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.

pain

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“If you fight the pain, if you resist the contractions, you cause even more pain. I told them that labor is like life and life is like labor; sometimes the most painful experiences deliver the best things-new life, unexpected insight, the chance to stretch and grow. This was the greatest lesson I learned in my years of delivering babies: don’t strain against the pain; learn its purpose; work with it and the energy of the universe will assist you.” – Elizabeth Lesser from Marrow, A Love Story

I wrote this post for the Tampa Bay Mom’s Blog because it is hard to be a human being. And after devouring Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Love Warrior, I’ve been consumed with how we deal with pain (mostly the emotional and mental variety) both at home and as a society.

I am trying (and trust me, trying is the operative word here) to give my children space to feel whatever it is they are feeling and without attaching my judgment or hope to their words. My internal dialogue may look like…why is he crying about this, it is not such a big deal, oh no they all inherited my overly emotional gene. On the outside, however, I am reminding myself to breathe and bring my shoulders away from my ears. I am whispering to myself to just stay open. I am praying to Spirit, to the powers that be, to help me to not mess it all up.

My concern is that if we teach our kids that it is not okay to feel emotions (why are you you so upset about this?) and express themselves, (you’re fine, stop crying) I wonder if they will in turn keep things from us. Big things. Like questions they have about drugs and sex as they get older. Or the disappointments and worry they have at any age.

If I can’t handle their truth, where will they go with it? What will they do with it? Especially if their truth has pain wrapped up in it. Am I inadvertently teaching them it is better to numb their true emotions then feel and express them in order to make others feel better? In order to keep the peace? In order to spare me dealing with my pain?

I know my kids won’t tell me everything as they grow up and if they did well that would be even harder! But when they do, I don’t want them dealing with my unresolved pain. So I am trying (once again trying not always succeeding) to take care of my heart and soul and all of my emotional baggage. If we don’t deal with it, we pass it on to someone else to deal with.

I now know that pain is a great teacher. And distraction is okay and even necessary from time to time. But in order to grow, heal, and be free from all that binds us, we need to feel that which calls us, even if for a brief, scary and awkward moment.

If you want to read more…http://tampabay.citymomsblog.com/2016/10/11/pain-pain-go-away/

let’s be real

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A mother at my children’s school sent out a text the other day requesting help. In a moment of vulnerability, she asked the other mothers if they could take her kids for an afternoon during what was to be the busiest work week of her year.

We all responded that we were happy to help.

Then, on a different text, a friend wrote that she too was feeling overwhelmed and had cried to someone she didn’t know very well earlier in the day.

It must have been in the air because I too felt a kind of overwhelmed and had sent out a request. I was feeling a bit lonely, sad, and disconnected. I needed a plan in place to see some friends. I needed to laugh, eat, and relax. To not do anything or accomplish anything other than connection.

It felt freeing to take the initiative. To speak up. To say what I needed and not wait for an invitation. So much can shift when we articulate what we need. It sounds easy but why does it feel so hard?

For me, I fear seeming too needy, too selfish, too sensitive, too not put together. And what if I am all of those things? So what?

Life is overwhelming. And sometimes it’s not. But when it is, we can only focus on doing the next right thing. The thing that feels true.

Glennon Doyle Melton, author of The New York Times bestseller, Love Warrior, talked recently to Oprah about divulging her true feelings when another mother at a play date asked her how she liked being a stay at home mom. Glennon revealed that she felt like a dormant volcano, calm on the outside but boiling on the inside with hot lava that could erupt at anytime and kill everyone in the vicinity.  The other women in the playgroup looked back at her wide eyed and speechless. So she backtracked and told them how grateful and fulfilling it all was.

“Ok so we’re not doing this here”, she thought to herself. We’re not doing real here.

I think we have all been there before, spoken up and then felt completely humiliated. But the thing is, I think we are ready to stop backtracking. It feels to me, whether it is our age or the age we live in, that we are really ready for real.

When I received that first text from the mom at my kid’s school, I was like hell yes I will be there for you. I was also like thank you for being honest and vulnerable and for letting me know when the tides turn and they always do, that I can call you and be real too.

Yesterday, real looked like my baby sitting on the floor putting tampons (straight from the box in case you are totally freaked out) in her mouth. Real looked like an oven mitt set on fire on the stove while I attempted to make dinner. Real looked like me missing my mom and missing my friends who I hadn’t seen in awhile. Real looked like shit all over the floor. Real looked like a disastrous mess.

But we survived and I can kind of smile at it now and feel thankful that my house didn’t burn down and that my baby didn’t swallow a tampon. And that in this instant, my mother-in-law has the baby, the older kids are at school, there is a candle glowing next to me and I can breathe.

Too often we struggle alone. We silence ourselves. We don’t want to talk about what is going on, we don’t want to bring it into the light. Maybe we fear looking bad. Or we don’t want pity. We don’t want to burden anyone. Or we feel guilty complaining because it could be so much worse.

And it could be so much worse! We are so fortunate in so many ways. But it doesn’t mean that our personal struggles and sorrows aren’t real.

I am grateful to the courageous trailblazers out there like Glennon. And my friends. And all of those before us who took risks to be real and speak their truth. Because real is beautiful. We need real. We need real desperately. We need intimacy, tears, connection, courage and kindness too. We need collaboration not competition. We need truth. We need empathy. Not, poor you, but I hear you. Because you matter and how you feel is real. And real is beautiful.