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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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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Standing at a Precipice

Last night I dreamt, presumably consecutively, that I was trying on lingerie in a fancy European shop with Sandra Bullock and then standing on a balcony looking out at the view marveling that I could see Spain from where I stood. In the dream, strangeness had no name, as dreams tend to go. So to be standing in, what felt like London or Paris, gazing out at what, my dream sensibility thought of as the island or continent (ha) of Spain, was both awe-striking and yet totally acceptable. I spoke to my companion, now resembling more Penelope Cruz or Jennifer Lopez, I can’t seem to keep the celebrity faces straight as I presume they were morphing (again, as dreams go), marveling at how close we actually were to such an exotic, seemingly faraway land. Such adventure at the tips of our fingers. We could see it from where we stood, the wonder! At the end of this dream, my companion (onto whom I presume I was projecting my own identity – again as dreams go, for me at least) realized I was right and packed her bags. In a smart travel getup complete with a super chic sailor’s scarf, she climbed aboard a ship to traverse the small distance separating one country (island, continent, block of land, no definitions held any meaning in this dream) from the other and set off for her adventure.

The first dream is totally inconsequential (or is it?). Trying on fancy French lingerie with some girlfriends, one of whom just happened to be the super star Miss Bullock herself (oh, the crowd I run with…HA!), chatting about men and life. The latter holds far more weight, in my mind.

I just couldn’t get past the awe I felt, my eyes devouring the chunk of land that held on it such adventure, such newness.

As for the A-list cast, I simply attribute that to having watched the Oscars on my recent visit home. How did I remember this dream? Well, I frankly wouldn’t have, if not for my who-knows-what-A.M. scribbling on my whiteboard in the dark. I woke this morning to see a few words from each dream scrawled in light pink chicken scratch, diagonally across the whiteboard where I write out my to-do list and reminders. Funnily, even in my sleep-laced state, I had managed to scribble said chicken scratch diagonally just beside my neatly bullet-listed itinerary for the next day. Gave me a chuckle before diving in to translate what my dream walking Self had so pointedly wanted to remember.

I’ve been carrying this with me all day. Adventure lay at the tips of my fingers. Destinations and notions that, by default, seem so foreign, exotic and faraway…can actually be seen from right here. Right here where we stand. Who knew?

I find this dream to be very symbolic of life and the way I look at it, especially in the coming year. I feel on the brink of something, something I can’t quite name. There’s a lot of energy going full steam ahead with all I’m personally pursuing and building, and there’s lots under wraps. A lot in the works. It feels great, and at the same time it sometimes feels like a kettle about to boil. Steam just begging to burst through the spout. A volcano trembling, sending microscopic fragments of stone flying, hot magma bubbling just beneath the surface.

I’m standing at a precipice. The path behind me has been erased. It’s move forward and move upward. The only two directions to go. Sometimes, when fear and doubt set in, the view is foggy. It can be frightening. But what my dream has shown me is that whether or not I can see “Spain” off in the distance, illuminated by bright, sunshiny rays against a blue backdrop, my “Spain” is there. Spain symbolizes the journey, the next step, not even a destination. For me Spain symbolizes my dreams. Adventure. Even on those foggy days, I can walk on the clouds. I can step off the crag, leaving my precipice behind me as just another stop along my path, and walk barefoot on the soft, billowing sky cushions. Even if the ground is not solid, I know it will hold me. Be it hard or soft, I will make the journey. I will remember “my Spain.” I will leap, and I will be held.

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Nothing Trumps Authenticity

There are so many things I sat down intent on writing about this evening. Let me just give some examples, to offer you a peek into the Monet that is my writing muse today (from far away it looks okay but up close it’s a big ‘ol mess! Yes…that was a Clueless quote, for all you other 90’s kids. I digress…). Marriage, vegetarianism, intuition, fear, routine, money, death, pregnancy, reckless abandon, fitness, and realizing one’s own purpose.

HA!

With all of that floating around my head, how am I to choose? I had a few essays sketched out in my mind, most of them coming to me with poor timing…as the hot water serenaded my back in the shower, or as I flew down the freeway, rising up off the pavement in undulating waves. Some came to me bound and twisted in the middle of my asana practice, others when my hands were (quite literally) full in the middle of a workday. It goes without saying that none of these scenarios played out in places where I could stop and feasibly jot down even bits of what I wanted to later write here, on this blank canvas. So, instead, I have an entire week’s worth of thoughts, a mishmash, “sloppy joe” of an essay coming out now, the blinking cursor hardly pausing before the next ill-planned word makes its presence known.

I suppose it’s really quite fitting, actually, this mass exodus of random ideas. Haphazard and waiting for no one. Outside the sunset is burning orange and pale pink on the horizon, the trees a dark and wispy silhouette against the pastel layer cake sky. I’m sitting here feeling pretty accomplished, quiet, composed – and yet my ideas today resemble something quite the opposite. With a typical essay I sit down like a painter, my ideas neatly arranged like squirts of thick oil paint on a palette. Today they’re more like like water colors, beautiful but unruly, all running together and becoming one.

Perhaps it’s a good lesson for me, the ambiguity. I’m such a concrete person by nature (my label maker was my prized possession as a child), always having been happy to tidily categorize aspects of my life till the cows came home. But sometimes things just aren’t so neat and tidy. Even when life feels calm and rather placid, it can appear a watery, idly blended, indeterminate color. And isn’t there something beautiful about that in itself? Isn’t there something satisfying about the nebulous, not-to-be-pinned-down nature of it?

It’s up to us to determine how we see our own lives. If I choose to see my scattered and clumped together ideas as messy and frustrating, then they will be. Or I could choose to smirk at the hulking mass of them, glommed together awkwardly as though touched by the hand of Midas in their mad, climbing dash to reach the tip of my consciousness. I could see that bulbous hunk for what it is; pure gold.

Nothing trumps authenticity. Be kind to yourself. Even on the mishy mashy watercolor days, the bulbous hunk of ideas days, the can’t hold two thoughts at once days…it’s all gold. Pure, pure gold. So embrace it. Be it. Be YOU. Be your gorgeous, glorious, vibrant, perfectly flawed, absolutely brilliant, ONLY one of you out their Self. Because no one else can. No one else can admire the amorphous nature of your cloudy mind nor can they pick apart the shining perfection of your neatly categorized headspace…because no one else gets to be inside your skull.

That’s our gift; one of many. We are the only ones allowed inside the borders of our own mysterious minds, to tinker with things as we wish. We can pick up a thought and lie it down across the room, the room of our brain that is, and then find it a week later and look at it in a new light. No one else has the master key to our heart. The place where both the juiciest warmth is bred and the shrillest, most biting cold can make a home. No one else can choose whether we decide to melt or freeze, empty or fill this promise-filled hollow space. We are the only ones with access to the space within the fibers of our spirit. The place where we can spin dreams and wild fantasies, where we know without a shred of doubt that we are safe even, when the thrilling, heart-racing rush of uncertainty beckons us to entertain it.

Bask in this gift. This threefold gift. This inherent gift. Let go of the rules and expectations, as we just love to build rules and expectations around ourselves; a fortress of self-doubt and fear masquerading as protection. Let go, just as I’ve let go of any hope that this essay would have a predetermined direction, or any direction whatsoever. I just keep typing. Keeping both hands on the wheel, my eyes straight ahead, the seatbelt on. The Universe has it all under control. We think we have to direct energy all day long, as though anything we do, think or say really has the capacity to override the Universe’s will. We are sacred, sentient beings, yes; but we are merely players in her big, gorgeous game. Dots on the map. We serve a purpose and that purpose is to serve one another. We best serve one another by nourishing ourselves holistically. We can begin to do that by letting go, letting go in every way we can while still being genuine, aware, awake, inspired beings of energy. Letting go of all the junk, the trash, the lumps of coal that weigh us down. Making space in our palms for the hunks of gold that we find inside our minds, the sparkly threads that come loose from our spirits, the warm and weighty echo of a heart beating true.

Life doesn’t always look the way we intended it to, planned it to, expected it to. Life, choreographed by the Divine Mother Herself, doesn’t always do what we [think we] want. But always, without a doubt, no matter how messy or brilliant it may look in the moment, it always ends up taking us exactly where we’re meant to go. So keep both hands on the wheel, eyes ahead, seatbelt on…and just enjoy the ride. Because you are doing your job…being fearlessly, unapologetically you, just as I am being fearlessly, unapologetically me. And that’s a job well done. Because nothing trumps authenticity.

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Puzzle Pieces

Why, I wonder, is it such a curious notion that sometimes in life relationships end? Why is it surprising that sometimes people fade or crash out of our lives as subtly or extraordinarily as they came in? Why does it feel such a weighty idea that human beings cross our paths with a purpose, and when that purpose is served, our paths often divide?

I spent yesterday with my mom, my most favorite person on the face of the earth. I made us lunch and we sat, just chatting. She told me stories and I sat, listening, feet curled beneath me, just watching her talk. Watching her smile, hearing her joy. It’s pretty rad to be grown up and able to hear stories from your mom like you’d hear from a girlfriend. Learn the details of encounters and experiences that I vaguely remember from when I was a child, and understand them with an adult mind.

My mom was telling me yesterday about a relationship she had and we spent the better part of an hour reminiscing on a particular person. This morning, over the phone, we revisited the conversation. I’ve mentioned before that my mom is my greatest spiritual guide, and her wisdom never fails to fortify me. What we kept dancing on was a familiar topic, one that we have discussed many times and one that many great speakers, authors, philosophers and the like have delved into. Relationships; people; why things sometimes end. 

What is it about forever that makes us cling, cling like fuzz to fabric and children to parents’ legs? What is it about the concept that turns us into fools, seeing an end, a destination, rather than a journey? What’s so wrong with meeting someone, learning from them and they from you, and then parting ways?

It goes against our romantic grain, that’s what’s wrong with it. But the truth is there’s nothing wrong with the idea, what needs shifting is our perspective. Forever definitely happens, there are plenty of people who meet and know one another forever. Sometimes people mate for life, and there are real life “best friends forever.” But just as magical as those unions are the ones that are fleeting…like bursts of lights, meteors of human interaction. Relationships that last months, or even years, and which turn over unfathomable marvels and truths. Connections that offer us solace, guidance, insight, safety, challenge and growth. Partnerships can lift us up higher than we could have climbed on our own, sometimes they serve as a crutch, always they teach us about ourselves. But what the fairytales didn’t tell us as little kids is that “happily ever after” is not the only way.

What if I told you that tomorrow you would meet the most exquisite human being you’ve ever met, and that you’d know them for eight months, create incredible memories, forge a beautiful bond, and then you would go your separate ways…how would you feel? Probably pretty wounded. Not even having had this experience yet, you might feel disappointment…set up for let down. You might feel afraid to even have this relationship at all. Or, perhaps you’d feel the opposite. Maybe you’d feel a tinge of relief, just knowing it’s not “forever.” Knowing you’re meant to take careful note of the lessons learned in this experience, and carry them with you into your future, with or without this other person.

The truth is, sometimes relationships end. Romances end; the candle burns down or the flame blows out. Sometimes friendships unravel; the threads fray and get woven in elsewhere. Now and again we lose people we don’t want to lose. Sometimes we part ways mutually. Occasionally we do the leaving. Family members, friends, lovers, spouses…of the myriad of human connections we both build and are born into, only some last forever. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. Not every romance should last forever! If they did we’d all still be with our first love and, for many of us, our personal development would be significantly stunted by having missed out on all of the mistakes and masterpieces that were meant to follow. 

We hurt so that we can grow. The human body is an expert at healing and regenerating. As is the spirit. As is the heart. As is the mind. We fall in love on a daily basis…with people, sunsets, flavors, feelings, experiences. These little bursts of love are often topped the very next day, when we meet another person, see another sunset, taste another flavor…but does that take any of the brilliance from yesterday’s love? No. Does meeting a new friend take away any of the meaning in a friendship you shared with someone ten years ago? No. Does getting remarried negate the passion and promise that you took into your first wedding? Of course not.

I’m not saying everything is meant to end. I’m a romantic and that’s a terribly pessimistic view. What I’m saying is that, at 25, I’m beginning to wrap my brain around the fact that some things are meant to end. It won’t always be signaled by smoke and flames, either, which can be the hardest part. A friend you’ve grown away from, no fights or toxicity, just a heavy sense that there’s no longer a common light by which to warm your palms. A lover who you know, deep down, is only really a ship in the night. Two souls on very different journeys, hunkered together in a pocket of warmth to weather a blissful little storm, before heading off on opposite paths. 

There’s something deeply freeing about the admission that this is life. This is reality. Many of our greatest loves in life are old flames, childhood friends, pets, people to whom we are inexplicably tied for life. 

I feel like I keep going in circles trying to explain this, but I guess the bottom line is idealized relationships don’t exist. Real relationships exist. Human beings share interactions for a reason and they end when they’re meant to end. The issue arises when we can’t let go, when we can’t accept that everything happened perfectly, divinely. The only problem lies in the resistance that our beautiful, fragile, exquisite human hearts bring to the table…our unwillingness to surrender. Surrender to the Divine, to fate, to “what’s meant to be.” Why do we fight it? I don’t know why. I don’t know why I fight it. Because I can say, without a shred of doubt, that some of the greatest people I have ever known, and some of the greatest lessons I have ever learned, now live in perfectly suspended memories. The relationships have gone on into space, circulating around, their magical little particles separating and recycling into new relationships between other human beings.

Sometimes no tangible person, no relationship right in front of you, can fill you with the same certainty as a memory. As the revisiting in your mind’s eye of experience long since had. When time is no barrier and your vision is crystal clear. When you can see a person’s purpose in your life, why your paths intersected, why they’re chapter overlapped with yours…when you can identify the authenticity and clarity you gathered from having been you while they were them, from having been those two people in that time, together…that’s when the sighing value sinks in. The moment when you know the puzzle of your life fits perfectly today for having spilled out and sorted your pieces then.

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Must Trust Must Trust Must Trust

Last night I sliced the h-e-double-hockeysticks out of my left thumb. I literally left puddles of blood all over the house in my attempt to change bandaids throughout the evening. It was like a crime scene. I momentarily considered going to the ER for stitches, before the reality sunk in that all the people with non-digit (aka actually serious) injuries would be seen first, and I’d likely waste 4-6 hours waiting for thread to be painfully woven into my flesh.

You can understand why I chose to, instead, kill two boxes of bandaids at home.

Pardon the TMI here, but the bleeding just would not stop. When it finally came time for bed I was still completely wired as a result of all the blood sighting (I’m a queasy little doe) and my PM cacao creations. A girl can only blame herself here, for the theobromine fix late in the evening that is, but seriously, I can’t seem to quit my healthy cacao concoction habit. At least there’s antioxidants pulsing through my high as a kite body. Hi I don’t do stimulants, can you tell… I digress.

As I was trying to inch myself towards lights out, I noticed I was bleeding through yet another set of bandages. Cool beans, dude. At this point I’m seriously concerned my thumb is going to bleed all over my fresh sheets and cream pillowcases. So I bandaid the funk out of it and called it a night.

Well, little miss Cacao Queen here bandaided her poor swingnone (my word for “finger” as a toddler) straight into oblivion. The circulation was literally struggling to make it to the thumb. Which I didn’t realize in a timely manner. Plus side? I managed to stop the bleeding after six hours. Down side? I couldn’t sleep at all. Oh, the throbbing…the miserable, frigging throbbing…

I tried propping my hand up on my headboard (seriously, don’t laugh). I tried resting it over my head, I tried burying it beneath my other hand, under the pillow, under my body. I tried talking menacingly to it, trying to intimidate it into remission. I tossed and turned and whimpered. I got up. I lay back down. I turned on the light. I checked the time. I counted the less than six, five, four hours I’d be getting before the alarm went off. I shook my wounded thumb madly in the air, cursing the kitchen knife (and user error) that landed me in this predicament!

I was to wake up at 5am and go to yoga, my Tuesday morning ritual, have a nice hot shower at the studio and make it to work with plenty of time to eat my yummy brekkie before clocking in.

Plan. Set.

Well, in the middle of the night I came to the dire conclusion that I had to really investigate this bloody, throbbing finger situation (if throbbing could even adequately describe my thumb having taken on its own agonizing heartbeat). Fully prepared to hit up the ER at this point, I stumbled into the who-knows-what-o’clock, blinding light of my bathroom and unwrapped my pulsating, “it’s aliiiiive” swingnone.

What I found was a white, bordering on purple, finger with no feeling whatsoever in the upper portion. Slightly bizarre considering the excruciating pain I’d been in. Unwrapping it and waiting a moment (a moment in which I lightly prodded quizzically at the creepy looking flesh, certain it’d resume its fountain of crimson any moment) actually provided immense relief. The bleeding was momentarily stopped so I wrapped the trauma scene back up and hauled myself into bed.

I woke up at 4am to pee and was frankly ready to start my day. Just another hour of shut-eye, I thought to myself. Normally I’m an 8 hours of sleep minimum girl but, for some reason, I was totally prepared to rock it on 6 hours today. Which leads me to the disappointment of…

…waking up to see it’s light out. Thankfully my eye pillow had come off in my tossing and turning, allowing the light to stream in through my pitious curtains. 

Oh how strange, it’s usually pitch dark at 5am, that’s unusual, I sleepily thought to myself. The senselessness of the thought quickly registered and, upon double take, I saw that the clock read ten past seven. What the SUGAR!!! 

I’d slept through my alarm.

I have never done that in my life. 

Not only had I missed yoga, which I was soooo looking forward to, but I’d also managed to wake up a good ten minutes after I needed to leave the house for work. 

Awesome.

I did take a moment to thank the Universe for knocking my eye pillow off and kicking my internal clock into gear, but then that moment passed and then the curse words came, kind in the way the blood had spurted haphazardly from my thumb the night before.

I tugged on my button cap, flew into some semblance of an outfit (both of which I oddly raked in probably two dozen compliments on today…hey, I guess the Universe gives ya a break where She can…), grabbed my food for the day and ran out the door.

My next door neighbor happened to be sitting outside with one of her little ones as I flung my belongings into my trunk, and she caught wind of my batshit crazy pace. 

“Hey,” 

“I was supposed to leave at 5:30…” I managed.

“…ah,” she nodded. She’s a real no-nonsense gal, which I like. ‘Cuz I’m all about the nonsense. “You won’t even remember this day in 10 years.”

wow. Boom. The penetrating truth of that statement has been sinking in, deeper and deeper, with each passing moment of this day. It’s frankly what got me through the morning. Shook me back into my yogic state of, “everything happens for a reason.” 

She was so right, and it was no accident that she happened to just be randomly sitting on her front steps outside her gate at 7-something in the morning, not doing anything but sitting there…the Universe laid it all out. It didn’t even fully process until later just how profound that sentence was. My face registered my appreciation of her statement, even though my mind was still racing to say yeah but yeah but yeah but! 

“Plus,” she added as I was climbing into the driver’s seat, “your body probably thanks you for the extra sleep.”

Yeah, there’s definitely that.

I pulled out of the driveway, momentarily calmed by her words. Then I glanced at the clock again and the curse words caught up to me.

As I drove to work I broke one of my golden rules. I ate breakfast behind the wheel.

Gasp.

I know, I know, the horror…a nutrition advisor, a mindfulness mentor, eating behind the wheel?! No bueno. I know. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

I’ll save y’all the savagery that both the freeway and backroads unveiled and just tell you I clocked in 40 minutes late. 

I was hardly awake, hadn’t had my morning yoga practice (which is rare), and I felt a little like my face was on backwards. 

I told everyone my sob story at work (mostly because I was afraid they’d think I was lying if I didn’t tell every person the truth, but also because I just tend to do that) and was fully expecting the day to go miserably. What shocked my little socks off, though, was that circumstances were quite the contrary.

I felt so human. 

Now, let me say that I come into contact with people on a daily basis who are having bad days. I get to see them for just an instant of time, often when they’re rushing like mad and trying to multi-task early in the morning. I hear them say things like, “I’m not even awake,” and, “I just need to go back to bed and start over.”

I commiserate, but frankly, I rarely feel that way (which I attribute less to my competence as a human being and more to the fact that I just so happen to be a morning person). 

This morning was different, though. had become one of those people. The one who wasn’t awake, felt like her face was on backwards, slept through her alarm, whose plans were totally bunked and who would love nothing more than to crawl back into bed and get a do-over. I felt myself connecting with people who felt the same way, when normally I’m just the sympathetic head-nodder, the friendly face who “aww’s” at their story and wishes them well for the day. Today I was one of them. 

I found myself being even kinder and gentler with people, but also with myself. I wished people well but they wished me well back. We were in the same boat. The same rocking, sprung a leak, not going to make it on time boat.

I genuinely felt a profoundly positive impact on my humam interactions as a result of everything having gone “wrong.”

Like I said, I also got a bazillion compliments on my pulled-together-in-12-seconds-outfit (bizarre but appreciated nonetheless), and I even felt more at ease just knowing that my perfectionism is not the have-all-be-all.

Sometimes, the Universe just has alternate plans for us.

As I drove to work I thought to myself, maybe this happened to save me. Maybe the Universe intervened, in bigger ways than I can understand. Maybe, had I woken on time, I’d have been in a car accident on my way to yoga…or injured myself in class…or, or, or… 

I developed the mantra: Must Trust Must Trust Must Trust. I told myself what I always tell my clients and friends, alike. That it’s happening as it should. Butterfly effect type stuff. If it had happened at all differently, everything else would also have happened differently. So who are we to ever question how it all goes down?!

I consoled myself with the fact that, in ten years, I won’t remember this day. If I do remember it, it will be for the lessons I learned; the lessons you’ve just read about. I will continue to trust I will continue my mantra…must trust must trust must trust. I will continue to tell myself, my friends, my family and my clients what I truly believe to my very core…

When things don’t go “right,” trust that the Universe is divinely orchestrating them so that they’ll go better.

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