Have you ever driven head first into a relationship you knew would ultimately hurt you? Why do we do this? Do we think somewhere along the way we’ll be able to alter the outcome? Is the draw to certain people too intense to resist? Maybe karma is so keen that she renders you helpless so you can work your shit through with some people. It’s like a car wreck – you can’t seem to pull yourself away no matter how much you want to.
Maybe there’s something inside saying “NO” but you’re desire to feel good – to have companionship, joy, sex – that desire overrides any logic you may have left.
Or maybe it’s hope. Hope that this time – this guy – will be different. This guy won’t abandon you after sleeping with you. Not this guy. This guy had done his WORK. This guy is older. This guy is a MAN. This guy is honest. Upfront. Trustworthy.
Or at least he makes you believe he’s all those things.
So you give it over. Your body. Your heart. Your passion. Your care. Your vulnerability. Your trust.
And then you realize this guy is no different than most guys you’ve been with. This guy turns away. This guy leaves.
And you do your best to convince yourself it’s not you. You’re not broken. There’s not some faulty part. But out of all the guys, there’s only one common denominator – YOU.
You’re aware of your patterns and what you attract. But you really thought this guy was different and that you’d FINALLY started to change. To heal those old wounds.
But the wounds are still there. And nothing has changed. And you feel stuck. Hopeless. Like maybe it’s going to be this way forever.
Because this guy wasn’t different. You are left with your hope and your heart in your hand. And all you really want to do is share it with someone. Someone who will say “Here. Let me hold that and take care of that the way you take care of it.” Not drop it on the floor like a banana peel.
And you cry. Not so much for this guy. You barely knew this guy. You cry because you’re tired of doing the work. Tired of being lonely. Tired of waiting for THAT guy.
Listen for the NO. No matter how enchanting and persuasive and magnetic and amazing that YES feels. LISTEN TO THE NO.
Recently, I touted an article on Facebook from a hot young author named Jessica Knoll (author of the best selling book “Luckiest Girl Alive“) who wrote about smart women falling for the pseudoscientific claims of the “wellness” industry. She wrapped up everything I’ve been feeling and saying for the past couple years in a wonderful op-ed piece in the New York Times. That all these trends – keto, Paleo, the Whole 30, you name it – are eating disorders in prettier boxes. All of them espouse a comparative model of eating, claiming certain foods are ‘bad’ for you while others are ‘good’. And while we could all use a kick start plan to eat healthier every once and a while as bad habits can be difficult to break without a good strong dose of discipline, the diet as lifestyle has been the norm since the 80s.
I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything Ms. Knoll wrote, but something keeps nagging at me: the idea that we still label what is women’s inherent nature (because, as Ms. Knoll points out, not many guys are sitting around the table talking about their thighs as they scarf down their burgers) as yet another methodology called “Intuitive Eating.”
Intuitive eating implies we need to learn a specific way to eat. We don’t need to learn anything else about food. We need to forget about everything that society has told us is right or wrong with our bodies. We need to un-learn all the ways we’ve dishonored, shamed and hurt our bodies whether that be through diets or abusive language or comparing ourselves to other women. We simply need to return to the inherent wisdom that was granted us at conception. The wisdom of our Divine Feminine. She knows why she eats. She knows what her body likes. She knows how to nurture and nourish herself whether that is with a kale salad or a chocolate chip cookie.
Women, we’ve been brainwashed. By advertising, magazines, celebrity culture and heaven help us, social media. And while it’s all around us, it’s been a covert operation, as Ms. Knoll points out, hiding under the alias of ‘wellness’ and ‘balance’. Slowly but surely, our patriarchal society has turned us against ourselves. Convinced us that we need products and expensive tonics and potions to live a fulfilling life and convinced men that we’re not worthy of praise, attention or love unless we look a certain way. Our capitalistic and consumer driven culture has made us question and distrust ourselves.
As I’ve written before, I’ve struggled with being in the ‘wellness’ industry, as I promote and write about workouts and food and nutritional supplements. I’ve done the best I can to strike a chord of balance between what’s absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle and what could be considered indulgent luxuries. Before I put anything out to the public I try to assess why I am doing so and will it help someone more than it will harm them?
I’ll be the first to tell you I got into this industry because I didn’t feel ‘enough’. Pretty enough. Thin enough. Successful enough. I was able to hide my insecurities in the name of health. I learned a lot on this journey, but my biggest lessons have come from unlearning everything I thought I knew about who I was. It has come from tearing down the facade I built to make myself okay. It came from questioning and continuing to question everything I know to be ‘true’ or ‘good’ or ‘right’.
While the wellness industry has done an amazing job convincing us we can never eat gluten again and be happy, we must not abdicate personal responsibility. As women, we need to take back our power and stop being so willing to buy whatever anyone is selling us. We must do whatever we need to return to that inexhaustible well of confidence, grace, trust, compassion, tenderness and yes, strength, that we were endowed with when we were conceived as females. And we must continue to fill it over and over and over and over again. With food. With friendships. With intimacy. With laughter. With joy. With vulnerability. With whatever fills up not only our bellies but our hearts as well. We must feed our souls.
We can begin this process by asking ourselves one simple question not only with food, but with all of our decisions. Why? Why am I eating this donut or this piece of fish or this broccoli? Why am I buying this potion or supplement? Why am I getting botox? (A question, yes, I recently asked myself.) And then, be brutally honest in our answers. Sometimes we may like what we hear, sometimes not. Decide accordingly.
Your answers may lead you down a rabbit hole that may uncover a root unresolved issue for you. While not always pleasant, these moments can be transformative and healing. If you have the resources and feel you need to, seek outside help like a therapist. Counseling can be helpful, but so can writing, reading, talking with trusted friends and committing to our own happiness and well being.
I don’t need L’Oreal to tell me I’m worth it. And neither do you.
And Jessica Knoll, if you read this – I’d love to lunch with you and discuss how to take up more space.
As seems to be my theme for 2019, last week requested I, yet again, be flexible – demanded I let go of plans, even as I’m making them. I was all set to begin my new job with Square Organics, an amazing company making its mark not only in the health and wellness space but also exemplifying the generosity and heart of a company doing the right thing in the world – the kind of company I’ve been craving to work with for a long time. In today’s day and age, it’s been challenging for me to find the right fit, especially given my aversion to the nine to five gigs.
When the opportunity to sign on as their Field Marketing Director came my way, I jumped on it. I received everything I wanted – freedom to work from wherever I chose. Opportunity to contribute to the creative direction of the company. A nice salary. Health benefits.
Despite all the pros of the job, the one con is that I was not particularly enthusiastic about the actual work I would be doing. Could I manage a team of brand ambassadors in Whole Foods across the country? Yes. Could I pimp the product in stores? Yes. Is this what my soul is crying out to do? No.
This is the year life is demanding I start walking my talk. The year I make the seemingly crazy decisions that will drop me deep into the unknown. The year I say no to the opportunities that I pro/con to death until I justify saying yes, even if that decision doesn’t move me forward along my path or towards fulfilling my purpose in life.
If it’s not a fuck yes, it’s a no.
Trust your gut.
Just because you’re good at something doesn’t means you have to do it.
Say no to the imperfect opportunities so the perfect ones have room to appear. (This one I made up myself. I think. Maybe not.)
I’ve espoused all these catchphrases and paradigms at some point in my life. However, I wonder how much have I lived them? What kind of teacher would I be if couldn’t serve as my own example?
Yet again (and again and again), I am being asked to trust, to surrender, to just let go. To risk safety for growth and expansion. I’m recognizing this is easier said than done.
When the founder of Square Organics and myself came to the mutual conclusion that turning down the role would be best for everyone, we began devising a new role that would better align with my passions and talents. I am not sure if that will come to fruition or not. I feel like I should be more anxious, more worried than I am. Some days the fear of the unknown wins and I find myself spiraling in a vortex of Oh Shit. What did I do? Other days I have full faith that by saying no to a job that would keep me small, I’m saying yes to an opportunity that will demand I be as big as I know myself to be.
In the meantime, I’m writing through the discomfort.
As of Friday December 21st, I gave myself permission to take a two week stay-cation. I decided due to the expense of travel during the holiday coupled with a deep desire to go nowhere and do no-thing, to stay put in Los Angeles. I was looking forward to sticking around while everyone else left. L.A. is best when half the town leaves. You can get from the west side to the middle of Hollywood in less than 40 minutes. That’s unheard of on even the best of days here in the City Of Angels. I actually enjoy driving as long as I can move unobstructed by other cars. I love driving fast even more. (It’s particularly satisfying driving north on PCH with a stick shift.) I roll the windows down, crank the music, sing loud and feel free. Other times, I just listen to the wind in complete silence. Either way, it’s a meditative experience for me.
I told myself I wasn’t going to work for two weeks. That I would take time for personal projects and self care. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the last two weeks of 2018. The two weeks prior had been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I had been feeling tired, lost and sad. I assumed my heavy mood would extend into the holidays and maybe even intensify given the particular amount of loneliness one can tend to feel this time of year.
I experienced just the opposite. The past two weeks has been fulfilling and inspiring in ways I couldn’t imagine. I binge watched my now favorite episodic – Californication. And while for many the show may have confirmed that L.A. is nothing but a cesspool of vapid wanna be artists, it made me fall in love with my town all over again – its landscapes, its debauchery and its ability to continually inspire (and simultaneously ass kick) any who have aspirations for a creative life.
I began writing again. Not in the long form ways (like this blog) that I feel compelled to share with the world, but just musings and short poems and random thoughts – streams of consciousness that may or may not have a public life somewhere down the road. I wrote in ways that were personally satisfying.
I began dreaming again – allowing my imagination to open avenues of creativity for me. Thinking of all the possibilities this town holds, excited for what’s to come and the ride that 2019 will take me on.
And while I told myself I wasn’t going to work – I did here and there. Which proved to me, that no matter what, I know I will always be motivated to move ahead. I suppose I needed that confirmation.
Somewhere in the past two weeks, I began to trust myself more. Trust what I’m feeling called to do. Where I’m guided to go. I let go of the should’s and shouldn’t’s and gleaned what I was doing out of necessity and what I was doing from sheer love.
I drank (quite) a bit, I moved a bit, and I expressed a lot in all forms. By golly, I had FUN. I found pleasure in life in so many ways. I found what has been missing for so many years.
Given how not busy my life was, I had plenty of time for social media and other distractions. However, I had no desire to post much of anything. I had nothing to say. I was too busy LIVING my life rather than pontificating about it. A whole day would go by and somehow, I just couldn’t find the time for Instagram.
While I know my life will ramp up as the New Year moves forward and that I am never completely free of the darkness that sometimes distinguishes my light, I am going to try my darndest to carry these past two weeks with me. The ease. The joy. The disinterest for what I thought my life was supposed to be or look like. Because I’m too busy enjoying what it is.
Sometimes the level of insignificance I feel is staggering.
Like it wouldn’t matter if I drove my car
Straight through this red light into the ocean
Instead of south on PCH.
I dream of it often.
Instead, I turn left, like I’m supposed to.
Like I’m always supposed to.
And just drive really fast.
As fast as I can without hurting someone else.
Driving really fucking fast makes me feel better.
I get an inch closer to knowing death.
It’s nights like these
I’m glad a drive a manual.
I am back in my home earlier than some of my neighbors after being evacuated due to the Woolsey fires this past week. By the grace of whoever watches and protects us all, the officer at the roadblock allowed me to pass into the canyon where I live.
I hit a breaking point. I just had to go home and for some strange reason felt the Gods were on my side. However, I wasn’t sure what obstacles I would encounter on my way home or how I would talk myself into passing through. Maybe I’d lie and say I had to get more medication or some other bullshit. I needed a break from it all. I was drooling at the thought of sleeping through the night in complete silence in the woods.
I don’t like to lie nor am I any good at it but sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures. When I approached the officer blocking the street I needed to enter, I asked if I could get in. He asked where I lived. I paused just a bit too long before I answered. My reply was less than a mile from the truth and I sensed he knew it. He let me pass anyway. I felt terrible for a bit and then utterly relieved. I thanked whatever angels were with me.
As soon as I stepped on my property my shoulders relaxed. My rib cage dropped. And I took a huge exhale. I expressed my gratitude out loud for the officer that let me pass. Gratitude for my home, with all its quirks and little noises and imperfections. For my friend who so graciously took me in with Zeus, my handsome kitty, when many were not as feline friendly.
Now I am somewhat sequestered in my home as I don’t know if I’ll have the same luck getting in and out freely. I’ve spent the day tending to things that haven’t been tended to. Cleaning. Home assignments I had been putting off. Emails that should have been sent days if not weeks ago. I’m nesting. It’s so peaceful here with over half our town gone.
Without little Zeusy around (I left him at my friend’s apartment truly believing the evacuation would be lifted today and I could return to get him), my home is so much cleaner. I am relishing in its lack of paw prints, cat food and litter littering my floor. I needed this. Even for just 24 hours.
But I had some important realizations today as I washed clothes, cleaned floors, emptied closets, and rearranged furniture.
While my house may be a bit dirtier with Zeus traipsing in and out from the great outdoors, my heart is fuller.
No matter how sparkling your floor is or isn’t, however big or small, a home is to be cherished. Honored. Loved. Respected. And nurtured. We all have different ways to do that. It felt good for me to clean, burn sandalwood, organize and rest.
As I unpacked and re-nested I realized, like I do when I move, that I didn’t need much of what I have been harboring in my closet. I started pulling items off their hangers and putting them in a ‘To Donate’ pile. All ready to go to any organization collecting items for victims of the Woolsey fire.
I don’t have a lot. Everything I own fits in a studio apartment and my office and practice studio. I have one closet. One dresser drawers. Yet, as I unpacked I still felt too cluttered. I began emptying. With every shirt or pair of shoes I dumped into the donation pile, I created a little more space for other non- material things to enter my life. Things I’ve been hoping, wishing, and praying for.
We’ve all heard that people are more important than things. But how many of us are truly living by that philosophy? Do we ever stop to think when we buy that fifth pair of shoes (in my case boots) that we are cluttering our life, preventing the things we truly desire from entering? We weigh ourselves down with so much – food, shoes, lip glosses, purses, t-shirts.
When is enough enough? I wondered if our culture’s obsession with consumption – having more in every area of our life – may be contributing to the devastation of our planet. That our singular home – Earth – is suffering as a result of our insistence on overstuffing our individual homes.
“Moksh” the woman said to me, looking at my left forearm, just above my wrist. I didn’t even have to follow her gaze to know she was referring to my tattoo, the Sanskrit symbol for moksha – loosely translated as spiritual liberation or freedom. Many Hindi speaking people have commented on my inner arm marking. It’s led to some lovely conversations and connections I may not have had otherwise. This was no exception.
Yes. I knew she knew so I said nothing further.
Do you pray? She asked.
Every day. I replied.
There was what seemed like a long pause as I considered the black and white tile outdoor table next to me. It may have only been a couple of seconds.
You’re a warrior.
A little caught off guard, I looked at her with a look of surprise gauging by her response.
You have a warrior spirit.
So I’ve been told.
I thought she was going to drop a full on Vedic reading right there in Cost Plus on a random Thursday afternoon. Instead she stayed silent. I simply said Have a nice day and walked out.
I didn’t know what else to say. There was nothing else to say. I knew what I was.
Once outside, I paused a few feet out the door and felt a swell of emotion, a few tears rolling down my face. Ah, yes – the familiar tears of a warrior who doesn’t know how to drop the shield. The tears that came from being seen, by a total stranger no less.
This interaction has been sitting with me for the past few days and a theme that has been resurrecting itself for months.
As the Bhagavad Gita lays out so beautifully, life is not about floating around, jumping from one ecstatic spiritual experience to the next. Life takes place on a battlefield as we do our best to slay our karmic debts so that we may evolve towards liberation when we move into our next life. There is no doubt the battlefield is where I’m most comfortable. Running around, overcoming challenges, fighting for the next victory – both in the material and spiritual worlds. I’ve become quite adept at walking through the fire and in many cases, I even court and cajole it. But what to do when the fight is over or I’m just too tired to wield a weapon? Well, therein lie my most recent lessons.
I feel like there’s no time to rest. We as a species seem to be in such dire straits that it’s going to take every one of us who are called to do this work to do it 24-7. Humanity is at a tipping point and it’s all hands on deck if we don’t want this ship to sink. Yet, there are days, like today, when I’m just too tired. Sure, I want to go to kirtan. Sure I want to get out in nature and convene with Her. But on the first day of my moon cycle after teaching one class, running a few errands and some light household chores, all I can manage is a yoga nidra practice, and laying in my space with my eyes closed. Waves of cramps keep me fixed on the floor. Chanting even feels taxing. As I’ve become more attuned to my body and my cycles, I know I should rest and rest seduces me like a forlorn lover, and yet – yet. It’s so darn uncomfortable to lay down my sword and my shield and allow myself to be held.
I rub my swollen aching belly, wondering where my leaner, warrior like shape disappeared to. I feel soft. Squishy. I don’t necessarily like it.
So, like a child, I rest my head in my Mother’s lap. I let her stroke my hair and I hear her whisper It’s okay. I cry. Not working is, indeed, my work.
After a morning meditation the other day I was inspired by the idea of a woman’s circle. As I often do around new ideas, I created a mind map (see photo) to get a sense of what its purpose would be and what it might look like. Instinctually I wrote down the word ‘woman’ as (WO) Man. This said a lot to me about the very nature of what it means to be a woman.
Essentially, as a human race, we are all man. The Shiva energy or the supreme consciousness resides in all of us. But check out the difference between woman and man. Two letters. WO. Immediately I thought WOMB. The thing that makes women unique is literally our reproductive organs. I know some of you are reading this and saying ‘duh.’ But think about it. Your vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries – all of the pieces and parts and energies that involve a female reproductive system – are just that. An intricate miraculous system that reproduces. A container that houses all the forces of creation. Holy shit.
This is our Shakti energy and women, this is the true source of our power. Our ability to create. Our ability to nurture. Our ability to give birth. Whether to another human being (I’m always blown away by that quite frankly), an idea or a movement. Our power does not come from shaming others – male or female. Our power does not come from executing a witch hunt or crucifying perpetrators. Our power comes from our ability to heal – ourselves and others – in the kindest most loving way possible. Which, by the way, may include a bitch slap every now and then if the nice approach doesn’t work. In fighting for our right to feel safe and free, let’s not lose what makes us so powerful. Our softness. Our nectar – the very source of our divinity.
My next question was Can men be included in this process? Yes. Should men be included in this process? Absofuckinglutely. They NEED to be included. But unfortunately, we’ve created a culture such that when either a man or a woman wants to explore, heal, and/or share their sacred feminine, they feel unsafe. Because that which has made women absolutely beautiful and unique and sexy and oh so powerful has been objectified. The very essence of our divinity has been scrutinized, disregarded and disrespected. We have all contributed. Men and women. We have allowed it. We have participated in its growth and dominance. We all must take responsibility for our part and we all must do our own work to heal it. Women cannot simply point our well-manicured fingers at men and vilify them.
Until we re-create a culture where it is safe for all of us to fully express and celebrate Her, it is necessary in some instances to hold separate containers for the work that all of us need to do. Thus, for now, my offerings will be limited to females so that they feel safe to be naked, vulnerable, and soft. I wish we could all dance with Her in the same room. To proudly express to the world all incarnations of Her and join and unite with Him in unabashed joy and pride. We are not there yet. But it is my prayer and hope that one day, sooner than later, we will be.
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.