A man in his late forties or early fifties, I presume, someone who knows my general doings and the brushstrokes of my educational route. Yesterday he asked me my age. When I replied that I’m 26 he nodded. “I was 30 when I learned Swedish,” he said matter-of-factly, “and it was hard.” I nodded in appreciation, taking in his words.

It is harder now to make space for new, foreign information that it was at the start of college, I suppose. I couldn’t quite grasp whether there was truth to the concept for me, in this moment, at this point in my life. But upon reflection, and prompted by this sudden memory just now at the sink, I am rather amazed by the notion. When we’re children, we’re blank slates, fresh canvases. We have space and capacity for learning likely greater than our own knowing. But as we age, on both a physical and psychological level, it’s more challenging to retain new information. It’s not to say we can’t achieve phenomenal intellectual feats or become greatly educated later in life, not at all. Many of the greatest scholars, philosophers, authors and thinkers actually came into themselves later in their lives. We gain more wisdom and clarity the  more life we have in our rearview mirrors. But it’s simply a a fact that we have less “empty space” the more life we have lived, the more we have experienced, the more we have filed away in our minds.

We don’t have less capacity for learning, we just have more information cluttering the sky-high shelves of our intellect. Grammar, mathematics, locker combinations, pin numbers, passwords, names, song lyrics, directions, memories…it goes on and on. Our brains, if we could open them up and uncoil them onto the table for inspection, would provide miles and miles of fascinating, brilliant, mundane, useless and priceless information. Facts and dreams and images and ideas. We are brilliant time capsules, walking encyclopedias, sponges ever soaking up the data we are drenched in with each waking day.

How beautiful is this? This life, this capacity to learn, to know, to forget and to learn again. How nice would it be to take a clean cloth to the parts of our brains that are crammed with useless information…wiping the slate and making space to be filled with new, fresh material. I’m fascinated by this concept. Who’s to say we can’t do that?

Sure, we can’t literally take a cloth to the inside of our brains (please don’t try this at home). But what we can do is access our pineal gland, the “seat to our soul,” our third eye. We can tap into our intuition, via mediation and self-reflection (journaling, pranayama, silent time spent immersed in nature, sitting down to the sensory feast provided by the world on a moment-to-moment basis – if only we could stop and have a listen…). We have the power to harness our dreams, our waking thoughts, and embody them to their utmost capacity. As beings of light we are not just here to know pin numbers and memorize formulas and learn languages. Yes, we need to do these things too, but what if we mindfully sectioned off a portion of the brain to contain this monotony, and opened the rest up to the Divine? What if we offered all that remaining space, with fiercely beautiful intention, to the realm of creativity, passion, artistry and imagination?

What if we dropped the “what if” and just did it? What then? I think we might amaze ourselves.

We were born to be creators, passion flaming, we were born as artists, imaginations wild and unbound. The human brain is a brilliant, brilliant phenomenon. The amount of potential we have is greatly more than we actually access, on average. The human mind is another phenomenon altogether; I see the brain as the physical manifestation of the mind. The mind is much more encompassing. The mind operates outside of the brain, all the way to the fingertips, it emanates from the body via thoughts and energetic intentions. I believe the brain is exercised by fundamental truths…pot versus pan, red versus blue, 7^2 is 49, slavery was abolished in 1865. I believe the mind is exercised by tapping into magic…meditation, imagination, singing, writing, taking photographs, music, dancing, drinking in the beauty of nature, making love, laughing, delighting in colors, moving the body with breath, pranayama, deep relaxation, studying, reading, embodying utter stillness and presence, mindful intention setting, journaling, dreaming.

We’re pretty set on the brain exercises. Most of us operate on a day-to-day basis working jobs, driving cars, going to the bank, paying bills. We are bombarded by numbers, decisions, equations, formulas and details almost incessantly. Our left brain is, I dare say, chronically overstimulated. Our right brain, however, often gets shut down in order to make more space for logic, reasoning, critical thinking. But that only gets us so far. Because, while I’m grateful to have the capacity for discernment, what does it really matter if I call the pan a pan or if I call it a pot? It doesn’t matter. It will cook my vegetables nonetheless. But if I marvel at the texture of the pot pan, if I get lost in a poem about the way the food sizzles upon its surface, the way the fragrance rises, curling seductively from the stovetop, warming the kitchen while the frosty winter air clings threateningly to the outsides of the windows…that matters. That is an experience worth making space for.

My point is that there is a serene oneness between these two seemingly separate entities. The right and left brain are one. The reason and the intuition lean on one another, support one another. The structure is not sound without one or the other. So let’s work on our right brain exercises. This means: permission to daydream. Permission to make up songs, barefoot in the kitchen, while scrambling eggs in a pot and boiling soup in a pan. While drinking tea from a bowl and broth from a mug. While standing on the ceiling, steam curling upwards toward the floor. Because what’s a name without an image to match it? What’s reason without recognition? We are the creators of our own universe. We are the pilots of our own orbit and we determine whether we fly through thick fog, trusting we are flying because we’re in a plane…or soaring above the clouds, drinking in the blues and pinks of the sky, toasting in the heat of the sun and cooling in the light of the moon, taking in valleys and mountains, ocean and treetops, letting rain wash clean our exterior and humidity cleanse us from the inside out. We can know we’re flying because we see it, we feel it, we taste it and we hear it. We can know we’re flying because we have given life to the world around us.

You’re flying, didn’t you know? We are in flight, and that is the most fundamental truth that has ever been.

Awaken.

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Burning Karma

Do you feel this fierce new moon energy? Holy cow! Rich and ripe…wafting all around, ours for the taking. The three days leading to and following the new moon are the most potent for access. A time for self-inquiry, visualization, meditation, affirmation, intention setting and, ultimately, RELEASE. Release what no longer serves you, make space for what you seek and desire; release positive intentions with palms open to the heavens and harness Her energy of potential. Shedding old skin, shimmying out of the outermost layer which has fulfilled its purpose, spreading our wings and fearlessly accepting this Divine offering of the Mother…the same one She bestows upon us every single month. What a gift! A night of darkness, holding for us the sweet space of renewal. We are being reborn with every breath, each cell bathing in new life faster than we can comprehend. We are miracles, and we are offered this natural, rhythmic, celestial miracle every single cycle; this opportunity to purge, to be vulnerable, to empty completely….so that we may stand in our strength, and let ourselves be filled up again, drop by sacred drop. Vessels of the Divine.

What a complete whirlwind of change the last couple weeks in my world have been, I tell you. So much release, so much shifting, I almost can’t keep up. We took up something on social media, within our little Tribe, called the Gratitude Challenge. For five days we posted three things for which we were grateful for or felt positive about. It. Was. Incredible. It bled into so many different realms within the inter webs that the effect was resounding. It spread to other nations, and it diluted the otherwise mundane and meaningless bombardment of social media with something truly pure and beneficial.

It led me to create a branch of The R3 Movement called the Radical Self-Care Pledge. Simply a pledge to be as diligent to one’s self-care as one is to one’s job or hobbies, fitness routine or social life. A promise to be radical, radiant and revolutionary in the act of self-care, as it is one of self-preservation, not selfish but rather a fortification to preserve the energy one needs to be a force of nature in this world. I’ve been loving the pledge, needless to say. A reason to find even the tiniest pocket of space every single day for me, just me.

On the heels of this, and totally in relation to its creation, I also launched my Social Media Fast (#SMF on instagram). It was completely inspired by Jessica Sepel’s JS Health “switch-off” where she goes media-free for a day each week. I was enamored by the idea and have taken to this practice myself. For one day each week, no social media. No Facebook, instagram, twitter, email, internet. It. Is. Brilliant. The effects are palpable. A quietness…a solitude. I’ll admit even a loneliness, at times, has risen to the surface. So interesting to observe how I fill space with these devices, get lost in a world that is, in essence, not a world at all. It’s clear that we so often use social media as an escape, a social life perhaps at times, and as a black hole when we are exhausted or craving distraction. I think that social media is brilliant for entrepreneurs (thank Goodness I have been able to promote my writing on Facebook, it’s connected me to so many incredible souls I can’t even begin to fathom how difficult it would be to network without these platforms!), expanding social circles (I have become friends with many unfamiliar faces from the yoga studio now just because of the wonderful Gratitude Challenge) and for sharing beautiful, uplifting thoughts. The latter, though, is so often not what we see when we make our way into the two-way mirror that is social media. With one day weekly completely fasting, and the other days spent checking only minimally and, mostly, to participate in the uplifting challenges my teacher has shared, I have found a huge release around the obligatory “checking and posting” rut in which so many of my generation get stuck. A freedom. A carelessness over what’s happening anywhere but right in front of me. Like one swift exhale.

Next came a brilliant creation of my teacher Mynx’s; the Month of Magic (#MOM on instagram). This one is geared towards collectively raising the vibration, with the understanding that the power of many is greater than the power of one. It’s been really quite phenomenal. If I thought the gratitude challenge had made waves, this baby is blowing it out of the water. It’s spread far and wide, it fills my heart to the point of bursting. If this is what we have the power to transform social media into…what power! This is what it should be about. Magic, gratitude, community. Not a platform to parade one’s greatest achievements and expressions of seeming perfection. We all know there is no such thing. We all know that, while positivity is a necessary wind in our sails, realistically we all have our ups and downs.

As if this shift towards literally unplugging and disconnecting so as to figuratively engage and tap in wasn’t enough, I also purchased Jessica Sepel’s The Clean Life. What a GEM of a wellness manual! I am devouring this wellness bible and it’s resonating on such deep levels it’s almost unnerving. Something Jess goes into great detail about in her book is REST.

I know, you might be thinking rest? What about fitness and the best exercises to stay toned, lean and in shape? She shares some of that too, her own routine, but most importantly she harps again and again (and then some more) on rest. “A healthy body is a rested body,” I must have quoted her ten times already since starting the book. It’s neat because I am nearing the end of my nutrition schooling, and Jess’ compact, “nutshell” summaries of stuff that’s really quite dense, science-based and complicated gives a great refresher for me of what I’ve been learning and studying so intently. The book is interactive, with spaces to fill in one’s own experience and sort of journal one’s way through, so it’s been deeply healing. Therapeutic, even. It’s brought to light something I had been ignoring for many moons…

I had forgotten how to rest. I was on “go go go” mode for nearly a year straight. No time for down time. What sort of life is that? I was spending all of my time working, exercising, studying or running the hamster wheel of chores and tasks required to manage an adult life. I was exhausted. I had, personally, created standards of living and expectations so high I could no longer keep up. I had fallen into a rut of habitual tendencies, bolstered by my inherent OCD nature. I had begun to expect myself to do it all, every single day. If I did ten things one day, I expected to do ten, if not eleven, the next. I finally found myself run down, sleepless, anxious and frankly a nervous wreck. In the past couple of weeks, the minor shifts I’ve made – taking as much as was humanly possible off my plate, prioritizing rest, devoting myself to my weekly #SMF, trying hard not to plan everything out in advance and allowing my intuition to move into my world – have had resounding effects. I can’t even comprehend how I was going on day after day in such a numb and mindless rat race, especially when I know better!

That was the biggest part for me. This is my business. Wellness is my craft! How could I be “doing it wrong,” hmm? I laugh now at that phrase. I really felt, deep down, like I was “doing it wrong” but was powerless to stop myself. I knew damn well I would not tell a client to do what I was doing, expecting every single day to be as jam-packed as the last, failing to listen to my body because my mind was overriding my intuitive alarms, getting lost in the pit of planning rather than making space for the Divine to chart a new course. But, even as it was happening, I knew I just had to let it play itself out. I knew with every ounce of me that this was happening for a reason. I needed to experience the sensation “stuck-ness,” at this advanced step of my schooling and early stages of my career, in order to know what to say to my clients one day down the road when I, inevitably, encounter this with them in their own lives. I knew to trust, and now the reward is the sweet rush of release that I had been so deeply craving.

I spent the past week in my hometown visiting my parents. A day at the coast with my mumma Tuesday, climbing a mountain into the clouds with my dad Wednesday; long, therapeutic massages and family relaxing Thursday, then a brisk morning bike ride with my mom and tea in the sunny backyard with my dad on Friday. The week was indescribably healing, grounding and sustaining. It nursed and nurtured me in ways I can’t even fathom. It was just what the doctor ordered. I was tapping into what I needed to do, the role play in this journey of healing…

Carried away by the high of intuitive exploration and acknowledging my Truth, I finally tapped into something else I’d been smothering as well. A dietary concept.  Pescetarianism. I’d been feeling intuitively drawn towards fish for several weeks, even having symbolic dreams and being bombarded with nutrition literature to support the cause. Now, let me say, in my heart of hearts I desperately want to be vegan and thrive. I do. I believe it’s the best way to live, it’s cruelty-free and feel so very clean. I thrive on the concept and the lifestyle makes my heart sing. But (you knew there was a but coming), what I’ve learned in nutrition school has led me down a different path. It was  very – and I emphasize very – difficult to learn what I learned as a strict vegan, finding out day by day that I likely, despite my best efforts, was not getting quite enough of what I needed.

It was a huge challenge to tune into my intuition in this way. I mean, I’m a yoga teacher, a yogini, a spiritualist, I desperately don’t want to take a sentient being’s life for my own benefit! The concept still riddles me with angst. But I slowly incorporated our neighbor’s pet hen eggs into my diet and felt the positive effects in my body and mind. Now, after having reintroduced some fish, I am still battling the guilt. Physically, I feel incredibly well. Spiritually, I feel nourished. I have prayed fiercely before every meal, thanking the sweet fish as well as the Divine Mother, offering up my gratitude for this medicine and treating it as just that. This dietary shift for me is medicinal. It is not for pleasure or preference, it is truly an act of healing. In an effort to not take a pill, I am turning to food as medicine more than ever. What baffles me, though, is I never expected to need to supplement my richly nutritious vegan diet with animal products in order to finally heal and find balance. What a concept!

Through studies of the blood type diet, our intricate endocrine and nervous systems, as well as a deeply meditative look at my own heritage and physical needs, I have found my way to pescetarianism. But I am trying actively to lay down the labels. I promote a plant-based diet; by that I don’t mean vegan, as Divine as it would be for us all to thrive on that diet. I mean a diet based in plants. That could be vegetarian, pescetarian, or omnivorous, so long as the foundation is plants, abundant in leafy greens. So that is what I have prescribed myself. A clean, organic, pranic-healing diet. A basis of organic veggies, unlimited greens, some low GI fruit, moderate gluten-free grains, no processed foods, no sugar, and the medicinal supplementation of pastured happy eggs and some wild, sustainable, low-mercury fish. Occasional grass-fed, organic dairy as tolerated, too. Foods my ancestors would recognize. Food that brings my family and I together around the table like it didn’t when I was vegan (funny how a shared meal of fish could foster such familial bonding…sharing food really is sharing love). While I do not eat meat, no land animal flesh passes my lips, I still feel guilt around eating anything that was ever alive. Despite my prayers, it aches my heart to take life for my own wellbeing. I have spoken to my teachers, prayed and journaled. I have come to a place of peaceful understanding that I do everything in my power to lessen my carbon footprint, and I am stretching my vegetarianism a bit in order to accommodate physical healing. I am trying to rise above any rules, any labels (Prakriti!). I am observing that much of the remaining guilt stems from comparison.

Ohhhh FUCKING comparison!

Pardon my french, but comparing has become the bane of my existence. It is literally driving me nuts. I have come to compare everything at every turn, and I don’t understand why. It only makes me crazy, it only confuses me, it does nothing to benefit me and, yet, I compare on.

I want to say it’s ironic, but as an intuitive I know it most definitely is not, that I sat in meditation this evening over my Zen tarot cards calling forth a collective reading. I pulled one card, asking the Mother to hold space for my girlfriends who are adjusting to some tough energy, as well as myself. Well, I can’t speak for my ladies, but the Universe definitely had Her eye on me because the card I pulled was, of all cards, COMPARISON. I was totally floored. I choked on my breath, and then laughed out loud. A deep, echoing belly laugh. What a comedy this life can be! Nothing is an accident. There are no mistakes. “Namaste. No mistake,” as Byron Katie would say.

So it all comes full circle, then. I’ll tell ya, old habits die hard (ha, as if I need to tell anyone that one). But they do. You know they do. They die harder than brick, harder than stone.

We cannot beat ourselves into submission, and we should never try. I did try, as I’m sure many of you have as well, and we can all agree it’s a terrible way to live. Guilt is poison and perfectionism is a death sentence. We are not perfect. We fall down. We fuck up. We are awesome on Tuesday and on Wednesday our shoes won’t stay tied and we lock our keys in the car. On Thursday we feel on top of the world with energy pouring out our ears and on Friday we just desperately desire a nap. The beauty in that? It’s all okay. It’s all perfect. We require something different every single day and, if we shut our troublesome brains off and get in tune with our inner rhythms, we are more apt to remember the value of the Self. We are more apt to care for ourselves as we would a loved one. We are more apt to rest, move our bodies, feed our souls, nourish ourselves with whole foods, get good sleep, rest, unplug, look up…we are liable to really enjoy life, free of worry and doubt. We are likely to find better health than we’ve ever before known…body, mind, and spirit.

My mom said something brilliant to me when I was home visiting this past week. She said, “when you have those comparing thoughts, when you have any thought that causes you stress, pause…ask yourself, ‘does this thought help or hinder my movement towards my goal?” So, I move into my every moment now holding space for that thought. Does this thought, behavior, image, experience support or undermine my goal? There’s no avoiding one’s Truth when one chooses to stare it straight in the face on a moment-to-moment basis…and I’d rather look a predator dead in the eye than stare at my feet while it eats me alive. I will never leave myself in the dark again. I mean too much to myself to turn off the lights. We are vessels of healing, completely equipped to give ourselves everything we need, in every moment. We are more than we think, and we are responsible for keeping the light burning. We must shine bright so that the Truth is always visible.

I believe in us. We are in this together.

In the words of my teacher and soul sister Lakshmi…Sad Gurunath Maharaj Ki Jay, Victory to the True Self!

May we carry this torch, burning fiercely, into the new moon this Monday morning. May we light our intentions on fire and release everything that is no longer serving us. Sad Gurunath Maharaj Ki Jay, Victory to the True Self . . .

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