Thursday, May 30, 2013

When you're thinking yourself stuck: feel.

My sweet cat-housemate, Tunafish, who was weeping from the balcony, thinking herself stuck, forgetting completely about the easier way down and out through the house.

Sometimes, I just need to be held. I mean, really really held. Do you know the feeling? It’s actually a hard one for me to know, pinpoint, because usually the Lion of Logic takes over before I get the chance to feel it. Welp, that’s just not possible right now, so don’t waste your time dwelling on it. Move on, darling. Go do something, or take a nap.

But today, I texted the person I’ve been dating who’s in a faraway state and meekly asked, “Can you talk? I need to break a pattern.”

It was actually a few patterns: always being the helper (not the helped), always having a solution (rather than just a feeling), and when neither of those normal roles are possible, simply shutting down. 

When we got on the phone the talking was more like snot-cry-yodeling, which is my real expression when I’m feeling vulnerable and honest. Through small weeps, I confessed how hard it is for me to soften into my feelings when I can’t fix them. When I don’t really like them. When they’re not what I want. “I’ve got this pattern of just toughening up,” I told her, “turning on my in-it-alone mode that I’ve gotten so used to, and moving on. But I don’t really want to do that any more, you know? I want to lean in…”

And then she said something really wonderful that I wanted to share with you here, in case you’re also having a feeling that has no rational solution at the time.

She said, “It’s like the world is set up for us to be rational, and rationally speaking, it makes sense to just go do something different, stuff the feeling down, move on, because you can’t really get what you need, so why dwell? But that’s not really what your feelings need. Your feelings need to feel.

My feelings need to feel. Our feelings need to feel. It’s so obvious, and yet, so unpracticed.

“Right,” I said… “I could’ve walked these bottled up feelings to a museum, carried them with me on my hike… but then they’re like a poison I’m lugging around with me wherever I go.”

“Yeah. Or you could just cry now and let ‘em free.”

It’s been a journey for me out here in New Mexico. I’ve worked with some seriously incredible healers who’ve helped unearth parts of me that have been locked up for far too long. I’m breaking lifelong patterns and it’s not comfortable, takes so much courage and breathing and vulnerable requests for love and care as I go through this process.

But really listening to my feelings, asking them what I can do to let them come forward, is softening me, actually making this deep process lighter. I can feel that basic, humble love that lives at the bottom. And I’m starting to trust that it’s okay, sane, wise to listen deeply and follow earnestly my wild flow of emotion.

Today, I want to know, what's that feeling for you that you think "unfixable" or "irrational"... that you stuff down and don't let yourself have? Be brave and leave it in the comments. You can leave just one word, one phrase. But doing so is the beginning to letting your inner self know that you acknowledge it, that you won't ignore it forever, that something alive in you wants all of you to be free.

I want that for you, too. For all of us. For all of us to feel freely.

All my love,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

God, What would you have me say?

This is what my new friend Jenny asks each time she sits down to write.

My palms sweat even writing that question. Who am I to speak of God? To invoke it into my writing, transparently, for you to know and see and experience?

Which really just translates to, Who am I to soften? To be more vulnerable exposing who I've grown into? To be honest about my faith, in a world where having it makes me feel like a total freak?

Which REALLY just translates to, Is admitting faith safe? Will believing in something unexplainable by "modern science's" terms, make me less lovable or approved of or legitimate to you wonderful people out there?

And then there's this image of how I really look, how I really feel, when it comes to my relationship with the greatest mystery of all: quiet, calm, glad, deeply deeply rooted.

I call Jenny Earth Angel because meeting her changed my life. She asked me the first time we got together for coffee, Do you know that you have guardian angels? 

It reminded me of the time Darrell asked me, Do you know that you have a spirit song in you? That everything is connected to the Great Spirit, that everything is spiritual?

It reminded me of the time the soulcaller looked straight through my eyes and said, Do you know that this is your work? To do what I am doing?

Each time, my response was an immediate Yes. My insides know, know, know. But my outsides are a whole other story. They scurry at the thought of being perceived as illegitimate, flukey, irrational, new age bull shit. I don't exactly know how to talk about the messy journey of faith and freedom. God. The Universe. Spirit. Because as much as I hate to admit it, I'm used to talking to convince. Because I'm scared of what not convincing might mean. I'm scared of being called Wrong, of being burned at the stake for believing in and accessing the mysterious powers of the universe. I'm both afraid of being cut off from the power of God and of accessing it. Which is really just a translation to my own power. I'm still not all that comfortable with it.

But I've been practicing on the inside (a LOT). And hiding on the outside (a bit).

Until now. Until I'm starting to realize that "my power" isn't really about "me", it's about everything. It's about being tapped into the truth that asks us to come home to Love. It's about traveling home, and helping others who long to, do the same.

And so I just want to be out of the closet. Humbly, messily, earnestly. I just want you to know that when I show up to work with you, to love you, to support or honor or challenge or praise you, I do it with my whole being in a humble devotion of faith and trust. I believe in leaning into the rich mystery of life. That within every mystery is a difficult, liberating truth. And for now, that's how I experience what I'm calling God--as the truth at the center when I let myself feel it. Sometimes it's rational, sometimes it's hardly imaginable. But somehow, it's there. It's usually full of an immense immeasurable Love. Like a heartbeat in the center of existence--the pulse that holds everything together. How? What? Why? I cannot know, exactly, but I can say thank you--for its strength, its life force, its continual presence even when I forget the magic of it.

Sometimes, I don't want to say thank you because I can hardly feel the Love. And that's okay. Faith isn't all blue skies. Life isn't all blue skies. But having faith amidst the shit is a devotion I came to when I lost everything I thought I knew, when I could barely get out of bed for over a year, so emotionally and spiritually spent. It was a way of survival, and has become an invaluable compass for me, now.

So, God, What would you have me say?

Thank you, sweet people out there, for being here, for reading. I'm over here with my light on, in case you're seeking a safe space to reveal your faith, doubts, desires, truths.

And if you're looking for a place to begin, I offer you (oh so vulnerably!) this tiny prayer, good for anytime, any day, anywhere, anyhow....

Dear God,
Are you there? What have I forgotten to trust? What truth will help lead me home? Thank you, thank you, thank you.

All my deepest love,

PS--I feel the need to say that I was raised Jewish, but in a much more cultural than religious setting. I was never taught prayer, never talked to of "spirit" or "God", so for me, I don't carry much religious baggage with the word God (except that it couldn't possibly be valuable if I was never really introduced to it--which... ha! is definitely some baggage!). It's all sort of a wobbly invention for me, combined with general socializations. I say this mostly to be sensitive to all the ways different people relate to God, religion, spirituality. That what I'm really talking about is faith and trust... having a practice of finding your way home to the truths that sets you free.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I'm going to Circus Camp... Really. In a Very Destined Way.

I can't even believe I'm writing right now. In 48 hours I'll be on an airplane to Santa Fe, and the hours of things that have to happen before then are a bit unmentionable. But this always happens with me: I become a total zen monk when I'm on the right path. Zero goals. Only faith. And wild, incomputable accomplishments.

Okay. So anyway. I wanted to tell you the story of how this happened, because it's awesome. And it could happen for you, too, potentially. (Stop it--I'm serious). Okay.. here it is:

I was feeling stuck in a rut. Am I really going to keep going back and forth through this same routine over and over... forever? Then I went to Portland to celebrate my best friend's birthday. Maybe it was the five days of slightly altering baked goods, or the mystical spirit of the Oregon Coast, but either way, something was bursting within me... a physical energy... I really wanted to PLAY.

Well, I did enough cartwheels on the beach to find out that cartwheels on the beach wouldn't cut it. There was this voice... this strange, delightful, nagging, insatiable voice... that kept whispering to me, You want to go to circus camp! 

On my last morning in Portland, I was telling Jodi about my friend who'd gone to lots of AA meetings. Mood follows action, she had told me. Mood follows action, we kept telling ourselves, like a pump up jam for some nameless game waiting just around the bend.

Rach... When are you going to just do it? she asked, sunlight pouring through the car windshield. I've heard you talking about doing something along these lines for a year. I think it's time.

Shit, really? I said, a bit clueless of how obvious I'd made my desire.

Yes, she said sternly. Really.

Jodi's not usually one to offer up a stern stare. She was right and she knew it. And I knew it, too.

My reaction was a mix between fuuuuuckkkkk and yes yes yes yes yes yes YESSSS!!!

But like any normal, scared/excited human, I took the conversation in stride and went on my way. At the airport, I was looking up information for this uuber expensive leadership training I'd been thinking about doing through my coaching school. My whole body felt anxious. I even called my mom crying, confessing that I felt like a total bum because I'm not "getting anywhere" with my life and "I don't even really want to do this damn leadership program anyway!" but "I feel like I have to be successful or something" and "I'm only 26... do I really have to be SO grown UP?!" and "Is it a sin to give myself the gift of fun!?" (Our complaints are actually really powerfully illuminating, if we let them be).

And then my friend Maya showed up [nothing's random] randomly at the exact runway where I was waiting in flowing black drab like a witch meant to deliver my destiny.

I spilled all my blubbering beans. And then she asked simply, Well, what do you really want to do? 

I just want to go to circus camp! I wailed. 

Have you Googled it?


Look it up right now. 

So I did. I Googled "Adult Circus Camp" and the first thing to appear was WiseFool New Mexico. We read about their BUST program together and knew it was perfect for me. Empowerment through the circus arts. All women. 6 weeks. Inexpensive. Wild delight.

But... Am I really allowed to go do this thing... just... for fun?? 

Why the hell not? Maya asked. I was silent. Okay, how would you feel if you went to the leadership training and not the circus camp? 

Resentful that we're not doing cartwheels, I replied. And like a fake.

Yeah. Go join the circus, Rach. You've got your whole life to grow up. Or not. You gotta make yourself happy.

It was decided. I called my boss for my tutoring job from the airport to ask if I could leave a month early. She said yes.

Then... at my layover in Minneapolis I got a $500 flight voucher for being a flexible traveler. Flight to and from NM... covered!

THEN... I was calling around on Craigslist for a place to live. One woman gave me another random woman's number. That "random woman" is renting me her condo for $100/week when it's usually $1200/month. And I can use her "extra scooter"... for free.

And with zero publicity for my coaching business, within a week of deciding to go to circus camp, 3 new clients came to me through word-of-mouth.

The how followed my yes

It's like that Goethe quote...

That the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

And it all started with this crazy nagging voice that somehow, I couldn't ignore. (Or had stalled on for almost a year, until finally, I could feel the cosmic force saying, NOW).

Here I go, people. I couldn't be happier, more excited, more ass-wiggling-ready. I wish for myself raw raucous play. New friends. New edges.

And for you, I wish that a mystical whisper enters your mind. One you simply cannot ignore. One that you follow, that makes your jaw drop with serendipitous delight. Good luck. Let me know when it happens.

PS--Did I mention I'll be doing trapeze, aerial silks, stilt walking and acrobatics... none of which I've ever tried before. Ever. Here goes noooothin'! ;)
PPS--My coaching doors are still open while I'm in the land of enchantment. Come knocking if you feel called, loves. Mwah!

And if you're curious... look!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sacred Love: 12 Things at the Bottom of Everything**

For people who are treating themselves like shit, romantically. Or suffering from a major crisis of faith. Or both. And don't even realize it. *cough* my former self *cough*. Or anyone who knows that nothing matters more than love.

1. You have to know that you're sacred. If you want to be treated sacredly, if you want holy-fucking-yes experiences, if you're really honestly in it to win it: you cannot pretend that your body, feelings, desires, preferences, rhythms, health or happiness don't matter. THEY MATTER. Love is our gateway to the sacred. And all of your parts are meant to feel it. If you're not feeling sacred in your experience, it's not love.

2. You have to know that everything is sacred. The person you want to get something from. The person who took something from you, irrevocably. The honest-to-god terror you didn't want to go through. The person who's pissed at you for leaving. The loneliness, the desperation, the flailing. The quiet realization that changes everything. Nothing can be excluded from the fullness of the sacred. Bless your growing pains--expansiveness is surest the way to love. 

3. You have to really see and accept that everything material dies. You. Her. Him. The Us We Create That We Want To Last Forever. Nothing material lives forever. Nothing. In really seeing and accepting this, you're much faster, braver, ballsy-er for the things that excite your soul. You're also a whole lot more honest. You worry less, let go, go for it. And this is what we need--people brave enough to go for broke, because ultimately, nothing goes with you to the grave. There's no savings account or retirement plan for love. There's now, and how you choose to amaze yourself, or not.

4. You have to protect what you respect. Which means you have to figure out what you respect. Here are some recommendations: your body, your time, your heart, your quality of life, your inner-peace, you feminine expression, theirs, the thing you spent a lot of care building, the Earth. We're slowly waking up as a people, getting better at treating each other with respect. In the mean time, the best way to help the process is to say no (firmly) to anything that doesn't feel honoring or enlivening.

5. You have to figure out who you are and own it--LOVE IT. Let the haters hate. You can't blame someone for only loving the parts of you that you reveal. When you closet parts of yourself, you end up feeling victimized, misunderstood or isolated when those parts are neglected. It's unfair to the people trying to love you, and potentially very very dangerous. Sacred love reveals everything, does not waste its energy in hiding. 

6. You have to trust the unknown. You don't get to decide who's right for you or how long someone stays. You can't will meeting "the one". You can't push a cosmic connection into being. You will meet a lot of people who you love in one way or another, who are not meant to be your partner, in a long-term, traditional sense. If you stay open, you will let yourself experience that love and it will leave you feeling fuller, more alive and known. If you stay open, you will keep floating down the river until every single thing in you screams out, STOP. This is where I dock my being. This is who I want to rest and play and build and feast with. And even then, there is nothing certain but mystery and the moment's very real desire.

7. You have to expect heartbreak. Because everything breaks. Willing or not. But life and love are also constantly being born. Your heartbreak doesn't kill you, unless you want it to.

8. You have to practice suffering. Which is really just letting go. Because you cannot avoid it. Ever. And if you don't practice, when you're forced into it, you'll have no clue what to do with your unmeasurable desire to hold onto the impossible. (Which is fine. You'll learn. But practice helps). Bikram yoga's my favorite bootcamp for letting go. Discover yours. It will change your life.

9. You have to trust nature. That nothing stays dark forever. That winter is not infinite, nor summer. That you are meant to go through cycles of dark and light. That expecting anything else is highly irrational and very unhelpful.

10. You have to be a revolutionary. Look, we're in a culture of rape. No one likes it when I say it, but it's true. Material, emotional, psychological and physical assertions of power, from one or more people, onto another, without their consent, is happening EVERYWHERE. In the grocery store, the shopping mall, advertisements, classrooms, subtle conversational assumptions--and yes, our bedrooms. It's so pervasive that most of us are sleep-walking or dissociating because to really wake up is exhausting. You almost immediately need a nap just upon the thought of patriarchal degradation. So take one. And then wake up and experiment with your power and privilege (or lack of it). Because we are the only ones that will change the status quo. And the feminine divine is needed. Now. Start in the easiest place you can identify (bedroom, kitchen, workplace, body image). The payoff will be spiritually profound. Promise.

11. You have to stop trying to get somewhere. I know, I know...with all these "you have to's", if I were you I'd be thinking, This woman is giving me all these directions and now she's telling me to stop trying?! But it's important. Because wherever you are is where you need to be. Really. And when it's time for you to move, you will know it in your gut, your body, your heart, your psyche--exactly where and how.

12. You have to dream, especially when it hurts. This may seem contrary to #11, but it's not. It's been nearly a year since my ex-husband and I parted ways. In the darkest of hours, when I damn-near believed I'd be alone in a bed of sorrow forever, I wrote myself this little note on a paint-sample snatched from the hardware store. At the time, the words were near impossible to believe. But dreams don't come from rational places. They come from your hidden potential, and that potential is alive in the present. No scurrying on the hamster wheel to access it necessary.

**If you read this post thinking Fairy Language Does Not Compute, rest assured, this list is pretty talk for hard-earned, truly-learned realities. And the thing about those is this: it takes having them happen to know that they're real. Just like love. 

Is it possible to love others without first being loved? Is it possible to treat yourself as sacred, without first being shown radical appreciation? Is it possible to accept loss, without first experiencing the worst of it? I actually, honestly don't think so. But life is long. Everything is coming for you. Especially if you want it. This much, I believe with all the faith in me. Let the seeds be planted. It is enough.

As always, if you're longing for a sacred space for all your secret wantings to be held, permission to write to me personally. It's never too late or too soon to confess the radical truths of your unfettered, daring, timid, worthy heart.



For related writings, the brother post to this piece lives here: Welcoming the Wildness of Love: 25 Lessons from a Year-Long Adventure in Dating.