love yourself, be who you are

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How right my friend Charlotte was when she said, “I feel a blog post coming on”, the other morning as we walked by the water with the low tide and soft breeze. I was so excited, I saw a Roseatte Spoonbill, an unusual and spectacular sight at that particular spot. I inhabited an older version of myself…older Floridian woman, wrinkly and tan with a visor on shouting out the names of various birds to no one in particular…Tufted Tit Mouse! Cardinal! Scrub Jay! (Thanks Mom for inspiring me to learn my bird names). I like the idea of this older, wiser, even kookier me.

It seems to me that within us all lives our younger selves and older selves simultaneously. The 7-year-old me lives side by side with the 80-year-old me.

As the gorgeous pink bird with the vibrant red stripe and spoon for a beak ate her breakfast oblivious to the people admiring her unusual beauty, the white Herons and Seagulls next to her, did the same. They seemingly paid no attention to their neighbors’ more stunning outfit. I doubt they were thinking, “You guys, I totally like her colors better than mine.” They just ate together enjoying their fish. No big deal.

And it was no coincidence that the day before my fairy hummingbird tree nymph of a daughter sat next to me on the floor coloring. When I glanced over to see what she was writing, her poster board revealed words that made my heart soar, Love yourself, Be Who You are.

Love yourself, whether your self is your little self, your teenage self or your elder. Be who you are…sage advice from my little girl…because who you are is so brilliant no matter the color of your feathers.

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Deep breaths AND chocolate

I used to think it was all or nothing. If I taught yoga, then I must be very yogic at all times or else I was a fraud. So I best be eating organic chia seeds marinated in bone broth with kale chips and a green smoothie to wash it all down with. I thought to myself, I can’t be a calm, loving mother if I am also feeding my kids Cheetos and yelling at them to clean up the pile of shoes on the floor or their underwear on the coffee table. (We have a history in this family of undergarments being left in odd places – just last week my mother-in-law found a strapless bra in my husband’s car – I hate strapless bras and took it off as soon as I could after a recent event, fortunately it was mine and she thought it was funny).  The list goes on, I can’t be healthy and have dessert or teach others about meditation if I need medication to help with my anxiety. I can’t be sensitive and strong. I can’t be brave and scared. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

Oh yes I can.

I am so grateful to my new friend Charnell, who during a recent women’s circle, stressed the importance of the word, and. “You can wake up anxious and still cut up apples for your kids lunch”, she said. And while I have certainly thought of this, lived it in fact, I have never realized how glorious the word and really is.

And it is liberating. And is spaciousness. And is kind. And is acceptance. And is compassion. And is the antithesis of perfection. And is sincere. And is genuine.

This chasing happiness business is crazy making. Because it is impossible. So maybe we find meaning instead and stop worrying so much about finding this elusive perfect happiness. Like Vikor Frankl who survived the Holocaust teaches us in his beautiful book, Man’s Search for Meaning, we can survive hardship when we find meaning in our struggles.

As I prepare for facilitating a new women’s circle starting this weekend, I am swept up in gratitude for the bright and beautiful creature in my back yard. It is a cardinal and to me this sweet little bird signifies that my dad is near, telling me I’ve got this even though I am not sure I do. These days I don’t strive for perfection or even happiness, I strive for acceptance. And meaning. And unconditional love. And in addition to deep breaths, I need chocolate.

marching on

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” If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them.” – Gloria Steinem

So here is my truth. I encourage you all to share yours in whatever capacity suits you.

I hate being political. It makes me, in the words of my college days in Massachusetts, wicked uncomfortable.

When I was a teenager, my brother-in-law enjoyed asking me about my stance on such “hot button topics” like abortion. He grew up getting in heated discussions with his family, I did not. And I hated every minute of it. I did not possess the confidence or often the knowledge to back up how I felt.

What happened over time was in order to protect myself from feeling stupid and embarrassed, I started getting quieter and quieter. I never internally questioned my strongest convictions, but I didn’t want to discuss them out loud either. I hated being put on the spot so to speak. I would feel “too” emotional, “too sensitive” or maybe I took things “too” personally. Often, it felt antagonistic, almost as if I was being bullied.

I made the mistake of thinking that if I didn’t know everything about an issue being discussed, that maybe I wasn’t entitled to an opinion. But we are all entitled to an opinion. Our feelings are valid, our points of view, important, no matter how many articles we have read on a subject.

If it’s important to us, we’ve got to speak up even when we feel uncomfortable and have difficulty locating our voice.

As a child, I remember standing up to bullies. And it was hard. I hated every minute of that too. I would get red, my heart would pound but I did it anyway because every fiber of my being was screaming at me to do so.

I still despise confrontation and arguing. Even if it is a topic I am familiar with, I would rather not “get into it.”

So the other day when I posted something on my wall on Facebook about a college starting a program where professors read books about social justice issues to children, I was gobsmacked that my nephew took offense to it. Once again, I didn’t want to get into it but here I was.

Contrary to what some people say, we don’t have control over our thoughts and feelings. We do of course have control over what we do with them. My nephew, much younger and most likely smarter, is of course entitled to his opinions too. But I couldn’t help feeling misunderstood and confused. Certainly, he couldn’t disagree with the idea of exposing children to people and issues different than themselves, I thought. I responded to his comment which just furthered his fire and squelched mine.

Clearly, we weren’t going to see eye to eye on this. So I dropped it.

Once again, I told myself that it was okay to have differences in opinion.

And that it is okay to disagree.

However, it is not okay, in my book anyway, to do so in a disrespectful and bullish manner. Life is fragile. And while we argue, there are people battling vicious diseases and cleaning up tornado toppled houses.

So on Saturday, when I joined millions of people around the world, and marched in the women’s march in St. Pete, I hoped it would be peaceful and respectful. Unlike the protests the day before.

Part of me was exited to attend and part of me had my reservations.

I really wanted to spend a quiet Saturday at home with my family. I also felt fearful about being public about my political beliefs. (Lindsay, remember you are not good at this, I heard). I feared photos from the day leading to another spat on facebook. I feared being in a big crowd. I feared feeling stupid when someone mentioned a name of a newly appointed cabinet member I hadn’t heard of yet. I questioned my intention…I am all about love and peace, why do I need to do this? Maybe I could just stay home meditate and pray instead.

But the same me that stood up to the kid in high school who was always picking on the kid smaller and not as athletic or as good looking as he, said hell no. So my face hot, my heart beating hard, I went anyway. Going with a group of fabulous and supportive women helped too of course.

And this march was everything I hoped it would be. It was the antithesis of hate. It was peaceful. Hopeful. And loving. I felt like I was being carried in a sea of supportive, super humans who shared concerns for the planet and for each other. I spoke to an 81-year -old woman there with her husband who marched her whole life for causes like the civil rights movement and nuclear arms. She told me, “You can’t hug a child with nuclear arms.” I saw an older woman with a walker. I listened to a 12-year-old girl sing, “We Shall Overcome.” I saw a little boy wearing an anti bullying message around his neck. And lots of wonderful and brave men. It didn’t feel antagonistic or divisive, it felt humane and unifying. It was heartening.

So while some of us disagree with what is happening right now in our government, some of us are supportive of it.

And I want you to know, whomever you voted for, whatever you think of this current feminist movement, that I love you and I want to work with you no matter what. I will try my best to listen with an open heart to your opinion if done so in a kind way, if you promise to do the same.

Even the one vocal Trump supporter I saw at the march was kind. He held his Trump sign but he smiled and didn’t shout at us. And according to another account I heard on the news this morning, he even said, “Thank you ladies”, as we passed.

all we have to do

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Last night I had the privilege of meeting Glennon Doyle Melton, a woman I admire for her honesty, bravery, and inclusive messages of love. She has written a best selling book and raised millions of dollars for women and children worldwide, most recently in Aleppo.

When I met her, I felt foolish. Like a little girl waiting in line at Disney World to meet a princess. I told her this. I was also red faced and teary and desperate to say something witty so she would think I was cool. (Hello 7th grade self!) I gave her a hug. But she was a picture of grace and hugged me right back without the slightest bit of discomfort over my general goofiness.

After she spoke to the sold out crowd at a local synagogue in her warm and friendly manner, there was a brief Q and A. One woman stood up and said while she agreed with Glennon’s message encouraging women to connect and support one another, she questioned the actuality of this. She expressed frustration at the fact that no one waved to her and said hello on her way into the event and doubted anyone would on the way out. She had come by herself, didn’t know anyone there, and clearly felt a little jaded.

Glennon told her to share her email address. I wanted to stand up and say, “Did you wave to anyone?” The thing is I totally related to what she was saying. There have been so many times when I too have felt like the odd duck sitting in a yoga class where everyone is hugging and laughing or at a kids birthday party where I am convinced that every mom must be hanging out daily after school sipping lemonade and laughing for hours or at an event with my husband when I feel like a boring housewife. It has been so easy for me to claim, “I am different.” “People don’t get me” “I’m a fish out of water.”

Guess what? That is total bullshit. And it’s a cop out. And I’m sick of it. This is my stuff. Not yours. And if I want someone to include me, I better damn well include them. And if I don’t want to be judged then I better stop judging myself. (I don’t like that photo, I’m silly, yada yada yada).

And this is one of the sole reasons why I started facilitating women’s circles. Because I want to connect with other women in a meaningful and authentic way. I want not only to support other women but I want to feel supported to0. We offer the medicine we most need, right?

Life is hard, we’re not meant to do it alone.

And this is what is exciting to me right now.  I have been in dozens of conversations with other women lately who are saying the same thing. I believe it is one of the hidden blessings of our most recent election.

It is the message that Glennon spoke to and even the one in Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech last night at the Golden Globes.  It is our responsibility not just as women, but as human beings, to bring more love, empathy, and understanding to the world. When there is hate and violence, we can’t combat it with more of the same. Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

We don’t have the luxury of complacency and we can’t wait until we are more educated or more comfortable or we feel like we have our act together and our eyebrows waxed, we have to just show up and use our voices anyway. Now. And we have to do it together.

And maybe this is what it looks like. When one of us is grieving, we don’t try to make it better, we just listen with our full attention and allow the choice of when to get up off the floor to be that of the person who is on the floor.

We pray together to be shown where we are needed most.

We take care of ourselves, spiritually and emotionally; personally and collectively. We practice being vulnerable and showing our true colors so we can truly love ourselves and one another. Flaws, imperfections, addictions, and all the rest. Sometimes the truth is ugly and messy but it is the truth. And it’s what is needed for our freedom and our wholeness.

We make room for relationships that enliven us and less for those that deplete us.

We share our hearts in the face of self doubt, anger and fear. And even when jealousy rears its ugly head. Because we want to collaborate more and compete less. We know we will all have our turn. We believe in abundance not scarcity.

So we support each other.

And we continue to come together in the ways women have for a long time. When a baby is born, when a loved one dies. We make food. We comfort. We drink coffee or tea or wine together. We go for a walk or play bridge or talk on the phone. Maybe we just meet in downward dog and don’t even really talk but share knowing glances about the fact that neither one of us slept a wink last night because we were too busy worrying about how we are screwing up our kids.

We are sick of the bullshit…the cat fights on the Desperate Housewives “reality” shows (yet I have been watching the Ladies of London…eek this has to stop!) But this is not who we are. And when we meet soul to soul, we can do great things, we can move mountains. And so we do.

We have watched and shared the Madonna video on social media because we too are all so sick of sexism and ageism and all of that other crap birthed from insecurity and misunderstanding. We are getting incredibly sick too of judging each other about the clothes we wear and the decisions we make to stay at home to raise our children or continue our careers or make new ones or to never have children in the first place.

As Dr. Cristian Northrup says, we have the capacity as women to nourish. We create human beings. And this doesn’t just end when our children are born. Or if we didn’t have children.

We can nourish each other. We can meet and organize and share ideas. I’ll do the part I am good at and you do the part you are good at. We know we are a team and couldn’t survive without the other.

We are blogging and writing and sharing our truths because we know it is essential to our survival. There have been so many before us that have taught us the way. And now here we are. …”the ones we have been waiting for.” – Alice Walker

We have experienced great sadness, many losses, fear and worry. We are trying to be the best we can be.

So we witness the turmoil, the chaos, and the sadness.

And we witness the rising too…the Phoenix spreading its wings, the firebird getting ready to soar with more power and more strength than she knew she had.

It is waking us up. It is waking us all up. Most of what happens is out of our control.

But still…

We can and will do something. Even if something doesn’t feel like enough. We are done with not enough. We wake up, we do something and we choose Love over and over and over again. We stop blaming the other and we take our power back. In the words of sweet sister, Glennon, “All we have to do is stop being afraid of each other.”

And we say hello.

Rasta Cowboy Unicorn

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When I was home for the holidays, I found a letter I had written to my mom. I was 15 and at an overnight retreat with a group of kids from different high schools in the area. The letter was an apol0gy for an argument I don’t remember having. Seems I was a pain in the ass and then felt really bad about it. Not uncommon in those years. (And regretfully, maybe something that happens on occasion now).  But the sentence that stood out most for me was this one, “It is so nice to be here with people who have open hearts and minds and walk around with their masks off.”

I read it out loud to my husband and we both laughed at how it sounded like something I very well could have written in my journal five minutes ago.

Seems as if I have been craving this my whole life.

And it made me think about what I can do or be to keep this yearning alive. How can I bring openness and realness into my life and my relationships with others?

When we were out to dinner for my husbands birthday the day before New Year’s Eve, we were discussing our word for the new year. We also committed to doing one little practice every day for one month. Something the author Lois Hay writes about and Dr. Christiane Northrup talks to Oprah about and that is looking at the mirror every day and saying I love you. It may sound funny but once you do it, it impacts the way you treat yourself and others.

Because when you look at yourself in the mirror with your tired eyes and messy hair and imperfect skin and increasing wrinkles and all the mistakes you’ve made and you love yourself anyway, it helps you to love everyone else out there in the world with all of their imperfections too. Maybe you don’t see their pain in the assness as much. Maybe you see their souls peeking through more.

And more importantly than a word, resolution or goal, what is the energy you want to emit? What is it that you craved as a child that still stands true for you today? How can you bring more of this energy out into our world?

With the help of my son who is really interested in Reggae and Rastafarianism at the moment, to my daughter who declared that 2017 was to be the year of the cowboy, to a game on Facebook that my friend Jules shared, I have decided the energy I choose to bring forth this year is that of the one loving, ass kicking, rainbow making, magical, mystical, Rasta Cowboy Unicorn. Yee Haw and One Love amigos!

the most wonderful present

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Gifts are great. I am not going to lie, I love receiving them, opening them and giving them. Last week sitting next to my mom and mom – in – law while watching Barbara Streisand perform, I felt like one of the luckiest people in the world. Because last year at this time, my mom had just been diagnosed with cancer again. Here we were, a year later, her hair growing back, a smile on our faces, hanging with Babs.

A big sigh of gratitude.

I think I want to stop trying so hard to heal that which I feel needs healing. Focus on the good, what I dream and know is possible. I want to take a break and pause, accept, and appreciate what is. Much of what is is hard to accept. But there is so much beauty, so much to still smile about.

Below is the link to the post I wrote for the moms blog on being present. Check it out if you wish.

But more importantly, please know your being – however imperfect or messy it feels right now – is exactly what your family and the world needs. Your soul, your true self is the most wonderful present you could ever give. Don’t worry about changing. In the words of Elizabeth Lesser, “uncover your soul”. Because your soul it is perfect, absolutely perfect!

Wishing you and yours many blessings and loads of love this holiday season and in 2017!

http://tampabay.citymomsblog.com/2016/12/09/opening-up-our-present-final/

together

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My last post was about surrender. And this one is too. I haven’t gotten very far. Or maybe I have. Maybe this is where I need to stay. It is no surprise that the collective psyche is unhinged. There is a lot of uncertainty.

But there always is. Things often don’t go the way we think they are going to or should.

I am choosing to believe that I am not meant to know or understand why things happen the way they do. That not knowing is okay and that there is a force, a benevolent one, greater than me out there in the world. 

And then I wonder, can I reject things the way they are because it is not what I want and still move toward progress? Or do we need to accept things fully in order to move through, move on, and forgive?  Can I feel anger and love at the same time? Hope and anxiety? Acceptance and disbelief?

I am choosing to believe that one of the most courageous things we can do is be brave in the face of anxiety and uncertainty. And just show up as our whole big loving and imperfect messy selves.

No more putting on a “game face.” Speaking of game face, yesterday, in fact, my face was adorned in blue marker. Because I allowed my children to draw all over it. That’s right. And then I forgot, totally forgot that I had a bridal shower to attend. So I showed up anyway, late and embarrassed with the remnants of a blue F on my forehead and the word Dad smeared on my cheek. But at least I was there.  God, help me.

I have realized the last few days that we are all trying to do what we think is best for ourselves, our families, our communities and our country.

And our bests differ.

And that is okay.

I am angry that 43% of the people who could vote in this election didn’t. But I am thankful that we live in a country where we can speak up and share our voices and not be jailed or beheaded for doing so.

I feel like I am swimming in one giant paradox pool.

I don’t want to be angry. But I am about certain things. Maybe I can use it as fuel and motivation. Because it just seems to me that it is good to feel the anger and then be constructive with it and not stew in it for long. Let it out for Pete’s sake. I think that is what has been happening. Like everyone is just throwing up anger all over social media. Sometimes it may feel like it makes things worse. More separate. Less harmonious.

But then again honesty is important.

I don’t want to be divisive.

I want to be respectful. And kind.

So I am choosing to believe that fear and anxiety can coexist with love and hope. We gotta keep marching toward the greatest good.

I don’t want to take things for granted. I also don’t want to make light of the fact that there is suffering. Unfortunately, there always is.

We still need to laugh, however, and tell ridiculous jokes and be silly in the midst of it.

Because I believe lightness holds us. Levity lifts us. It is okay to take a break from being serious. I believe we can do both…be caring and concerned and laugh at the movie “Bad Moms” all at the same time.

Where do we go from here? I think of Martin Luther King. Of Nelson Mandela. Gandhi. Eli Wiesel. Viktor Frankl. Anne Frank. Malala. Madonna Badger. Those on the Standing Rock Reservation fighting for what they believe in.

And all of the people that aren’t famous but put their hearts where their mouths are. That do something to bring more love, more understanding and less hate into the world. Despite how very hard this sometimes is.

This is you. You do this. It may be volunteering at your child’s school to help a student learn how to read. Maybe it is taking the time to let someone cross the street with kindness in your expression. Maybe it is as simple as forgiving someone when they spaced a date important to you. Oy vey!

But so much that hurts is healed when we reach out and connect with one another. When we dig deep. When we share what we are scared to share, what makes us feel less perfect, and maybe even unlovable.

All I know is my connections with friends and family are keeping me grounded these days. I cannot do it alone.

So is nature because no matter what is going on in our human world, nature is happening all around us. We are part of this. And the surreal, cobalt blue colored skies have been so incredibly beautiful.

And the moon tomorrow is a Supermoon! It is also called the Beaver moon. And well I am excited about this.

Movement…like dance and exercise and singing and sharing our voices  – this is life saving.

Last weekend, my family and I painted a fence for a local non profit and it felt so healing to keep my hands and mind busy while doing something nice for someone else. This is essential at the moment. To keep moving in the direction of union and generosity.

So does getting back to the basics and taking really good care of ourselves. And this includes being discerning as to what we want to receive and how we want to contribute.

To feed fear or promote peace.

I am choosing to believe there is so much more good in this world. And so much to be thankful for. And I haven’t felt optimistic every moment of every day this week. On the contrary.

But I want to stay hopeful. No need to bypass anything we are feeling. We notice, pay attention, and breathe.

Together.