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Sowing the Seeds Of Self Empowerment

I was having a soulful conversation with a friend the other day about all the ‘self-work’ we do. It got me thinking about how much I’ve invested – both time and money – on personal growth. Learning, evolving, healing and changing. And on the flip side, sharing and teaching what I’ve learned. It’s been countless hours, thousands of dollars, a shit ton of books, quite a bit of counseling and a whole lot of tears. Like, a LOT of tears. It literally has been my life’s work. At least since the age of 24 or so.

I’m not sure why this has been my path. It surely has not been an easy one. It helps to believe that there is divine purpose in my life and to trust that no one else could walk this particular path other than me. That I am here for a reason although I may not know what that reason is.

Despite its difficulties and some lengthy battles with darkness, I don’t regret any of it. Lucky for me, I’ve been blessed to have the guidance of some of the most gifted teachers in the world. As far as I know, all of them have stood in the utmost of integrity with their work. Their goal has always been to foster my independence. To give me tools, tips, and techniques to restore my personal power. There are a great many teachers who do the very opposite. They steal personal power, albeit likely subconsciously. Their success is predicated on your need to keep returning to them time and time and time again.

It seems my teachers over the past 20 years or so have done their job well. I feel I am very well armed. So much so that I am going to cease any more advice seeking, healing sessions, wisdom offerings, trainings and deep dives into the cosmic realm for the next 30 days starting this weekend. I have an appointment with a Vedic Astrologer as well as a new moon ceremony to attend on Friday so my moratorium on all things seeking will have to begin after those. That’s over $300 in one day in the name of spiritual growth. See what I mean?

I know I will always be a seeker. I will never be content with the way things are. I will always strive to make myself a better person in service of making the world a better place. However, if I’m honest, a lot of my journey has been propelled by the thought that there was something wrong with me. That I somehow, some way, need to heal every broken and torn and tattered part of my body, mind and soul. Essentially the premise has been that I am broken.

What if I begin with another assumption? What if I assume there is absolutely nothing wrong with me? That I don’t need to ‘fix’ anything. That I don’t need to be healed. That everything simply is. What if I could rest in trust and acceptance?

I’ve sowed so many seeds in the past 20 years. Maybe it’s time to rest a bit and allow them to blossom. Let the knowledge and wisdom I’ve been blessed to receive stew in a soup of self empowerment. Trust that I have everything I need to move forward and thrive. I think my body and my bank account will thank me. Plus, it’s only 30 days or so.

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On Being Bulletproof

There’s a first for everything. The first kiss. The first time you had sex. The first job. Your first (and hopefully last) wedding.

This week, I was fired for the first time. Likely, the last. I’m simply not cut out for the day-in-day-out of a nine to five. Wear this. Show up now. Go home then. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t speak up. Don’t share your thoughts. Swallow it down down down like a bitter pill. I felt like a slave to someone else’s dream. Slowly, surely stifling every bit of my individuality and expression. It was a blessing. Not even in disguise. A flat out blessing.

For over two months, I’ve been working in a lab – a place that offers cutting edge technological advancements to improve your life. Whether you want to increase your physical prowess or it’s your brain you desire to upgrade, all of the equipment in Bulletproof Labs is designed to ‘biohack’ your biology. This petri dish of human improvement is the newest development in biohacking guru Dave Asprey’s cult like brand Bulletproof. I’m in awe of the genius behind the latest and greatest in performance advancements and have great respect for the mad scientists raising the bar on what it means to be healthy. But during the Bulletproof Conference a few weeks ago – a full on weekend dedicated to upgrading the human experience – it dawned on me – I don’t want to be Bulletproof.

I’ve worked my whole life building defenses, securing my fortress. I don’t need more armor. I don’t need more ways to be perfected. I don’t need more measurements – more tools to tell me how much body fat I do or don’t have or the phase angle of my cells.

What I need is more joy. I need more heart. I need more forgiveness. I need more ways to express myself. More yin for the yang in my life.

Bulletproof touts that it can make you “Superhuman”. Does the world need more superhumans? Or more human humans? Feeling humans. Caring humans. Kind humans. Forgiving humans.

The more we try to protect ourselves from the pitfalls of life, the harder the lessons will fall. It’s a futile battle. The challenges will still come. The hurt and the struggles – there is no way to become invincible against life’s pains. The danger is thinking you’re impervious to them. Your kryptonite will always find you.

Originally, I joined the team at Bulletproof in hopes of helping people connect to a deeper part of themselves. To remove the armor, shed the layers and get a glimpse of what was beneath all the muscle, tendons and bones of their human space suit. Ultimately, my purpose seemed to get lost in the attempt to gain control of my biology. In today’s Photoshopped, Instagramed, carefully curated social media culture, we attempt to shield ourselves against what it means to be imperfect, flawed humans.

I get it. In this day and age, it’s hard to feel. To be touched and moved. To be sensitive can be heartbreaking. But the more sensitive we become to each others’ pain, sorrow, disappointments, joy, and triumphs, the more we understand we are not alone in our own. I still believe the best biohack is a hug.

I enjoyed playing in the Lab, experimenting with my own body and psyche. There were some benefits that came with utilizing the technological hacks, notably the ones that have the ability to access the energy and causal bodies. (I’m now a big fan of cryotherapy, one perk of the job I will miss.)

But measuring and perfecting is my Achilles heel – it can send me into a spiral of criticism and negativity. I love the idea of Bulletproof and believe we should always be striving to evolve. (Full disclosure – I use a lot of the Bulletproof products myself! I trust they are of the highest quality.) But it’s the manner in which we do it – the message that shrouds the methodology. I know there is a place where science and spirit meet. I saw that at Bulletproof and I’m grateful to have seen the hard data that supports the path of science. Ultimately however, I find the softness of spirit feels more like home.

#metoo

I awoke in the middle of the night last night. My groggy body and weary eyes told me it was not yet time to be up. I opened my iPad to confirm that fact. 2 A.M. I was pissed. I had collapsed into bed a mere four hours prior, exhausted from a long day at work and an even longer two months of life. I hadn’t even been able to muster enough energy to wash the day off myself and shower. I barely could collect enough strength to bring my toothbrush to my mouth. So, given the opportunity to take deep rest, why the fuck was I up at 2 A.M.?

My mind immediately began examining what I ate earlier that night. Was there too much salt in the soup? What about that one bite of chocolate chip cookie? Or had I simply snacked too late? It seems I’ve been super sensitive to what I’m ingesting lately and I was determined to blame the culinary culprit.

As intrusive as the light from my iPad felt to my eyes, I attempted to distract my ruminating mind and lull myself back to sleep with a glance at the sludge of social media. About 5 minutes in it hit me. I am super sensitive to what I take in. And not just food. As I scrolled through story after story, post after post of ‘#metoo’ the pain began to well up in my heart until it could no longer contain itself. What awoke me in the middle of the night was not the cookie or the salt or any other crap food. What awoke me in the middle of the night was the poison we’ve been ingesting collectively for years. Decades. Possibly centuries.

I began to weep. Not only from my own pain and shame of the sexual assault I experienced – something I repressed for 22 years – but also for the generations of women and men devastated by a culture that continues to shove aside the Divine feminine in the name of advancement, progress and growth. In the name of money, power and status.

All actions bear fruit. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. It is the law of the Universe. It is called karma. What is being played out in our society is a result of all our behaviors. Not just of a few. Generations of it. Years and years of disregard for Her and the world which She created. The Goddess will be repressed no more. She is awakening. She is rising and she will do whatever is necessary to wake all of us up in order to restore the beautiful balance of Divine order. The masculine and feminine must dance in love once again.

This is painful for so many of us. Too many to ignore. But never forget we suffer at the hand of Her love. The tears must be shed, the blood must be borne. The past must be so painful we have no choice but to choose a different present. Sadly, it’s the only way we monkeys known as humans seem to learn. The sickness of society must become so prevalent that it touches and affects a majority of us. We must turn the tide as a united force. Only then will the collective consciousness gaze towards peace. Towards compassion. Towards respect. Towards reverence. Towards kindness. And towards love. And if it takes a million hashtags of ‘metoo’ and ‘imsorry’ and tears in the middle of the night – if it takes a mass devastation so that each and every individual feels the pain of our ways – so be it. Her will will be done. In some way. In some fashion. But never, ever doubt her love for us all.

I know what I’m about to say will seem more than challenging – it may seem I’m asking the impossible – but thank the Weinsteins and the Trumps and the Stephan Paddocks of the world. Their actions shine a light on the prevalence of suffering we are all enduring. Without which, we could easily continue to bury, shame and push down travesties and transgressions.

I am clear. When I weep, I heal. I change. When you weep, you heal. You change. When more of us weep, more of us heal. More of us change. As awful as it seems, it is an amazing time to be alive right now. Witness the magnitude of world events in awe and gratitude. Feel the ground shaking. We are in the middle of a revolution. Like many before us have fought for our freedoms from slavery and tyranny with guns and cannons, we too are fighting for our freedom. With tears and anger and hashtags.

We fight for our freedom to feel safe.

We fight for our freedom to smile.

We fight for our freedom to play.

We fight for our freedom to laugh and be joyful.

We fight for our freedom to love.

We fight for our freedom to embrace all in a new world order.

One that honors and celebrates the feminine in us all. She is the creator of all. And She will restore all. And so shall it be.

 

 

Is Enough Enough?

Last night I got sucked into the social media abyss of Instagram. For a half hour, maybe more (but who’s counting?) I poured over other abnormally beautiful girls’ photos who seemed to glow with fairy dust and poop golden gumdrops. Every photo seemed carefully crafted to display how amazing their life is while simultaneously assuring us that arriving to this place of effortless effervescence required diligent effort and struggle. This life of rainbows and butterflies and God damn grace. And there I sat – greasy hair pulled up in an anything but beautiful bun bouncing on the top of my head. I resembled something more of a paleolithic cartoon character than a modern have-it-all woman of Instagram. I was pissed that I couldn’t get paid for simply striking a pretty yoga pose. Annoyed that I always seemed to work my ass off for peanuts relatively speaking. I astonished over one golden girl in particular. Videos of her seamlessly transitioning from a forward fold to a pose with one one foot extended BEHIND HER FUCKING HEAD and the other extending straight out in front of her. Like one of the shapes I used to create with silly putty when I was little. It’s taken me eight years to get my head anywhere near my shins and THIS is the new standard for yoga? Fuck. I’ll never win. I realized that’s always been my mantra. I will not deny my successes or that I’ve had some incredible experiences in life. But it’s not enough. I’m not enough. I’ve always come really darn close to enough. And Lord knows, I’ve fought and worked my ass off for close to enough. But I could never quite get to enough. I always seemed to land just short of enough. Just shy of top of my class. Just short of a 4.0. A few spots below #1. A few pounds short of thin enough. A couple highlights less than blonde enough. A zero or two away from wealthy enough. I’ve hovered more in the ‘above average’ range. Better than many – not quite the best. I notice, as much work as I’ve done to be above comparison, it’s not much different. I’m still trying to prove I’m smart enough. Pretty enough. Flexible enough. Enlightened enough.
I can’t do this anymore. Who am I trying to prove myself to? My boss? My colleagues? My family? Myself? God? Sometimes, I wish I were just a total fuck up. Then the bar would be set kind of low. But it seems like someone’s always inching my bar a little higher. Just when I think I’m almost there, there she is – Ms. Golden Yogini striking a handstand on the beach in a bikini drinking green juice and smiling – nudging the bar a little higher. And me struggling and straining to fulfill my potential. To get a bit ahead. One step forward. Three steps back. I’m exhausted chasing enough, trying to keep up with her. When will enough be enough?

An Apology

In my limited world of social media (let’s face it – we’re really only friends with those people that think exactly the same as we do), a recent post on the ridiculous eating habits of health and lifestyle ‘guru’ Amanda Chantal Bacon, owner of the exclusive high brow brand, Moonjuice, sent my Facebook like reputation off the charts. While I stand by my position that her daily routine is reserved exclusively for those with boatloads of money and too much time on their hands, as the snide comments kept coming, I wondered why I felt the need to ignite such vitriol. Admittedly, my ego enjoyed seeing my social media status soar. Yet, I do not consider it my finest moment.

Which begs the question: are we only ‘liked’ or ‘loved’ when we ridicule others or offer inciting commentary that disconnects us further? I’ve noticed when I have something meaningful to say (from my perspective) or try to promote offerings on meditation or insightful teachings, my social media stats are not nearly as impressive. Why is it that our most applauded posts are the ones that encourage us to divide? Despite Facebook’s claim that it brings us closer in community, does social media reduce us to our lowest common denominator and at its core, make us a more shallow and divisive society? I argue yes. Yes it does.

There’s very little ‘listening’ happening on social media. How can we listen when words aren’t actually spoken? We can’t hear intonation, cadence or emotion through the pecks of a keyboard. There’s a lot of reacting back and forth as we tend to, as the old ones used to say, fire off at the mouth. There’s a lot of opinion flying around. And remember, opinions are like assholes – everybody has one. Apologies for the crudeness, but it’s a very appropriate turn of phrase in this case.

Thoughtful dialogue and debate seems to have flown the coop. No matter how insidious the rhetoric becomes, slaying swords is not the answer. Yet, social media is not really the breeding ground for thoughtful conversation. I myself don’t take social media too seriously. Admittedly, I often am flippant in my posts. It is not where I offer my highest intellectual offerings or insightful ponderings. Yet, it’s where most of us are spending our time. What does that say about our culture (myself included)? Should we shift? Can we shift? Or is it a beast that will continue to drive our daily patterns and habits? An addiction gone terribly awry?

I don’t have the answer but I think it’s worth asking the questions. At the very least, we can be more aware and conscious how we utilize social media. I can’t promise I’ll never write a snide or insensitive comment on social media or be an exemplary embodiment of peace, love and unicorns. I will however, do my best to rise above the social media sludge that seems to be dragging society down. And it starts with an apology to Ms. Bacon. Yes, I have an opinion and it hasn’t changed. I still find your daily health habits ridiculously unattainable for the average (even the above average) woman and concur with the NY Times  pegging you as a lifestyle guru selling self absorption. But I bet I’d like you and be able to tell that to you to your face.

Broccoli And Strawberries

Walking through my neighborhood farmer’s market today, I found myself wishing for another life. A life that looked more like what I envisioned for myself when I was in my twenties. Yes, I do live in the greater metropolitan area known as Los Angeles. However I ended up landing in a home in one of the most idyllic neighborhoods known to man – The Pacific Palisades. Imagine Wisteria Lane, only more picturesque. Beautiful homes, perfectly manicured lawns with fragrant flowers, surrounded by the mountains of Temescal and Topanga Canyons, and ocean views. A neighborhood filled with children and families and large bank accounts. A reminder of everything I don’t have.

I didn’t roam around that Farmer’s Market with people like me – older, single creative types that have dedicated their lives to pursue passions and truth. I’m not saying the lady next to me perusing bunches of broccoli and strawberries hasn’t done some soul searching, but it’s unlikely if you’ve got a family to care for and what I can only assume are high bills to pay, you’re not taking weeks off to travel to India, live in ashrams or sit and type out pages of emotional analytics. No, there’s no time for that shit. A large part of me envies that. I sometimes wish I didn’t have so much freedom to do whatever the hell I want.

I found myself down on the Pali High School track, watching young, tan, fit men chuck a Frisbee around. I longed for the days of my youth. To turn back the clock and maybe choose a different path. Make different choices. As I made my laps around the field, I knew in my heart, I didn’t have that choice. My destiny has already been written out for me. It is my duty to follow it. I wept anyway. Especially at the sight of a Father running, racing his little girl. Something in my heart broke. It was a deep longing for a family that I may never have. The grief over a loss of something I didn’t even know I could even want. The desire for a ‘normal’ life.

I’m not naïve in thinking these people live in perfection. I know all life comes with struggle, conflict, sacrifice and loss. And I’m sure plenty of them wish they were in my shoes from time to time. But for the time being, and maybe just today, I wish I were in theirs.

Old Friends

There’s something about connecting with old friends with whom you share common history – like high school, or college – no matter how close you were or weren’t at the time. There is a familiar backdrop or shared experience that others who weren’t a part of will be hard pressed to relate.

Recently, I’ve had the good fortune to spend some time with girlfriends from both high school and college. As I’ve processed some traumatic events of my past over the last month, these connections and friendships have supported me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

These women knew me before I even knew what yoga was. Before the challenges of adulthood and the big decisions that have shaped who I am since the day I turned 22. Before the turmoil of depression and the highs and lows of my career. They may not know every detail of the past 20 plus years, and somehow it hasn’t mattered. There is an openness that has been automatic. A vulnerability that is easy with women you don’t have to explain yourself to. Those who know exactly what it was like to fumble through life against the same backdrop you did.

While I love my ‘new’ friends, no one will ever quite understand what it was like to grow up in Clarks Summit, PA like my three best friends from high school. We spent an entire weekend in NYC, reminiscing about inappropriate songs we sang (if you don’t know it, Google Rodeo Song and you’ll see exactly what I mean) and boys and getting caught sneaking out of the house. But we spent more time sharing our feelings about our parents getting older, our individual losses – some bigger than others – and what has broken, and mended, our hearts. We also discussed buying a big piece of land somewhere while two of them finish raising their kids and the other two of us sans children tend to things such as gardening, composting, cooking and teaching yoga. Somehow, the 25 years since graduation has changed us, but in other ways – the ones that count – not so much.

No one who hasn’t gone to the small liberal arts University in the middle of nowhere Virginia will ever understand what it was like for a woman at an institution that upheld male superiority and preference at all costs. The damage that was done. How much emotional and somatic trauma that was incurred. How utterly fucked up it was. My friend and I tried to describe it in a way that wasn’t so primitive. Neither of us could. Odd for an institution that prides itself on high education, tradition and exceptional moral values.

I hadn’t seen my friend from college in over 20 years, yet somehow I was completely comfortable sharing some of my darkest secrets with her. There was no hesitation. I knew she would understand. I knew I wouldn’t have to explain things that I couldn’t quite put in words. I knew she would empathize. She did. With one conversation, I was relieved of a heavy burden of the past.

Yes, I truly love the friends I’ve made since I’ve committed to walking a spiritual path. We share a common language. It’s easy to talk about how hard it is to pursue a conscious and awake life. But the cool thing is, my friends from way back when support and love me, unconditionally, even if they don’t understand the language I speak. Turns out, they’re on their own quest of evolvement and growth even if the dialect is different. Turns out – we’re all spirits just doing the best we can being as humans.

To those of you (you know who you are and just in case you don’t I’ve tagged you on social media) who have supported and loved me as I heal from some life changing events, this one’s for you:

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

A circle is round,
it has no end.
That’s how long,
I will be your friend.

A fire burns bright,
it warms the heart.
We’ve been friends,
from the very start.

You have one hand,
I have the other.
Put them together,
We have each other.

Silver is precious,
Gold is too.
I am precious,
and so are you.

You help me,
and I’ll help you
and together
we will see it through.

The sky is blue
The Earth is green
I can help
to keep it clean

Across the land
Across the sea
Friends forever
We will always be

I am forever grateful for you.

My Favorite Place

After most people have turned down the lights and climbed into bed – this is my favorite time to take a walk to the beach. Long after the sun sets and the tourists have gone home, the sand and saltwater become my home again. Just me, the sea and the moon. This night, the clouds are thick enough to dim its normally brilliant light making it extra daring to tread out on the rocks that jut into the water. Even though PCH is still fairly busy, I hear nothing of cars or engines or annoying joy riding motorcycles or city busses. All I hear is waves crashing loudly – one of my favorite sounds in the whole world. To my left, I can see the lights from the ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier. To my right, a flashing color strobe light from a rager at a swanky home in Malibu. But directly in front of me, only dark dark steely grey (not quite black) gently covered by a layer of smoky fog. Until a white splash bursts forward when the water crashes into the jetty.  All I smell is sweet salt water. One of my favorite scents in life. This is magic.

Within minutes the waves crash closer beneath the rocks where I sit making it more and more plausible that I’ll get soaked as the seconds go by. I think of walking in. I do. But in this moment it seems sitting above the waves is enough to benefit from their cleansing strokes. Every crash shatters my illusions and every lapse back to sea washes away the residual debris. The purifying truth telling sea. Yes, in its vast darkness, it’s my favorite place to be.

This is the only noise I ever want to hear again. I want to stay here forever. I dread turning my back on all of this dark mystery to walk up the long hill home. It feels like one of those magical dates that starts in the afternoon and lingers unexpectedly  – along with kisses and gentle touches – into the depths of night. One you never want to end. But eventually, it does.

Even though I’m back on concrete, tolerating the occasional vehicle riding by, just as I’m ascending my ears take in something different. Frogs – tenors, bass, altos and sopranos – all contributing their unique CROAKS to the symphony of nature. It was as if I was sitting front row of a raging frog concert. Until a vehicle races by and, as if the frogs detect an intruder into their private concert, fall silent.

I continue my climb home, knowing the night and I share some very private moments. Thoughts that are never to be discussed, words that only we exchange, dreams only She will know. In Her darkness, my secrets will always be safe.

Am I Bi-Polar?

Lately, I’ve been struggling with who I want to be – how I want to represent myself in this world. Sometimes I am the ethereal yogi who floats like a nymph through life. Effortlessly wearing flowers in her hair. Speaking of love and Goddesses as if they were my dear friends who I invite over for tea. Or am I the wild, strong, fuck all, sometimes crazy woman who dances on poles and takes shots of tequila? The woman who is perfectly happy being thrown up against a wall and possibly gagged. Can I be both? Somewhere in between? Is there a happy medium to be found? A fairy – slut sliding scale? Or do I swing from persona to persona like a monkey in the jungle? I suppose the point is to be comfortable inhabiting qualities of both extremes and embracing and celebrating it all. This is tantra. No good. No bad. Not even ugly. All Divine. Intellectually, I understand this. However, most times, it simply makes me feel bi-polar. Like a box of Cracker Jacks. You never know what sweet surprise awaits you at the bottom.

One day I feel demure, subdued and offer simple, quiet, knowing smiles to people. I nod Namaste. This woman wears flowy skirts and mala beads and loves lace and pink and is perfectly willing to let a man support her. After all, her greatest gift is simply to be, allowing her presence to light up everyone she meets. Her favorite word is love. And she floats instead of walks. She longs to live off the land, simply, communing with nature. She smells like essential oils and thrives off green juice and acai bowls.

The next day, I wake up with a different woman altogether. This woman wears red lipstick and eats burgers and dark chocolate and drinks wine and beer. She doesn’t give a shit how much she weighs. She has the urge to writhe and twist wildly and sway her hips in a way that would embarrass most people. She wants a man who will challenge her, be smarter than she is and not put up with her shit. She is strong, but he is stronger. She is fierce, unapologetic, and most times politically incorrect. This woman says fuck a lot and likes to scream and thrash about. She loves power and desires diamonds and a beautiful home. She is not satisfied simply being. She needs to do.

These are two examples. There are at least ten other women waiting in the wings. How easily I fluctuate between all of them scares me. It leads me to believe I’m more than just a little crazy. It also makes it very challenging to create a consistent marketing strategy and it’s why I’ve been struggling to create a new brand for myself. I have no idea who I am most days. Maybe my brand should be Bat Shit Bi-Polar. Or plain old Totally Fucked Up.

I suppose the perfect partner for me would be a man who really doesn’t know what he wants in a woman. With me, he can sample just about every type out there.

Quite frankly, it’s exhausting trying to respond to the needs of a different woman every day. Life would certainly be easier if I could pick just one. Play one role. I would likely have a more consistent career. I’d complete hundreds of projects I’ve conceived over the past fifteen years. It would even make grocery shopping easier. It’s hard when one woman wants mac and cheese and diet soda and the other craves more fiber and greens, sometimes at the same time. Thus, I make daily trips to the store depending on who shows up for meals.

I’m not sure what to do – if anything – to seal the fissures of my shattered personality. Maybe I’ll continue to vacillate until I settle somewhere along the continuum. I’ll delicately dance between each woman with as much grace, grit and authenticity as I can muster on any given day. It certainly keeps life interesting.

There are a few things all of my women have in common.

They want to love and be loved so bad it hurts.
They want to care too much.
They want to feel to the depths of their being.
And every single last one of them wants to be seen.

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