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.

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what I’m up to

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Earlier this summer, I wrote my first post for the Tampa Bay Moms Blog called, Please Excuse My Appearance. In a nut shell it is about my inability to leave the house looking put together. I keep putting my clothes on inside out and then parading around like everything is normal. And since I wrote the post, I actually did it again. Maybe it is a sign. I have always been someone to wear my emotions on my sleeves, maybe my sleeves are just meant to be inside out with the stitching showing.

It is the same thing with selfies. I also find the word selfie really annoying. Whether alone or with a friend, I look like the biggest goofball! Pat Conroy wrote in the book Beach Music that one of his characters had the kind of beauty that didn’t photograph well. Whenever I see a photo of myself, I pretend this is the case.

Perfection is the antithesis of compassion they say. So I’m trying to be nice to myself by embracing it and finding humor in the absurdity of it all. If we are smiling then who cares if there are milk stains all over my shirt and a large seed in my front teeth?

If you missed the post, below is the link. I hope it makes you laugh!

Please Excuse My Appearance…

 

 

 

 

 

 

your personal Everest

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A while back I heard Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind mountain climber to summit Everest, speak on T.V. He said…

“When I am climbing – the scariest part is when I’m reaching out and I’m not exactly sure what I’m gonna find – I mean I’m hoping and praying and predicting I’m gonna find what I’m looking for.

He went on…

“I think sometimes the fear of reaching out into the unknown paralyzes people to the point where they decide not to reach out at all.”

“For me all of the greatest things that have ever come have come through me reaching out into the unknown.”

For me that looks like an honest blog post. It may be reaching out to someone in a text or email. Sometimes it is getting up and dancing when no one else is.

But whatever my personal Everest is at the moment, it is usually marked by my heart beating out of my chest while fiery heat rises to my face. It is an indication that this reaching out means something important to me.

When I was in middle school I chose not to audition for plays because I wasn’t “that good”. I thought to myself that miracles of miracles if I did get the part then I didn’t want the mean girls to make fun of me anyway. So I didn’t try out. Instead I sang and acted with my friends at home.

But that wasn’t enough. I missed out on challenging myself and experiencing something different with new people. I ignored my souls request which left me feeling stifled. And like every single human being, I had something to say, something to share. Something creative was stirring inside of me but it didn’t know where to go.

I didn’t reach out because I was scared of the outcome.

So now I am reaching out to you and wondering…

What does reaching out into the unknown mean to you? What are you not doing because you are scared of what you may or may not find?

What if you quit everything to try this one thing and you fail?

And maybe the most important question is…

“What’s worth doing even if I fail?”  Brene Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fierce with reality

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When we open up to our brokenness, we begin the path to wholeness. 

When I was younger, I used to hope that when I turned 20 and then 30 and now 50, that I would be free from getting so humiliated or feeling fearful or anxious. I thought I just needed to grow up.

I still get humiliated, fearful, and anxious. But what is different now is that while I don’t particular enjoy these strong feelings,  I am more okay with them because I see them as passing conditions. They are simply tools to work with. And they don’t define me.

Wholeness is not perfection. Wholeness is acceptance. It is simply a willingness to look at all of it…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

When we give voice to our brokenness, we in turn let light shine on and from these places.

And who knows how this light will change our lives and illuminate the hearts of others.

As Parker Palmer says, the way to God is down.

And when we are mindful of our pain, when we hear it and can identify it as sadness, anger, jealousy, grief, whatever it may be…we see our brokenness as something to understand and not necessarily fix. We change our relationship to it. It becomes something to work with and grow from.

It becomes a portal to awakening not a pathology to treat.

Barrie Davenport in her book, Peace of Mindfulness, writes, “Don’t add another layer of suffering by fretting over your suffering.”

There is nothing wrong with you. You are not perfect thank goodness! But you are beautiful in your brokenness. Because you are fierce with reality.

today trascendence

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“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” – Eckhart Tolle

Our anger, pain, and our sadness is fleeting. Our bad moods are fleeting. These emotional states often have such a grip on our hearts. But they are not who we are. We are the observer, the witness, the one that notices the rollercoaster of emotions.We are along for the ride.

These emotions, they come and go like a dense fog rolling into view and limiting our visibility only to later be burned off by the warming sun. And when the fog eventually lifts as it always does, a more sparkly, clearer, and truer sky is revealed.

Our souls are not fleeting. At the core of our beings, no matter what turmoil is going on around us, we are pure magnificence. Compassionate. Genuine. Loving. Light.

Even in death our light shines like a million shooting stars showering down on the earth blanketing those we love with a glowing embrace.

We are together in this. Our hearts, our souls at the deepest level are the same. We are one.

“In the end there are three things that matter. How well we’ve lived. How well we’ve loved. How well we’ve learned to let go.” – Jack Kornfield

We as human beings have this amazing capacity to be reborn at breakfast…everyday this is a new day, who will I be today? – Jack Kornfield

 

 

 

melodius

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There is Love in holding, and there is Love in letting go.”  –  Elizabeth Berg

“To see thee more clearly. Love thee more dearly. Follow thee more nearly, day by day.”  

This morning I woke to a sleeping house. What a rare and amazing gift! My husband was already awake and meditating so I decided to join him. Lord knows I need it.

We sat on the floor of our dusky bedroom while tiny dust particles mingled with the determined morning light. *We listened to the sweet subtle voice on my husband’s phone  as birds chirped along in the background. The gentle voice guided us to name our feelings.

Anger, anger, frustration, disappointment, anger, fear, sadness. And then…identify any sensations you are feeling and where you are feeling them...warm, warm, hot, hot, face, tight, stomach, throat, bubble, tight, tight, TIGHT!

By repeating the name of the sensation, the sensation itself starts to melt, losing its hold, losing its power and making room for more space. The sensation, neither good or bad, just is and often goes as quickly as it comes.

But first, it needs acknowledgement. Not judgement or understanding, just acknowledgement.

Then we soften because we allow. We feel it. Even if it stings and hurts.

Much like getting stuck in an undertow while swimming in the ocean, when we swim against the current, we lose our strength. But when we swim with the current, we find our breath and are able to let go and stay afloat.

We breathe. We flow. We keep going. We must keep going.

After my daughter left for camp today, I drove my son to his camp, and then took my baby girl to a coffeehouse I hadn’t been to in over a year. I went there yesterday too and then went back again today because it is just that warm and welcoming inside.

I felt comforted just by being there. Maybe even held. And as I was about to leave, I made a new friend.

She told me I was her hero when I said I had 3 kids. After telling me that she was a social worker with two kids who started her own business helping developmentally challenged adults and is also currently getting her Master of Arts in Psychology, I told her she was my hero! I could feel courage, confidence, and kindness emanating from her like the beaming sun.

Then we hugged. Twice.

Joy Joy Joy. Warmth. Grateful. Heart. Heart. Happy.

I’m not sure I would have had the space in my heart for joy, gratitude, and a new friend had I not allowed the anger and sadness the space to just be first.

We breathe. We flow. We keep going. We must keep going.

*We used the app for our phone Calm: Mediate and relax with guided mindfulness meditation for stress reduction at http://www.calm.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

special delivery

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The other day I got scolded by my mailman while walking with my baby and looking at my cell phone. “You are with her but you are not with her, leave that at home.” Who was he?  The Dalai Lama of the postal service? I was so annoyed. He should mind his own business for Pete’s sake! And so I huffed and puffed and almost blew my house down. The best part? I was researching mindfulness programs!

Earlier that day, I had been asked by a friend to teach a series on mindfulness meditation. My first reaction was YES. Then the barrage of thoughts like determined little leaf cutter ants came marching along screaming at me that I need more training and more experience in order to do this. I would certainly benefit from more training. But I have been down this path before and at what point is this train of thought really just an excuse to avoid putting myself out there? There is always another training and another certification or someone more adept at doing the job.

But I have learned from experience that often the missing piece is less about a lack of knowledge and more about a lack of confidence. So often what is really getting in our way is our ability to believe in ourselves and trust that we are enough.

We already possess that which we are meant to teach.

And they say that our most important teachers are the ones that push our buttons. The ones that reflect back to us what we most need to pay attention to. What was most annoying about my scolding from the mailman? He was right.